Live Nation head says ‘speculative ticketing’ to blame for difficulty with buying event tickets

Live Nation Entertainment President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold said “speculative ticketing” is to blame for people’s difficulty with buying event tickets.

Berchtold said during an interview with Axios Publisher Nicholas Johnston at the outlet’s “What’s Next Summit” on Wednesday that speculative ticketing is legal but would be considered a “deceptive” practice for any other industry.

He pointed to secondary sellers as the cause of tickets starting to be sold before TicketMaster officially puts them on sale — explaining that while a sale for Beyonce concerts was set to happen on a Friday a few weeks ago, the tickets were already being sold on secondary websites days in advance.

“They’re selling a ticket that they don’t have, and they’re betting that when that on-sale happens on Friday, they can use bots, swoop in and buy tickets to fulfill the order,” he said. “And if they can’t fulfill it, they’ll refund you. No harm for them. But that’s not clear to the fans.”

Berchtold said consumers mostly blame TicketMaster, which is owned by Live Nation Entertainment, as part of their belief that the company “controls all of this.” He said TicketMaster does not set the price of the ticket and most of the service fee that consumers are charged goes to the venue for the event.

Controversy arose in November after millions of fans of singer Taylor Swift were not able to buy tickets through TicketMaster as the website crashed due to high demand or did not receive their tickets despite buying them.

Live Nation has argued that demand exceeding expectations and availability caused the technical difficulties, but the situation caused members of Congress to launch an investigation into possible monopolistic behavior from the company and demand answers about what happened.

Berchtold said the vast majority of concerts are not sold out, allowing a consumer to buy a ticket if they wish. He said the top artists like Beyonce and Bruce Springsteen are the ones whose concerts are so highly in demand that it cannot be met.

He added that greater fines should be in place for secondary websites using bots to buy tickets, and “deceptive URLs” that make people think they are buying an official ticket should be eliminated.

Bechtold said Live Nation has pushed for Congress to pass a “Fair Ticketing Act” that would make selling speculative tickets illegal, require “all-in pricing” for consumers to be able to see the total cost of a ticket up front and crack down on resale websites that help scalpers, who buy and resell tickets quickly to make a profit.

“We wanted to make it clear, this is not Live Nation. We’re culturally trying to support the artists,” Berchtold said. “The artists are saying, ‘Yes, this is the agenda that we need to get back control of our ticket and stop the scalpers from getting between us and the fans.'”

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