StubHub Slams Live Nation’s ‘Anything But Fair’ FAIR Ticketing Act Proposal
Amid last week’s announcement of record earnings of $16.7 billion in 2022, Live Nation came out with guns blazing about last month’s Senate hearing examining the ticketing industry — which was fiercely, if one-sidedly, critical of Live Nation’s Ticketmaster division — and took aim at the secondary ticketing market, which it identifies as the major problem facing the industry and concertgoers worldwide.
As part of that counter-offensive, it announced what it calls the FAIR Ticketing act (full details of which can be found here), the basic tenets of which state:
More from Variety
StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout
Rolling Stones Top StubHub's Top U.S. Summer Tours (EXCLUSIVE)
that “artists should decide resale rules,” which would be an effort to allow artists to take the lead in preventing exploitative prices on the secondary market; would “make it illegal to sell speculative tickets,” addressing scalpers’ habit of tricking fans into buying tickets that do not yet exist; would “expand the BOTS Act,” to combat the widespread use of ticket-buying bots on the secondary market; “crack down on resale sites that are safe havens for scalpers,” which would force secondary-market sites to police the activity on their platforms more aggressively; and “mandate all-in-pricing nationally,” which would address the processing and other fees that often are not revealed until very late in the sale process.
On the face of it, those proposals sound reasonable and a strong counteraction to the excesses of the ticketing industry — but as StubHub, one of the world’s largest ticket reselling platforms, pointed out on Friday, the act is missing any mention of Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s behavior. As the largest live-entertainment company and the largest ticketing company in the world, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have often been accused not only of anticompetitive behavior but are being examined as a possible monopoly: Live Nation not only owns the world’s largest ticketing company but also promotes tours and festivals, owns venues and has a major artist-management division.
“In the wake of bipartisan calls to investigate anticompetitive and anti-consumer practices by [Live Nation Entertainment],” a StubHub rep says in a statement, “LNE’s solution is to point fingers and call for policies that strengthen their own control over the industry and consumers. StubHub continues to join consumer advocates in calling for comprehensive policy solutions, like the BOSS ACT, that empower fans, increase transparency across the entire marketplace, and ensure competition.”
The BOSS Act is legislation designed to crack down on improper practices in the secondary ticket market — bots, price-gougers and the like — spearheaded by New Jersey Democratic Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Frank Pallone Jr. The bill, which is officially named the “Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing Act” and was first introduced in 2009, has generally met with a positive response from the industry, but Pearl Jam — a band that has been deeply involved with ticketing since they went after Ticketmaster in 1995 — wrote the two congressmen a letter pointing out what they perceive to be flaws in the bill (read more on the BOSS Act here).
Specifically regarding the Fair Ticketing Act, a StubHub rep states:
LNE and TM’s “Fair Ticketing Act” specifically focuses on regulating the secondary ticketing market and does not include any significant reforms to their own practices. Anything but fair, the proposal is meant to strengthen the control LNE, TM, and their venues and artists have over this industry and consumers at large.
Ticket transferability laws that empower consumers in the ticket buying transaction have long had the support and advocacy of consumer groups. LNE and TM’s regular opposition to these laws and their frequent use of derogatory terms like “scalper” are a veiled attempt to maintain the control they’ve had over consumers and cover up their own willful failures in helping to enforce existing statutes like the BOTS Act that go after bad actors.
This proposal is particularly concerning in a marketplace where LNE and TM regularly manipulate the release of ticket supply and availability to take advantage of high demand through dynamic ticket pricing.
LNE and TM’s own resale marketplaces cater to the same consumers and professional ticket resellers (or in their words, “scalpers”) as their secondary marketplace competitors, AND they provide services, such as their TradeDesk inventory management system, to encourage professional resellers to utilize their own resale sites.
Contacted by Variety, a rep for Live Nation responded: “The artist will always make the best decision for fans. FAIR Ticketing is not about locking down resale to our site, all resellers can take part as long as they are abiding by the terms the artist sets on their content. This isn’t theoretical, that is exactly how the NFL Ticket Exchange works. StubHub is pushing to make it illegal for artists to have choice – even choices that are good for consumers.”
Variety will have more on the situation as it develops.
Best of Variety
Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.