Live Nation has been caught pushing tickets directly to the resale market. In a secret audio recording heard by Billboard, someone working for Metallica coordinates with Live Nation to push 88,000 tickets directly to resale sites.
In the call between Live Nation president of U.S. concerts Bob Roux and Tony DiCioccio, a ticketing consultant working for Metallica, who has been described as “family” to the band, the two work out a deal to place tickets directly on the secondary market. Metallica’s team says the band was not aware of this deal.
In the 11-minute call reviewed by Billboard, Roux finds a way to put 88,000 tickets on the resale market before Metallica’s 2017 WorldWired North American stadium tour was announced.
“Ticketmaster will not do it, Roux says. He then suggests, “either a Live Nation employee or a venue box office basically take these and sell them into a singular account," which is how may sponsors get tickets. "When this happens, 4,600 tickets into a single account," said Roux on the call, "there may be some eyebrows that get raised."
Live Nation has acknowledged the call and its contents, telling Billboard it has allowed tickets to be moved to resellers for years. Between 2016 and 2017, "about a dozen artists out of the thousands we work with asked us to do this," says Live Nation.
It says this tactic is much rarer as artists use VIP packages to try and recapture value from the secondary market. There is also the new ploy to charge more with more expensive aisle seats for some shows. They were also caught recruiting scalpers to promote Ticketmaster’s resale business.
According to a Billboard source, in the deal, Metallica would get 40% of the resale revenue, Live Nation 40%, DiCioccio 12% and Millette, a promoter in charge of selling some tickets, 8%.
In 2018, Ticketmaster president Jared Smith responded to a letter from Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) asking about ticket pricing. "Ticketmaster does not have, and has never had, any product or program that allows ticket scalpers, or anyone else, to buy tickets ahead of fans."
The tour eventually grossed $111 million, the ninth highest of the year.
It is easy to blame Metallica for looking to do this and Live Nation for facilitating their ticket sales in this manner, especially since it owns Ticketmaster and stands to gain financially. High-end artists often complain that their tickets go on sale and are immediately found on resale sites for two or three times more. This can mean that they should charge more for their tickets if they want to capture that value or find ways to fight the secondary market. However, by using the secondary market to create the illusion of scarcity that there are less tickets than one might think, they are playing on the emotions of fans who are afraid to miss out on their favorite artist.
The main issue here is transparency. Fans need to aware of how tickets are being sold and if they are getting a good deal. They want to know what they are getting for their tickets and where it is coming from. If artists need to hide behind the cloak of secrecy to try this ticket ploy, then it probably won’t sell with the fans. Hoodwinking fans is not a good long term play, unless you just want more money.
One has to call into question Metallica and the dozen other bands that used this avenue to resell tickets. Are they doing it for the fans who allow them to eat or are they doing this for themselves? This drives up prices, fees and revenue for them at the expense of their fans. That is greed pure and simple.