Ticketmaster is the largest ticket sales and distribution company in the United States, with a dominant market share in the live entertainment industry. As the primary ticketing provider for many major venues and events, Ticketmaster has significant control over ticket prices. This often leads to consumer frustration when high fees and dynamic pricing result in expensive tickets. A common question is whether Ticketmaster ever reduces or discounts ticket prices.
Ticketmaster’s Pricing Model
Ticketmaster utilizes demand-based pricing, meaning prices fluctuate based on projected demand for an event. Popular shows that are expected to sell out quickly are priced higher than shows with weaker demand. This enables Ticketmaster and its partners to maximize revenue. While advantageous for the company, dynamic pricing is often seen as unfair by consumers since it results in inconsistency and a lack of transparency.
Ticketmaster states that it does not set base ticket prices, which are determined by artists and event organizers. However, as the exclusive seller, Ticketmaster controls variable prices and all ticketing fees. Its pricing model also relies heavily on supply and demand. Overall, Ticketmaster’s priority is maximizing profit rather than reducing costs for customers.
Fees are Consistently High
In addition to the base ticket price, Ticketmaster tacks on substantial fees that quickly increase the total cost. Service fees, shipping fees, facility charges, and order processing fees are added during checkout. These fees can equal 25% or more of the original ticket price.
According to Ticketmaster, these fees cover the costs of running its platform and services. However, many consumers feel these fees are exorbitant and only serve to drive up Ticketmaster’s profits. While base ticket prices may fluctuate, Ticketmaster’s fees remain consistently high.
Discounts and Reduced Price Tickets are Rare
While Ticketmaster may adjust prices based on demand, it rarely proactively reduces or discounts prices out of courtesy for fans. Discounted tickets are typically only available in certain situations:
– ForUnpopular Events: If an event is not selling well, Ticketmaster may lower prices to increase sales. This is relatively uncommon, as it usually prices tickets high initially.
– Pre-Sales: When tickets first go on sale, there may be discounted seats available to select groups offered through pre-sale codes. These are limited.
– Special Promotions: Occasionally Ticketmaster runs special sales or codes that take a small percentage off select tickets. These promotions are not common.
– Third-Party Vendors: Some third-party vendors like season ticket holders may resell tickets at reduced prices on Ticketmaster’s exchange. These resale tickets are limited.
– Military/Student Discounts: Select venues provide discounted tickets for military members or students, often verifying status prior to purchase. Availability depends on the event.
Beyond the situations above, Ticketmaster does not typically discount or reduce ticket prices as a courtesy or incentive for fans. Promotions resulting in lower prices are rare rather than commonplace. The priority remains maximizing profit on each ticket.
Dynamic Pricing Means Prices Can Increase
Not only does Ticketmaster rarely discount, but its dynamic pricing model also means ticket prices can increase, even after the initial on-sale. Ticketmaster analyzes supply and demand up until the event date, adjusting prices accordingly. In some cases, prices have increased substantially in the days and hours leading up to an event.
This unpredictable pricing frustrates many consumers who are unable to budget effectively. Fans cannot count on the price they see initially remaining consistent. While dynamic pricing benefits Ticketmaster’s bottom line, it adds financial uncertainty for ticket buyers.
The Source Matters
It’s important to note that Ticketmaster runs both the primary and secondary ticket market. On the primary market, Ticketmaster is selling the tickets on behalf of the original source like the venue or event organizer. Dynamic pricing is most common on the primary market.
On the secondary market, Ticketmaster facilitates ticket resales between parties. For highly demanded events, secondary market prices are often inflated above face value. However, less popular events may have seats resold below face value.
So the source of the ticket matters when evaluating whether prices are reduced. Primary market prices directly benefit Ticketmaster, while secondary market prices may benefit resellers.
Lack of Competition
As the dominant player in event ticketing, Ticketmaster faces little competitive pressure to reduce service fees or offer discounts. Many big venues and tours are contracted to sell through Ticketmaster exclusively. Fans have few options but to pay Ticketmaster’s prices if they want tickets to a major concert or sporting event.
Independent ticket sellers lack the brand power, resources, and venue contracts to challenge Ticketmaster on a large scale. As a result, Ticketmaster has little incentive to voluntarily lower its pricing. Discounts rarely align with its profit-driven goals.
Class Action Lawsuits
Ticketmaster has faced multiple lawsuits over its pricing practices. Most recently in 2021, a class action lawsuit was filed alleging Ticketmaster engaged in fraudulent and anti-competitive conduct by colluding with event venues to charge inflated service fees.
While Ticketmaster has settled past class action suits, the results have not led to meaningful changes in its pricing structure. Lawsuits highlight growing resentment towards Ticketmaster’s fees and dynamic pricing tactics. However, legal action has yet to curb the company’s prioritization of profits over consumer satisfaction.
Potential Changes Under Live Nation
In 2010, Ticketmaster merged with promotion company Live Nation. Live Nation is the largest event promoter globally, owning many major venues and festivals. Previously Live Nation competed with Ticketmaster to sell tickets, but the merged company controls ticketing for the vast majority of large live events and venues.
Critics allege this level of vertical integration reduces incentives to lower prices. As a merged company, Live Nation and Ticketmaster now share the dual goals of maximizing ticket sales and profit margins. However, the United States Justice Department has thus far allowed the merger under a consent decree.
It remains to be seen whether the unified Live Nation-Ticketmaster will adopt any new pricing strategies that could benefit consumers. The consent decree is up for review in 2020 and may be amended in light of competitive concerns.
Exceptions Where Prices Dropped
Though rare, there are some examples of Ticketmaster reducing prices in response to low demand:
– NFL Ticket Sales: After two years of declining NFL ticket sales, Ticketmaster cut service fees by an average of $2.50 in 2008 to incentivize purchases. The move suggested a degree of flexibility when sales lag. Fees eventually rose again once demand stabilized.
– Select Band Tours: Certain bands with waning popularity have seen Ticketmaster offer flash sales and last minute discounts to fill seats. Acts like Bon Jovi and Sting utilized this strategy.
– Some Broadway Shows: Slow sales for a limited number of Broadway productions recently led Ticketmaster’s NYC subsidiary to offer discounts to boost demand. Select shows had tickets as low as $49.
– Low Demand Concerts: Ticket prices for less popular concert acts playing at smaller outdoor amphitheaters were reduced by 10% on Ticketmaster in 2016. The hope was to offset weak sales.
These examples primarily reflect exceptions where lagging demand forced Ticketmaster’s hand. Price reductions were not done proactively out of courtesy for fans. The underlying pricing model still leans towards maximization rather than affordability.
Unlikely to Offer Unsolicited Discounts
Given its business model and lack of competition, Ticketmaster is unlikely to voluntarily offer unsolicited price discounts or fee reductions out of goodwill towards consumers. The company relies heavily on added fees, and dynamic pricing leads to higher profits when demand is strong.
While prices may fluctuate or drop under special circumstances, substantial discounts across the board would conflict with Ticketmaster’s core interests. Some critics argue the lack of incentive to reduce prices highlights problems with Ticketmaster’s unchecked dominance of event ticketing.
Third-Party Sites Comparison
It can be helpful to compare Ticketmaster’s pricing model against third-party ticketing sites:
|Dynamic – Prices fluctuate based on projected demand
|Rarely offers discounts, focuses on maximize ticket revenue
|Market-based – Sellers set ticket prices, fees added
|Discounts more common as sellers compete
|Market-based – Algorithm recommends price, fees added
|Frequent discount promotions used to drive sales
As a secondary resale marketplace, sites like StubHub and VividSeats often see sellers offer reduced prices to attract buyers in competitive sales environments. Ticketmaster has less incentive to discount in its role as the primary seller.
Ways Fans Can Save
Given Ticketmaster’s premium pricing, what alternatives exist for fans to get cheaper tickets?
Some major venues sell a portion of tickets directly through their own box offices, avoiding Ticketmaster fees. These tickets are first come, first served. Be sure to check the venue’s website ahead of the on-sale date for details.
Join Fan Clubs
Big acts often offer pre-sales through their fan clubs before the general public on-sale. Join the fan club in advance for the chance at early tickets. These also avoid Ticketmaster fees.
On occasion, Groupon offers discounted Ticketmaster tickets for certain live events. Availability is not guaranteed but worth monitoring.
Wait for General Sale
Sometimes unsold face value tickets are released closer to the event, even after initial sales. Check back right before the event in case cheaper seats become available.
See if Refunds are Offered
If an event is canceled or rescheduled, Ticketmaster may offer full refunds allowing fans to avoid getting overcharged for tickets to a show that does not happen.
Comparison Shop Resale Sites
If purchasing secondhand, check multiple resale sites as prices can vary. Sort by lowest price to find the best deals. Promo codes can also save on fees.
Being proactive, flexible, and vigilant for limited deals are the most reliable ways to score reduced price tickets while avoiding Ticketmaster’s standard pricing model.
If you notice tickets to an event plummet right after you purchased, try contacting Ticketmaster by phone or online chat. Politely explain the situation – they may issue a credit on a future purchase. This is not guaranteed but has helped some fans in the past.
In summary, Ticketmaster rarely proactively reduces or discounts ticket prices due to its pricing model and lack of competition. Sales, promotions and lowered ticket prices tend to only occur if demand is lagging considerably. Otherwise, maximizing profits through high fees and dynamic ticket prices remains Ticketmaster’s status quo. Fans are justified in feeling like cost savings are not a priority.
While there are some limited exceptions, substantial discounts across the board conflict with Ticketmaster’s business interests in most scenarios. Consumers are rightfully frustrated by inflated prices and lack of transparency. However, with its entrenched position in the industry, Ticketmaster has little incentive to voluntarily alter its pricing practices. Significant changes may require external legal or regulatory intervention. Until then, fans can only remain vigilant in searching for the best deals.