Ticket prices on Ticketmaster have been steadily increasing over the past few years, much to the dismay of music fans everywhere. There are a few key factors that have contributed to the rise in prices on the popular ticket sales platform.
One of the most noticeable changes has been the addition of new fees and the increase of existing fees added to ticket prices. Ticketmaster has received a lot of backlash for the confusing array of fees – like ordering fees, facility fees, service fees – that can add 20-25% to the base ticket price. These nuisance fees have become increasingly common and expensive.
Ticketmaster utilizes a dynamic pricing system that adjusts ticket prices according to supply and demand. For popular shows that are likely to sell out quickly, Ticketmaster will raise prices to take advantage of frenzied demand. Fans dislike the lack of transparency around how Ticketmaster determines event demand and adjusts prices accordingly.
Secondary Market Integration
In partnership with scalpers and resellers, Ticketmaster facilitates secondary market ticket sales, either through Ticketmaster-owned resale sites or external exchanges like StubHub. This legitimization and integration of scalped-ticket sales, often at highly inflated prices, has faced intense criticism. Fans accuse Ticketmaster of double dipping – making fees off of both the initial ticket sale and then taking a cut of the profitable secondary sale.
One of the key reasons Ticketmaster has been able to steadily raise prices and fees is due to their dominance in the primary ticket sales market. Ticketmaster sells tickets for the majority of major concert venues and teams in the United States. This lack of competition grants Ticketmaster considerable pricing power.
Exclusive Venue Deals
By securing exclusive ticketing deals with venues and promoters, Ticketmaster has limited consumers’ options for buying tickets. If fans want to see shows at major arenas and stadiums, they have to purchase through Ticketmaster. This exclusivity prevents a truly competitive market for ticket sales from emerging.
Merger with LiveNation
In 2010, Ticketmaster merged with LiveNation, the world’s largest concert promoter and music venue owner. This heralded LiveNation Entertainment as a near monopolistic force, controlling ticketing, venue operations, promotion, artist management and more. The merged company has enormous influence over price setting within the live events industry.
Lack of Viable Competitors
While there are some other ticket retailers, like AXS and eTix, none have succeeded in taking significant market share away from Ticketmaster. The lack of head-to-head competition has allowed Ticketmaster to operate essentially unchallenged.
Increasing Operating Costs
Ticketmaster also defends rising prices by pointing to increases in their own operating costs. Expenses for sales, service, security and technology have grown considerably.
Call Center and Service Operations
Maintaining their vast customer service apparatus, which includes customer support centers to field questions and manage ticket issues, entails substantial costs for staffing, real estate, telecommunications and more. These call centers are a key part of Ticketmaster’s sales and distribution model.
Technology and Security Investments
Ticketmaster has made significant investments in back-end ticketing technology and online security measures. Their server infrastructure and engineering personnel to support smooth ticket purchasing experiences are expensive to operate. Fraud prevention and anti-scalping efforts also require constant monitoring and development.
Artist and Venue Demands
As artists and venues seek bigger revenue shares, their promotional demands also drive up Ticketmaster’s costs. Some acts or venues require Ticketmaster to spend more on advertising or provide more on-site staff to help with VIP experiences or ticket distribution. These ancillary costs get passed on through higher fees.
The Fan Experience
While Ticketmaster defends rising prices as a necessity to deliver value, many fans feel their ticket buying experiences and price options have only worsened. The general sentiment is that customers are getting less for more.
Fans are frustrated by a perceived lack of transparency around Ticketmaster’s pricing determinations. Factors like demand algorithm specifics, fee breakdowns, or secondary market price floors are viewed as purposefully opaque. The unpredictability around final checkout costs breeds distrust.
Lack of Choices
With exclusive venue deals locking out competitors, fans often have no alternative but to purchase tickets through Ticketmaster. Some markets literally have zero other vendors to choose from. No choices equals no power for consumers.
Arduous Purchase Process
Between captchas, queues, errors and website crashes, the process of actually buying tickets on Ticketmaster is painful for many consumers. The checkout process offers little flexibility in selecting seat options or bundling purchases. Uncertain costs and fees compound the frustration.
Alternatives for Fans
Though Ticketmaster still dominates the primary ticket sales market, dissatisfied consumers do have some options to avoid high prices and fees.
Ironically, secondary resellers like StubHub or VividSeats can sometimes offer last minute deals on tickets below Ticketmaster prices. Though risky, playing the secondary market can pay off for patient or flexible buyers.
Many artists offer special presales for superfans where tickets are sold directly through the artist’s website. Presale tickets are usually available before the general on-sale at normal prices. Presales help artists get tickets directly to their loyal supporters.
Venue Box Offices
In some cases, heading to a venue’s physical box office is still the best way to avoid convenience and processing fees. Of course, box office sales are highly limited for extremely popular events. But for lower demand events, on-site sales may beat Ticketmaster’s inflated costs.
Looking ahead,Ticketmaster still faces little pressure to lower prices given their commanding market shares. But there are some industry changes on the horizon that may impact costs for consumers.
A Shifting Music Industry
As concerts become a greater share of musician revenue, artists may push back more against Ticketmaster’s cut of ticket sales. More artist-owned ticketing platforms could emerge to redistribute some pricing power.
With increasing anti-trust scrutiny of tech giants and consolidating industries, government agencies may intervene to break up anticompetitive ticketing conglomerates like Live Nation-Ticketmaster. More competition could breed better ticket prices.
The rise of blockchain-based ticketing marketplaces may decentralize some pricing power. Cryptographically secure token-based tickets could limit scalping and unfair markups. But technology alone likely won’t transform the industry’s underlying business incentives.
While Ticketmaster retains formidable advantages in the ticketing marketplace, fan discontent over unfair experiences and escalating costs will continue to grow. Until structural shifts hit the live events business, expect high convenience fees and dynamic pricing to remain fixtures of the Ticketmaster model. Consumers’ desperation to see their favorite acts live will continue to enable those practices for the foreseeable future.
In summary, Ticketmaster has steadily increased prices over the past few years through tactics like adding more fees, utilizing variable pricing algorithms, and integrating secondary ticket sales. Their market dominance as the primary ticketing vendor for most major venues in the U.S. grants them considerable pricing power. Rising operational costs in customer service, security, and technology also factor into their price hikes. However, many consumers feel their ticket buying experiences have gotten worse under this model, provoking dissatisfaction. Alternatives like secondary markets, artist presales, and box offices provide some limited workarounds. But market pressures for Ticketmaster to lower costs remain minimal. The live events industry would likely require substantial restructuring for Ticketmaster’s entrenched business incentives around fees and pricing to change in a significant way.