US White House
Photo by René DeAnda on Unsplash

“The ticket seller SeatGreek…”

Alas, US president Joe Biden may need to go back to Ticketing Platform Pronunciation School judging by his appearance at a White House event yesterday. “If the president says you are SeatGreek, you are now SeatGreek,” joked SeatGeek as it tweeted the video of Biden mangling its name.

This was serious business, though: an event where Biden was joined by Live Nation, SeatGeek, Dice, Airbnb and other companies involved in ticketing and events to outline their plans for “ending hidden junk fees”. Those are the fees that are added to tickets, often in the later stages of the purchase process.

Biden had already signalled tackling these as a priority for his administration during his State Of The Union address in February, when he promised that “we’ll cap service fees on tickets to concerts and sporting events and make companies disclose all fees upfront”.

Yesterday’s event saw the assembled companies making their own promises in response. For example, Live Nation and Ticketmaster will from September show “just one clear, total price” for tickets for shows at its venues and festivals across the US, with an option for all-in upfront pricing for other tickets sold on Ticketmaster.

SeatGeek has also committed to “roll out product features over the course of the summer to make it easier for its millions of customers to shop on the basis of all-in price”. Meanwhile, Dice, TickPick and the Newport Festivals Foundation were on hand to talk about their existing all-in policies.

All this is voluntary, but Biden’s administration is keen to go further, calling on the US Congress to pass legislation that makes upfront all-in pricing mandatory for all ticketing companies. Campaigners for wider reforms are hoping that any legislation will not stop there however.

“Upfront pricing should be the start of comprehensive ticketing reform that protects consumers from price gouging and deceptive practices by predatory resellers,” said Stephen Parker, executive director of US independent venues body NIVA. “Other needed reforms such as banning speculative tickets and deceptive websites would further protect consumers in the ticketing marketplace.”

Various bills designed to reform ticketing have been launched in the US in recent times: The BOSS and SWIFT ACT, the Unlock Ticketing Markets Act and the FAIR Ticketing Act, each backed by one or other factions in the lobbying battles over ticketing. Music industry coalition Fix The Tix has also recently presented its desired program of reforms.

How that shakes out remains to be seen, but yesterday’s commitments to upfront, all-in pricing – particularly from the live industry’s biggest company – is a welcome step along the road towards making ticketing better for fans.

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