Last week we reported on a letter sent by US senator Amy Klobuchar to Live Nation boss Michael Rapino, pressing him for details on his company’s progress on ‘all-in pricing’. That’s when the full, final price for tickets is shown to buyers before they get to the checkout page.
The senator criticised Live Nation and its Ticketmaster subsidiary for having “not yet made the all-in ticket price — including fees — the default setting for its platform”. She claimed that people “must find and select a filter buried within a tab that gives no indication that it contains an option to display all-in pricing”.
Klobuchar sent her letter on 25 October with a deadline of 15 November to respond. However, Rapino takes this year’s prize for being a good correspondent: his reply was sent the very same day. Live Nation has shared the letter with Music Ally.
“We agree wholeheartedly that tickets to live entertainment events should be marketed, listed and sold to fans using the full ticket price, all per ticket fees included. The all-in price should be the price fans see throughout the shopping and purchase process,” wrote Rapino, setting out Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s stance.
He added that the company “have supported mandatory all-in pricing legislation for years” and that “unlike several of our major competitors, Ticketmaster complies with both the letter and spirit of existing all-in pricing laws such as in New York.”
And yes, tea-spillage fans, Rapino went on to name those competitors: StubHub, SeatGeek and Vivid Seats. But he also offered his defence against Klobuchar’s claims that Ticketmaster has yet to make all-in pricing the default across its service.
“Ticketmaster does not have the unilateral right to do that, as it is an agent for the venues that issue tickets and along with content owners (artists, sports teams, etc.) determine ticket pricing and how fees are displayed,” he wrote.
So, Live Nation has adopted all-in pricing for its own concert venues and festivals, but according to its CEO it cannot yet do that for concerts at venues owned or operated by other companies.
“We have no right to impose all-in pricing on those events,” he wrote. “This just underscores the importance of all-in pricing legislation. Not everyone in the live entertainment industry shares our views on all-in pricing. Without all-in pricing legislation, there will be patchwork adoption of all-in pricing at best.”
Consider the ball thwacked firmly back into the court of the politicians responsible for crafting whatever new legislation ultimately regulates the ticketing industry in the US. Rivals and industry analysts (and Senator Klobuchar, of course) will undoubtedly be responding to Rapino’s arguments in the coming days. We’ll be keeping a keen eye on the debate.