Live Nation CEO Addresses Spike In Concert Tickets and The Cure

Live Nation’s CEO Michael Rapino is speaking out about the argument around The Cure’s ticket sales. When The Cure announced their 2023 North American Tour in early March, they wanted to make tickets “affordable for all.”

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The legendary band decided to opt out of Ticketmaster’s “platinum” and “dynamically priced” ticket options and prohibited ticket transfers in certain markets. A handful of tickets still ended up on secondary platforms. When the band complained to the company about high fees, frontman Robert Smith declared that Ticketmaster would provide $5 to $10 refunds to fans.

The complaints come on the heels of consumers and members of Congress blaming Live Nation Entertainment for being a “monopoly.” The two companies merged in 2010 and now control 70% of ticketing and live event venues.

Rapino recently (May 1) appeared on The Bob Lefsetz  podcast to address the issue.

“We were proud of Ticketmaster’s side,” said Rapino. “We did a ton of work with Robert making sure [tickets] were non-transferable, and it would be a face value [ticket] exchange and verified, doing all we could to put all the roadblocks to deliver his ticket prices to the fans.”

When screenshots of a non-Live Nation space selling high tickets surfaced – the organization made a “fast decision” to spend their own money, instead of justifying the issue to protect their credibility.

“There was a screenshot of a venue, which wasn’t even a Live Nation venue…that showed a ticket service fee of $20 on $20. It doesn’t matter whether we justify the service fee is a good or not, we have an industry where we have to build some credibility back,” Rapino told the outlet. “I couldn’t defend in any version that we were going to add a $20 service fee to a $20 ticket. We made a decision that we would spend some money, give back the $10, and it to be a reasonable place for those fans.”

Lefsetz asked if fans could expect to see The Cure for $20 in an Arena. He quickly confirmed, ‘No.’ The CEO continued to mention that creating ticket prices have been challenging, as there is a fine line they don’t want to cross.

“I think the pricing of concerts in general – there’s this fine line between, yes, we want it accessible, and it’s a fine art and there’s a price to it,” explained Rapino. “It’s a magic moment, maybe twice a year – way cheaper than Disneyland, or the Super Bowl, or the NFL or the NBA playoffs, or an expensive night out. So, it’s really cheap overall considering.”

Although Rapino believes the ticket business is “widely misunderstood,” he recognizes that there is still room for progress.

“I do think as an industry, we probably do have to absorb a bit better and think a little smarter at what is the add-on fee,” he pointed out. “Although it’s justified, I don’t think it’s justified probably at every ticket price point. At Live Nation, we’ll look at the lower-end ticket prices in the theater and clubs and say, ‘Can we also scale them back and make sure [there’s] a defendable fee on a service, on a ticket price.’”

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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