Friday, December 12, 2014

Online Concert Ticket Sales: You May Never Buy Tickets The Same Way Again

There are some changes afoot in the online concert ticket sales industry, and the way things are going this may affect tickets for all concerts.

First, in the UK, consumer advocacy body Which? has suggested that they will refer online ticketing companies to the regulators at the Competition and Markets Authority unless they justify the fees they charge.

Second, acts like Arcade Fire and Wiz Khalifa have started selling their tickets direct -- through sites like LivingSocial and Groupon, and doing it at deep discounts.

Does this mean concert tickets might be getting cheaper if you know where and when to buy? Let's take a look at the stories in more detail.

Booking fees facing scrutiny in the UK

According to British consumer body Which?, online ticketing firms add an average of 18% to the face value of ticket prices. 8 in 10 buyers believe this much markup represents a rip-off.

Normally companies add these charges for booking and delivery, though they're given names like "transaction fee," "service charge," or "fulfilment fee." In some cases the prices get as high as £16 per ticket, with delivery fees up to £7.50 -- and in some cases delivery fees are charged even when people collect their tickets at the box office or print them at home.

According to Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, "consumers can often feel ripped off," so the body has put the firms on notice they need to justify the fees and start treating customers fairly or face regulatory scrutiny.

The highest fees in the study were charged by Stargreen, which added 37% (or £9.25) to the £25 face-value price of a ticket to see a performance of Shakespeare in Love last July. Since the Which? action, Stargreen has added an option where buyers can collect tickets at the theatre box office at no charge.

Three different companies also charged "delivery fees" up to £3 to pick up tickets in person at the box office, and four companies charged up to £2.50 to print tickets at home.

Which? wants venues and ticketing companies to show their compulsory charges up front, clearly explain what they're for, and set prices fairly. The Musicians' Union agrees -- according to live performance official Kelly Wood, high and unexplained fees damage the relationship between artists and fans, as consumers often do not understand who has set the fees.

Arcade Fire, Wiz Khalifa offer Groupon, LivingSocial ticket deals

Music fans are discovering a new place to get deeply-discounted tickets and CDs for top-name acts: everyone from Arcade Fire to Color Me Badd has started going to Groupon to offer deep discounts on tickets in order to sell out concerts.

Tickets sold on Groupon are normally sold at anywhere from a 30 to 45 percent discount, and according to GrouponLive general manager and vice president Greg Rudin, the site started out focussing on last-minute inventory when they started selling tickets for Live Nation.

Now, more than a year later, they've persuaded the promoter, and other acts, to let them start selling advance tickets and sell them as a full partner. Previously tickets only reached Groupon when the promoter was "in trouble."

LivingSocial too has sold a variety of discounted tickets for everyone from Bruce Springsteen (in a one-off deal) to being an exclusive partner for six weeks hawking tickets to Oprah Winfrey's new tour.