What follows is a letter that I sent this past week to the corporate headquarters of Live Nation Entertainment, the newly merged company of Live Nation and Ticketmaster. It stems from an incident last weekend when my cousin and I attempted to get tickets for an Iron Maiden show in Chicago this summer.
Needless to say, in trying to get tickets we were dismayed at what took place.
It angered me enough to write a letter, directly to one of the company's corporate executives, in this case, Mr. Nathan Hubbard, the CEO of ticketing within the company.
Was I naive in this incident? Perhaps somewhat; I will confess that most of my major arena ticket purchases have been after the fact. By the time I've been aware of the show, enough time has passed that's it's always been possible that all of the best available seats have already been picked clean. Because of this, I've had to scrounge through EBay and the like for the tickets I wanted.
I'm old. I think I've afforded the right to buy decent seats.
For Iron Maiden, my cousin and I learned what most of you probably already knew: the deck is stacked firmly against fans before the tickets even go on sale. You'll read about the event below, but let me say this in my defense: I purchased tickets for AC/DC next month in a non-Live Nation venue and through a non Ticketmaster outlet and scored a pair of really good seats through the legitimate channels.
Shouldn't it be the same playing field all the way around?
It isn't, and it pissed me off. Enough to write a letter.
I emailed the Department of Justice a few months ago, asking that they rule against the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger. It may have stalled the merger somewhat, and increased the dialogue of consumer concerns, but it obviously didn't have the impact that many of us desired. I may forward the letter to Mr. Hubbard to the D.O.J. just for shits and giggles, an feeble attempt to show them how these fuckers run ramshot over you and me.
Do I expect resolution with this? Nope. I needed to vent and I vent better with words. To spell out my complaint is therapeutic and these sorts of letter writing things are something I do occasionally if pushed. I've got another one going to Toyota, but that's irrelevant here.
Secretly, all I'd like back is an acknowledgement. A brief note saying that Live Nation got my letter and that they're sorry for my inconvenience. But I am sincere in the claim that this kind of thievery will ultimately dismantle their house of cards as consumers get to a point where they say "Enough!" and stop going to shows altogether.
Did I do just that with the Iron Maiden show? Fuck no! It's fucking Maiden dude! My cousin and I dug deep and shelled out way too much money for a pair of really good seats.
Here's the letter.
Live Nation Entertainment, Inc.
Attn: Nathan Hubbard
9348 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Dear Mr. Hubbard:
I want to relay an experience that I recently had when attempting to purchase tickets for the Iron Maiden show at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre scheduled for July 18 of this year. Before explaining the details of my experience, allow me to briefly share a little bit about myself and my family.
For the past several years, my cousin and I schedule times where we can visit each other and go to a concert together. It gives us an opportunity to catch up, share family stories, and bond with a mutual affection toward music. Music played a vital role in our lives growing up and it continues to provide us with enormous joy through building new memories.
Tickets for the Iron Maiden show went on sale to the general public at 10:00am on April, 20th. Prior to this, my cousin acquired pre-sale passwords to get tickets through both the Live Nation website and the Iron Maiden fan club website. Through both pre-sale outlets, the tickets offered were for second tier seats in the venue leaving a large selection of seats in the venue’s first tier that provided a much better view of the stage. The Iron Maiden website did offer standing room only seating in the “pit” section as part of their selection, but such tickets would not necessarily provide the same level of visibility as a reserved seating ticket.
Based on this, we determined that our best option would be to wait until tickets went on sale to the general public. From our perspective, the faster that we ordered tickets after they went on sale, the better opportunity that we would have for good seats in the preferred first section of the venue.
This was not the case.
Within the first minute and after multiple attempts from several computers working to try to reserve the best seats possible, we discovered that the seats offered mirrored the same seats that were offered in the pre-sale. This suggests that all of the first section seats were sold within the first 60 seconds of the public offering or that the seats were sold prior to general offering entirely.
While the first scenario seemed unlikely, the second one seemed to be morally troubling.
Unfortunately, we discovered that the second scenario did take place after we immediately logged into EBay. It did not take us long to locate several sellers that offered the exact sections we were hoping to obtain through legitimate means. I don’t need to tell you that these sellers were offering the tickets at an inflated cost and that several sellers also had tickets for Iron Maiden shows at various venues from across the country.
At the risk of sounding naïve, how does such a system seem fair? My cousin and I followed the rules and attempted to purchase tickets directly from the band, venue, and ticket outlet only to be afforded a selection of poor seating options. Meanwhile, a broker with no ties to the band or community is awarded blocks of seating to make a profit, while providing none of the aforementioned distribution points anything more.
What this business practice ultimately does is to ensure that long-time fans like my cousin and I are left without an affordable way to support the band. If we do decide to purchase inflated tickets through an off-site broker, we’re left with no additional funds to purchase merchandising or any offerings that the venue provides to concert-goers. Further, it prevents us from spending money on additional concerts throughout the year, thereby decreasing the potential of Live Nation additional revenue.
I hope all of this is being considered as Live Nation Entertainment are bypassing real fans of music in return for higher percentages of sold tickets and greater resentment towards your company.
Yours in music,