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Live Nation defends concert ticketing program that has come under fire

By Alfred Branch Jr.

A year-old VIP concert ticketing program launched by Live Nation has drawn criticism from some users, and is forcing the company to defend the initiative.

The program, called Concert Club under the company's VIP Nation moniker, offers members, at an annual cost of $1,500 in the popular New York Metropolitan area, "exclusive, personalized service, access to Live nation tickets" within the particular market and the "right to purchase hard-to-get tickets."

But, what some fans are finding out is that there are some unexpected exceptions.


As the world's dominant concert promoter, a title that will grow in stature should its proposed merger with Ticketmaster Entertainment is approved by government regulators, Live Nation is usually the company that sets the table for most of the major concert tours throughout the country, so obtaining tickets for club members should not be a problem.

However, artists and their representatives often withhold seats and set much of the criteria for which tickets are available, and how many, and Live Nation has had to inform club members on occasion that tickets are not available. In addition, tickets through the program are sometimes not premium seats, though the program does not promise that all seats will be premium.

In a recent New York Post story, members complained that the VIP program is expensive and hardly worth it. "You don't think I could get tickets to the top row of the mezzanine by myself?" an angry club member told the Post. "The best attraction of the service was that you could bypass Ticketmaster so I was willing to pay the upfront fee, but after all this I just want my money back."

Among major shows where tickets were not available or in very limited supply for club members in New York were Billy Joel, Dave Matthews Band and the Jonas Brothers; the young recording stars have an exclusive touring deal with Live Nation.

Even though the club works in a similar fashion to those of shopping clubs, such as Costco where people pay up front for savings later, Live Nation spokesperson John Vlautin told TicketNews that it is simply a convenience program. Members are notified via email in advance that tickets are available for certain shows, and they can then buy the tickets for as little as $10 each with an additional $10 fee per order.

"There are sometimes shows where we are not able to offer Concert Club members tickets, but these arise very infrequently," Vlautin said. "In fact in New York we have been able to offer Concert Club members tickets to 99.5 percent of all of the shows we have produced in the city since the program began in June of 2008."

Issues of transparency concerning tickets have dogged Live Nation and Ticketmaster for years, because the companies typically do not disclose how many tickets are made available for many shows. So members rarely know how many tickets will be disbursed, or where those tickets might be located.

He added, "It’s important to note that this club does not guarantee premium seat locations."

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