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Tennessee Performing Arts Center ends relationship with Ticketmaster

By Alfred Branch Jr.

Claiming the jump in online ticket sales permits it to better serve customers directly, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in Nashville has begun selling tickets on its own, ending its 29-year relationship with Ticketmaster.

TPAC is made up of four performance venues, Andrew Jackson Hall, James K. Polk Theater, Andrew Johnson Theater and War Memorial Auditorium, which combined seat more than 5,400. But while the capacity numbers won't make much of a difference to Ticketmaster's bottom line, the symbolism of one of Nashville's more popular entertainment entities ending its deal with Ticketmaster shows the changing nature of the ticketing industry. The move away from Ticketmaster occurred because the two sides did not renew their most recent contract.


"Especially with the dramatic increase in online ticket sales, it makes better business sense to sell tickets on our own system," Brent Hyams, TPAC’s executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement. "The new model supports direct relationships between TPAC and its customers, who will pay less handling fees and communicate directly with our staff during transactions. On a number of levels, this system will be more efficient and cost-effective for TPAC and its customers with software which was designed specifically for performing arts centers and has been customized for our operations."

Effective today, July 1, fans are able to buy tickets for current or future events from the TPAC Web site, or by visiting or calling the box office, but not through the Ticketmaster Web site or its retail outlets. Ticketmaster will continue to sell a few events it was already selling for the center, such as the upcoming run of the popular musical Wicked.

Ticketmaster spokesperson Hannah Kampf told TicketNews and the The Tennessean newspaper that the company wishes the center well. "While we're saddened to lose our longtime partner, we understand the competitive business we are in and that our venue clients have many choices. We wish TPAC nothing but continued success in the future with the arts-specific in-house software they have chosen."

The move comes as Ticketmaster tries to gain federal regulatory approval of its proposed merger with Live Nation, and news of a defection from its ranks could give other venues a fresh idea to do the same. TPAC reportedly hopes to slightly lower ticket costs by going out on its own because it does not plan to charge service fees as high as Ticketmaster, which often added more than $6 per ticket.

“This is a business decision" Hyams said in a statement. "The Tennessee Performing Arts Center greatly appreciates the dedicated service and support from Ticketmaster’s leadership and staff over the years. We enjoyed a great partnership over a time of tremendous change in the ways that people purchase tickets. We’ll miss Ticketmaster staff who worked closely with us."

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