As the dominant ticket company in the world, Ticketmaster must dance with a lot of different partners, often with conflicting agendas, such as venues, artists, promoters, fan clubs, brokers and legislators. It can be a delicate balance for the company in order to keep its competitive edge, and from a ticket broker standpoint, Ticketmaster has not always done a great job of reaching out. Couple that with the fact that Ticketmaster has often taken a hard line when it comes to issues of transparency and state legislation that might benefit ticket brokers, and one can see why the company’s relationship with members of the secondary ticket market is tenuous at best.
The issues were among the overriding concerns expressed during the meeting Ticketmaster and it’s subsidiary TicketsNow had with brokers in Las Vegas last month, where the two companies’ CEOs, Sean Moriarty of Ticketmaster and Cheryl Rosner of TicketsNow, tried to address some of those concerns, which TicketNews analyzed from a recording of the May meeting. In the fifth and final part of the series based on the recording of the meeting, TicketNews will examine some of what the two companies believe as it relates to improving their relationship with the market.
An example of the tight rope on which Ticketmaster walks is with state legislation, particularly as it relates to how states deal with season ticket holders who resell their tickets. In New York and Colorado, season ticket holders cannot be punished for reselling their tickets. But while he said such moves represented “real progress,” Moriarty refused to fully endorse such initiatives in other states.
“I think state by state, we have to work out the situation and the specifics in any legislation,” Moriarty said. “If you want to talk about it in a perfect world, we have been fighting for unencumbered resale rights from the very, very beginning.”
The remark was met with jeers from brokers in the audience in Las Vegas, but Moriarty continued that with clients in every state, many of whom don’t agree with the company’s positions, Ticketmaster must take a “pragmatic” approach to supporting legislation, including compromise and balancing the complexities of each situation. “We’ve had a very pragmatic strategy which has always been designed to get us completely unencumbered as it relates to resale rights. Sometimes you can’t do that, sometimes you have to take short steps, sometimes you have to remain on the sidelines.”
Since 2002, when Ticketmaster began dabbling in the ticket resale market, Moriarty said Ticketmaster was supportive of fan resale of tickets, but as recently as early 2007, Ticketmaster was still publicly opposing the lifting of anti-scalping laws in states like Connecticut. “We’ve also been vocal about expecting people to play by what we consider to be fair and appropriate rules in a world where you’ve got a consumer to care about, and you have event organizers with rights as well,” he said. “So, if it’s gotten messy from time to time, I’d chalk that up certainly to the consequences of a radically changing business, and to the competitive pressures associated with doing that.”
“I’m still neutral about them,” Tom Patania, president of the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB), told TicketNews. “At the end of the day, who do they really represent? They have a lot of different interests, and that’s the challenge they have to deal with.”
Besides heading up the NATB, Patania also owns the New Jersey based ticket brokerage Select-A-Ticket, and he said that while he applauds Ticketmaster for sitting down with brokers at the Las Vegas meeting, he does not entirely trust them since the company acquired TicketsNow, and he’s not sure whether Ticketmaster can overcome the wary perception that he and other brokers have.
Patania and others worry that Ticketmaster will encourage artists and promoters to place tickets on the company’s TicketExchange or on TicketsNow and potentially squeeze out brokers. “It could get to the point where it confuses the public. There are so many different channels, so many different onsales,” he said.
Barry Fox, president of the Central States Ticket Brokers Association, agreed with Patania that while Ticketmaster and TicketsNow said all the right things during the Las Vegas meeting, “the proof will be in the pudding.”
“Ticketmaster has never been good to brokers, nor have they been particularly consumer friendly. I still don’t trust them, but I give them credit for walking into the lion’s den,” Fox said.
They only “found religion” once they began their resale efforts, Fox said of Ticketmaster, and now TicketsNow has begun to allow fans to resell their tickets, which he sees as a betrayal of the company’s broker-to-broker premise.
“It makes me sick,” Fox said.
Read more articles in this series.
|June 24, 2008:||How safe is broker data|
|June 19, 2008:||CEO predicts huge growth in secondary market|
|June 17, 2008:||CEO admits artists are reselling their own tickets|
|June 12, 2008:||A bright future for ticket brokers|