While Ticketmaster Entertainment lobbies federal government officials to convince regulators to approve its proposed merger with concert giant Live Nation, the company is also waging a less conspicuous battle for the hearts and minds of legislators at the state level.
Following up on the lead of its CEO Irving Azoff, who trashed the secondary ticket market when testifying before Congress last month, Ticketmaster is quietly lobbying legislators in a few states, Florida and Minnesota among them, in an effort to have ticket presales outlawed.
Presales are just that, tickets that go on sale before they are made available to the general public, often going on sale to select fans or occasionally brokers. They have been an established component of the concert industry for decades, but now Ticketmaster wants them stopped.
In its settlement with New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram following problems with sales of Bruce Springsteen tickets, Ticketmaster vowed to stop the practice of presales from its reseller subsidiary TicketsNow and its TicketExchange Web sites.
However, by prohibiting presales, Ticketmaster would potentially have a competitive advantage over brokers and others because only the company and the artist would know how many tickets will be made available for sale for any given concert. Traditionally, blocks of tickets are withheld for most shows. Some are withheld due to stage configurations, while others are withheld to be distributed to various entities, such as fan clubs, venues, radio stations and record companies, promoters, managers and others.
A glaring example of this was during the popular and controversial “Hannah Montana” tour a couple of years ago when more than 40,000 tickets were released weeks after the tour had reportedly sold out.
A proposed bill in the Florida House of Representatives says, in part, that the state “… requires that person or entity who offers to sell or resell over Internet tickets to specified public entertainment or amusement events of any kind may not offer such tickets for sale until such tickets have first been offered for sale via an event-provider-authorized outlet or offering; provides exceptions…”
According to sources, Ticketmaster has hired a lobbyist in Florida to entice legislators to support the bill. Ticketmaster did not return a message seeking comment.
And, under a similar proposal in Minnesota, “No person or entity who sells or resells, over the Internet, tickets of admission to a sporting event, theatre, musical performance, or place of public entertainment or amusement of any kind, shall sell, resell, or offer to sell or resell, tickets prior to the tickets being offered for sale in the manner authorized by the provider of the event or provider of the venue.” Ticketmaster is also supporting this bill, according to sources.
The two bills follow a similar move by the Arkansas legislature, which passed a bill this month that halts speculative selling of tickets. According to Pollstar, Ticketmaster lobbied in support of that bill, also.