Country singer Eric Church has strong words for ticket resellers, accusing brokers of profiting from fans’ losses. According to Church, resellers “join our fan club, infiltrate our system, take advantage of our system, and buy up all these tickets.” Church says these practices result in few available seats being left and the purchased tickets being sold at much higher prices. “We’ve been trying to play that game of keeping their access away on the back half of the tour, and it’s still a challenge,” Church told Billboard.biz. “They are just some slimy sons of [expletive],” he added.
In response to that statement, Don Vaccaro, the CEO of TicketNetwork, says he sees no difference between Church’s actions and that of resellers. “It’s apparent that Eric Church is holding the best tickets to sell at $199 each, depriving his fans [by] buying them at the face value of $40. It’s very deceptive to the average concert goer,” said Vaccaro.
TicketNews recently spoke with Fielding Logan, Church’s manager. “I’ve been frustrated during this particular tour because fans are being shut out of the goods seats [as a result of] the high demand on the shows. That demand is driven by resellers as far as I can tell.” Church’s “Blood, Sweat and Beers” tour kicked off in January and continues through May.
When asked about concert tickets being sold for $199, despite having a face value of $40, Logan defended the practice. The ticket’s special privileges justify its high price, says Logan. “That is a VIP ticket. That is a good reserved ticket or a seat in the pit,” Logan told TicketNews. “It [includes] a catered cocktail party. It includes an acoustic performance by Eric with exclusive merchandise.” The $199 ticket refers to the “Put a Drink in YOUR Hand” package, which was first publicized on November 21. The package includes a reserved ticket in the first 15 rows or in the General Admission Pit, access to a pre-show party, two acoustic performances with Church, a poster, and a T-shirt.
However, the VIP ticket does not include a meet and greet with Church.
According to Logan, Church keeps the average cost of a ticket to $42. This price respects state laws in Massachusetts and New York, where tickets can be resold for no higher than $2 above their face value.
Logan believes that earning a profit and providing the best experience for fans goes hand in hand. “We’re trying to have affordably priced tickets and clearly we’re leaving room for people to make money. But the goal is to have our fans with the best seats in the house with the most reasonable ticket prices,” he said.
When asked about his opinion of the secondary ticket market, Logan revealed a limited vision for the resale industry. “Where I see some value is specifically in sports for seasoned ticket holders. If a ticket buyer commits 40 games for the season, but some of those 40 games they cannot attend, having an organized market where they can resell their tickets makes sense to me.” When it comes to music performances, however, Logan stands by Church’s comments. As he sees it, performing artists rather than secondary brokers have fans’ best interests in mind. “Eric and I are on the same page,” Logan said.
Even with the VIP package, there is no guarantee that customers will be protected from additional facility fees. Furthermore, Church offers a similar “Put a Drink in YOUR Hand” upgrade for $168.55, but without tickets to the show itself. Therefore, to attend the concert, customers must purchase tickets separately. Since the lowest cost for tickets is $42, fans would pay a total price that is over $200.
These price gimmicks undermine Church’s criticism, argues Vaccaro. “When he says it’s not about the money, his actions seem to be at odds with that statement.”
TicketNetwork, Inc. is the parent company of TicketNews.