Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) came out firing Thursday in testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce about H.R. 3248, slamming Live Nation as a monopoly and peppering his remarks with references to Metallica. Speaking during Member Day remarks, Rep. Pascrell pushed for his bill, the Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing (BOSS) Act.
“It’s time for Congress to ‘Turn the Page’ and pass legislation to add regulation, impose some order, and stop bad actors who make a living by ripping regular people off,” Rep. Pascrell told the committee, which is chaired by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. – a co-sponsor of the BOSS Act.
Rep. Pascrell referred to Metallica repeatedly throughout his remarks, referencing six song titles as well as directly addressing last week’s Billboard article where Live Nation admitted its role in helping band management scalp nearly 100,000 tickets to its own shows.
That “scam” is just one symptom Live Nation’s unchecked power in the entertainment business, which runs from venue ownership to talent management to ticket sales, he argued. “They have sway over everything, including the peanuts you buy there.”
“If there ever was a monopoly, this is it.”
His remarks are available to view on YouTube below. We have also transcribed them in their entirety. Please excuse any transcription errors.
For those curious, the specific Metallica songs referenced, in order: Wherever I May Roam, Nothing Else Matters, Turn the Page (note: a bit of a stretch, as it’s originally a Bob Seger tune), Sad But True, Whiplash (note: kudos to the staffer for pulling a deep cut off the band’s first album), and For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) Testimony – House Energy and Commerce Committee
I thank you for the opportunity to highlight the need for transparency and regulation in the badly corrupted primary and secondary live events ticket marketplace.
[It has] Been in the press a lot lately. We tried nine years ago unsuccessfully and I think it’s time again that we look here.
One of my favorite groups is Metallica. A lot of the young people today like to go to their concerts, and I think they have to give a pint of blood too, in order to get in there, because the tickets are so expensive.
I’ve followed this marketplace for over a decade. Wherever I May Roam is one of Metallica’s songs – wherever I go across the country, Canada, I hear complaints from my constituents on their frantic, Ticketmaster, frantic experience with ticket sales. You can’t believe the mail we get on this subject.
It’s the furthest thing from our minds when we come to work in the morning, but I’m telling you, fact of life here.
The combined behemoth dominates a $9 billion per year industry and holds over 80 percent of market share. They have sway over everything, including the peanuts you buy there. The record sales, licensing, the talent, talent management, venue ownership, ticket sales, the concessions, down to selling hotdogs and pretzels.
You name it, it’s there.
If there ever was a monopoly, this is it. Sorry Mr. Holden (SIC*), you blew it. You know what I’m talking about. He permitted the merger of [Live Nation and Ticketmaster].
The GAO Study of the live tickets industry that chairman Pallone and I requested notes questionable industry practices that surprised no one who has tried to buy tickets. It’s important to emphasized the marketplace has been governed by zero federal regulation. Live Nation operates with impunity. Another Metallica song – Nothing Else Matters to them but profits.
It’s time for Congress to Turn the Page, pass legislation to add regulation. Impose some order and stop bad actors who make a living by ripping off regular folks. Daily.
The Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability of Concert Tickets, better known as the BOSS Act – I wonder why we named it that – is endorsed by all the consumer groups, and attacks problems in both the primary and secondary ticket marketplace.
The BOSS Act makes one easy fix. Bans the last-second fees, [it] requires every seller advertising all fees up front, which most none of them do. GAO estimated that primary and secondary ticketing companies charge fees averaging [between] 27 and 31 percent of the ticket price.
In my neighborhood of Patterson New Jersey, that’s called thievery.
At the FTCs ticket forum last month, nearly every stakeholder agreed that they could accept such a law. And for fans, all-in pricing would allow for easier comparison, stopping to find the best deal.
The BOSS Act lets ticket buyers know how many tickets are going on sale, how many are being held back, and where are those tickets coming from. It will also prevent those with connections to venues and artists from knowingly reselling tickets at a jacked-up price.
For the secondary marketplace, the BOSS act addresses speculative ticket sales, and so-called white label sites that trick consumers.
I first introduced the bill 12 years ago, when there was a major issue with a Bruce Springsteen tour, and these problems aren’t going away.
Just last week, Billboard magazine uncovered the latest scam. Unbeknownst to fans, apparently Ticketmaster/Live Nation was working with the band’s management to hold back 88,000 tickets and post them directly on resale sites. That’s Sad, But (it is) True.
Ticketmaster has denied past participation in such schemes, but in this case of Whiplash, Live Nation admitted to the scheme last week, and about a dozen artists between 2016 and 2017. And could still be doing the same.
This is wrong.
I think we need a commitment to Toll the Bell for an end of the unregulated ticket marketplace by passing the BOSS Act.
*Presumably a reference to Eric Holder, who was the head of the Justice Department for the Obama administration at the time of its approval of the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger)