A Generation Later, Pearl Jam Shifts From Fighting Monopoly To Lobbying On Its Behalf
IndustryLegalTop Story February 18, 2020 Olivia Perreault
Pearl Jam, which once famously fought against Ticketmaster’s dominant control of the concert business, is now advocating for changes that the Live Nation-owned ticketing giant would love to see to the proposed BOSS Act.
The rock band penned a letter to New Jersey Democratic representatives Bill Pascrell and Frank Pallone, Jr., Politico reports, urging the pair to take another look at the bill they first introduced in 2009. The bill, reintroduced last year, includes numerous elements designed to empower consumers including transparency in the ticket-selling process and regulations against scalpers and “bots.”
Pearl Jam noted in the issued statement that while they agree with parts of the bill, the BOSS Act is now “flawed” and “primarily, if not entirely, benefits professional ticket resellers using the so-called ‘secondary market.'” They are urging the Democratic lawmakers to focus on the blockage of non-transferable ticketing and the component that would require primary ticket sellers to disclose the number of tickets available to the general public a week before the seats head on sale. They believe that ticket sellers should not have to disclose the number of tickets available as this “hurts consumers more than it will help,” since resellers who normally purchase in bulk would care more about the total number of tickets than the fans.
“Over the last decade of selling concert tickets, we have seen this become an important tool to ensure fans get to see us at a reasonable price,” Pearl Jam said. “The benefits to bad actors in the secondary market ultimately hurt the consumers more than the challenges around restricting transferability as professional resellers get tickets meant for fans.”
The group announced last month that during their upcoming Gigaton Tour, all tickets will be non-transferable through Ticketmaster’s encrypted ticketing technology SafeTix. This means that ticket purchasers are required to enter the venue with their guests, and fans who are unable to attend the show after purchasing tickets must only sell tickets through a Fan-to-Fan exchange on Ticketmaster, as “no other tickets will be accepted for entry.”
Fans who were a part of Pearl Jam’s fan club, dubbed 10 Club, had the chance to request tickets and prioritize which shows they’d like to attend, but miscommunication issues led to fans lashing out at Ticketmaster and the fan club. Those who didn’t score tickets or were not a part of the fan club had to register to gain access for general on sale tickets through Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program, which left fans with numerous problems including error codes and the inability refresh their page when purchasing tickets.
By using SafeTix and lobbying for new requirements as a part of the BOSS Act, Pearl Jam is trying to close the door on the secondary market and team-up with the primary sellers. This is a stark difference to their views from the ’90s, where the band took a stand against the ticketing giant and fought to end their monopoly in the ticket market across the country. During that time, Pearl Jam rebelled against Ticketmaster’s massive surcharges and began boycotting venues that used the ticketing service as their ticket vendor. They even spoke before the U.S. Congress, arguing that while they tried to keep prices below $20, Ticketmaster added high service fees.
Now, it seems that the tables have turned.
“We constantly think about these issues,” Pearl Jam said, concluding the letter. “Concert tickets are THE connection to our fans. We understand that people occasionally need to re-sell a ticket, and there can be beneficial elements to a secondary market, but we believe [the BOSS Act] in its entirety strengthens mass resellers and does not protect the consumer.”
See the full letter below via Politico:
The Honorable Frank Pallone
Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Pallone and Ranking Member Walden,
We write to you as one of the biggest touring bands of the last three decades. We also write to you as the working musicians and the MUSIC FANS we were for years before that. We haven’t forgotten what it is like to hunger and work so hard to see our favorite bands and as a result, we have worked continuously to ensure our fans can see our shows at a reasonable cost.
WE KNOW HOW TO SERVICE TICKETS TO OUR FANS. Only a few artists in our profession have worked to provide tickets directly to fans. We developed a system for our fan club outside of public sales. For almost thirty years, we have learned from our successes and failures; we have real time experience making sure people buying our tickets actually attend the shows and do not merely sell seats at a markup. We are sympathetic to fans who haven’t seen their favorite acts and who mistakenly believe that artists and promoters who are driving prices up through manufactured scarcity.
It is with that in mind that we oppose the Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing (BOSS Act) (H.R. 3248/S.1850). H.R. 3248 has been presented as a protection for concertgoers to get access to live concerts. Instead, we believe that it primarily, if not entirely, benefits professional ticket resellers using the so-called “secondary market.” We urge you to stand with us and our fans to reject this flawed legislation.
Some challenges we see with H.R. 3248:
It blocks non-transferrable ticketing: CONSUMERS NEED ARTISTS TO LIMIT SCALPING AND TICKET FRAUD to use and ensure that tickets go to fans instead of profit seekers; transfer restrictions make that possible. Over the last decade of selling concert tickets, we have seen this become an important tool to ensure our fans get to see us at a reasonable price. The benefits to bad actors in the secondary market ultimately hurt the consumers more than the challenges around restricting transferability as professional resellers get tickets meant for fans.
It requires primary ticket sellers to disclose the total number of tickets offered to the general public a week before the primary sale. THIS HURTS CONSUMERS MORE THAN IT WILL HELP, because consumers don’t make purchasing decisions based on how many tickets are available—bulk purchasers like professional resellers do. Many times in final planning, after tickets have gone on-sale, we are able to create additional ticket opportunities. Artists need to retain this flexibility, for example, to open “obstructed view” seats after a concert nears sellout. We have found this to be beneficial to true fan consumers that otherwise would have missed a sold-out show.
While H.R. 3248 as it is currently written would ultimately hurt our fans, we do think it contains some reforms that would benefit both consumers and touring artists. We support the elements that prevent “speculative ticketing,” where “bots” hold many tickets until they find a buyer, preventing real fans from buying tickets directly and misleading others into thinking they’re guaranteed a particular seat. We also agree that the secondary market should not be permitted to confuse consumers by using deceptive websites and support the provisions requiring clear disclosure of all fees attached to a particular ticket.
We constantly think about these issues. Concert tickets are THE connection to our fans. We understand that people occasionally need to re-sell a ticket, and there can be beneficial elements to a secondary market, but we believe H.R. 3248 in its entirety strengthens mass resellers and does not protect the consumer.
Please join us in opposing H.R. 3248.
Last Updated on February 18, 2020 by Dave Clark