FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 11, 2009
SCHUMER, PASCRELL REVEAL: BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN TICKET DEBACLE TIP OF THE ICEBERG - IMPENDING TICKETMASTER MERGER COULD LIMIT CONSUMER CHOICE, SEND CONCERT TICKET PRICES AND FEES THROUGH THE ROOF
Tickets for New Bruce Springsteen Tour Went On Sale Monday and Were Sold Out in Minutes, However Hundreds of Tickets Were Immediately Available at Far Higher Prices on Ticketmaster Own Re-Sell Site "TicketsNow"
Officials Warn Consumers of Ticketmaster, Live Nation Merger Would Create Near Monopoly in Concert Ticketing That Would Only Make Situation Worse
Schumer, Pascrell Call for Immediate Anti-Trust Probe Into Merger - One Company Would Control Ticket Selling to Nearly Every Major Concert in the Country
In the wake of the Bruce Springsteen ticket selling scandal, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) today announced they are pushing an immediate federal probe into the process by which Ticketmaster distributed tickets to Bruce Springsteen’s upcoming “Working on a Dream” tour and whether or not the impending Ticketmaster-LiveNation merger violates current anti-trust laws. Tickets for the Bruce Springsteen concert, which includes several show dates in the New York Metro area, went on sale at 10:00 am Monday morning. Though most shows sold out within minutes, which is not uncommon for Bruce Springsteen concerts, Ticketmaster prompted customers to go to its own ticket re-sell website, TicketsNow, where hundreds of tickets were immediately available but at prices far above face value, being offered for hundreds of dollars more than the original price on Ticketmaster. The stated purpose of TicketsNow is to offer customers who previously bought tickets to resell them on the open markets, but Schumer and Pascrell have raised the question of how is it possible that so many tickets were immediately available on the TicketsNow website so quickly. Schumer and Pascrell today warned concert goers of a possible merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation that could potentially increase ticket prices even further and create a monopoly in the ticketing industry.
“There is something rotten in the state of Denmark,” Schumer said. “Fans who thought they were going to “The Promised Land” of Springsteen tickets instead found themselves in the “Badlands” of ticket scalpers. The fact that Ticketmaster owns and controls both of these websites raises serious question so we are asking the FTC to get to the bottom of this fast. No loyal Bruce Springsteen fan should be shut out of the going to see The Boss because of Ticketmaster pulling a bait-and-switch.”
“This recent flap with TicketsNow exposed how a corporation with too much influence over the entertainment industry can hurt the average American music fan,” stated Pascrell. “I am adding my voice to the opposition that Bruce urged regarding the Ticketmaster, Live Nation merger. Such a transaction brings up serious antitrust issues that may only further disadvantage middle-class Americans and disenfranchise consumers. I look forward to working with Senator Schumer to carefully vet this proposed merger.”
On February 2, 2009, Ticketmaster began distributing tickets to Bruce Springsteen’s upcoming “Working on a Dream” tour at 10:00 am. Tickets for the concert included several show dates in the New York Metro area. Most shows sold out within minutes, which has become the norm for Bruce Springsteen concerts. But unfortunately, Ticketmaster sent their customers to TicketsNow, its own ticket re-sell website, where scores of tickets were available for purchase but the prices had been greatly inflated. By 10:01 am, tickets to the concert on TicketsNow were hundreds of dollars more expensive than they were on Ticketmaster just one minute prior. TicketsNow claims to offer customers who previously bought tickets to resell them on the open markets, but consumers, along with Schumer and Pascrell have found TicketsNow and Ticketmaster’s behavior suspect.
In a letter to the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Schumer expressed his concern with Ticketmaster’s distribution process and with their affiliate company for secondary sales, TicketsNow. After being contacted by concerned consumers who experienced difficulty when they tried to purchase Bruce Springsteen concert tickets, Schumer pressed the FTC to investigate any potential conflict of interest between Ticketmaster and Ticketsnow because Ticketmaster owns and controls both entities. The goal of the investigation will be to ensure that consumers will not be lured into purchasing tickets at inflated prices.
Schumer added, “In these troubling economic times it is more disheartening than ever to think that a company like Ticketmaster would potentially manipulate the primary and secondary markets for concert ticket sales- a purchase that has become a luxury for many struggling American families.”
Springsteen has publically declared his frustration at the entire debacle as well and continues to assure ticket buyers that he will do his all to fix this mess. In a letter to his fans, Bruce Springsteen announced that he had asked that the now famous redirection from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow discontinue immediately to prevent any incidents like this happening again in the future. He has also ensured his fans that he and his managers do not participate in Ticketmaster’s or TicketsNow’s charges and that they do not receive any percentage of the amount above face value at TicketsNow. Ticketmaster pockets the extra money from the TicketsNow sales.
Ticketmaster Entertainment has also made news recently for talks of a merger with Live Nation Worldwide Inc. This merger would create a monopoly in the music ticketing industry and be subject to intense scrutiny from the Obama Administration. If the two entities were to merge, the sale of tickets, control of concert venues, and the representation of artists in those venues would be controlled by one organization, a potential problem for ticket buyers who could see prices skyrocket. The merged company would be called Live Nation Ticketmaster and would be made up of the two companies, Ticketmaster, the world’s dominant ticketing outlet and Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter. The merged company would have some manner of control over virtually the entire music industry.
“There is great potential for abuse when two companies of this size join forces,” Schumer said. “We must protect consumers against these practices and make sure that Ticketmaster and Live Nation both continue to provide tickets to buyers fairly.”
Springsteen hit on this point as well saying to his fans that, “…the one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be Ticketmaster and Live Nation coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing. The abuse of our fans and our trust by Ticketmaster has made us as furious as it has made many of you.”