Control vs. Fans Rights

Earlier this afternoon, a panel discussion at Ticket Summit in Las Vegas entitled, ‘The Merger” was held to discuss the Live Nation / Ticketmaster merger that was approved by the Justice Department earlier this year. The panelists included Jeff Kline of Veritix, Doug Lyons of Tickets.com, and Don Vaccaro of ticketnetwork. For ticket brokers, the timing of the panel discussion could not have been better as almost simultaneously, Live Nations stock price is being hammered by news of a revenue dip and slow summer concert sales. This made harping on Live Nations business model very easy.

While Live Nations stock price tumbled, the panel got to the root of a key issue from the ticket resellers perspective and that is the issue of control. If a fan buys a paperless ticket, why can’t they sell it or gift it later? Why can’t someone in California buy a pair of tickets for a friend in Florida? Because Live Nation / Ticketmaster wants to keep those tickets out of the hands of resellers. Huh? wait. So inconvenience millions upon millions of fans because you want to control who can sell a ticket? Essentially, yes, though Ticketmaster usually veils the explanation. This discussion leads to the issue of ‘fans rights’ which is relatively new talking point in the ticket resale community.

For ticket resellers, fans rights are a convenient platform from which to argue that less control of tickets is better for the fan. This is of course because less control also means there are more opportunities for the secondary market. And that is really the point that this panel and industry leaders, including Chris Tsakalakis of StubHub wants to get across to consumers and industry players. Let the market run free and everyone can win.

A good question raised by the panel discussion is why can’t ticket resellers be viewed as just another distribution channel? What is the problem with presenting options to a diverse customer base? In recent years, major league sports have begun to partner with resellers (Ace Tickets and the Red Sox in Boston and StubHub partnering with the MLB, for example), so why can’t concert promoters and Ticketmaster do the same?

More to come from Ticket Summit 2010.

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