Report: Billboard Obtains Secretly Recorded Phone Call Revealing How Live Nation Helped METALLICA And Other Artists Place Concert Tickets Directly On Resale Market
July 21, 2019, 5 months ago
Billboard is reporting they have obtained a secretly recorded phone call that offers an inside look into how Live Nation helped Metallica and other artists place concert tickets directly on the resale market.
In February 2017, days before Metallica announced its WorldWired North American stadium tour, Live Nation president of U.S. concerts Bob Roux spoke by phone with a little-known wealth adviser turned event promoter who had been tasked by an associate of the band to sell 88,000 tickets directly on resale sites like StubHub, without giving fans a chance to buy them through normal channels at face value.
"Ticketmaster will not do it," Roux can be heard saying on the 11-minute call that Billboard reviewed in full, explaining that the plan to put the tickets on sites billed for resellers had to be concealed. He suggested that "either a Live Nation employee or a venue box office basically take these and sell them into a singular account," the way tickets are typically allocated to fan clubs or sponsors. Once the tickets were placed there, they would be listed and sold on secondary-market sites.
"When this happens, 4,600 tickets into a single account," said Roux on the call, "there may be some eyebrows that get raised."
In a rare acknowledgment of an industry tactic little known to the public, Live Nation now tells Billboard that the company has facilitated the quiet transfer of concert tickets directly into the hands of resellers through the years, though only at the request of the artists involved -- who control where the tickets are initially sold.
Between 2016 and 2017, "about a dozen artists out of the thousands we work with asked us to do this," the company said in a statement to Billboard.
Live Nation told Billboard that artists rarely seek its help to sell their own tickets on the secondary market anymore, suggesting how fast the business is evolving as artists test its new tools to capture some of the profits that were going to resellers.
"Since then, requests like these have declined virtually to zero as tools like dynamic pricing, platinum seats and VIP packages have proven to be more effective at recapturing value previously lost to the secondary market," the company said. It's now "standard practice is to use Ticketmaster's Platinum, VIP and other tools to help tours price closer to true market value," but noted that "in this situation, a consultant for the band opted to use the secondary market to try to capture that value," a plan that would potentially have benefited Live Nation as well.
The consultant was Tony DiCioccio, an insider with Metallica, who worked with the group as a "ticketing consultant," the band's publicist told Billboard.
Metallica's longtime managers are Q Prime co-founders Cliff Bernstein and Peter Mensch, but those who have worked with the band said DiCioccio, a former Q Prime manager, is "family" to Metallica, and a publicist for the band told Billboard that DiCioccio is still employed directly by the group. "If there's five seats on the jet flying home, it's the band and Tony," says a source who has worked with DiCioccio.
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