Report: How Live Nation Helped METALLICA and Other Artists Place Tickets Directly On Resale Market
July 19, 2019, a month ago
In February 2017, days before Metallica announced its WorldWired North American stadium tour, Live Nation president of US 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."
That conversation resurfaced after the other executive on the line, Vaughn Millette - now chairman/CEO of Outback Presents - sent a recording of it to Live Nation executives and board members in a June 27 email to alert them of information he had collected while working with the company as a business partner. Billboard obtained the email from a source close to Live Nation. Millette recorded the call between New York and Roux's Houston office line without Roux's knowledge, sources say, and has been building his own promotion business, now competing with Live Nation for clients.
The recording, which would have been legal to make without one party's consent under both New York and Texas state laws, offers an unprecedented view into how thousands of concert tickets for major tours have been sold first on the secondary market -- where resellers can mark up prices - without being offered to the public at face value. It also shows the extent to which the rise of online ticket sites has put pressure on artists and promoters to capture more of the profits resellers are making - and how Live Nation is uniquely positioned to help solve the problem, as the owner of the world's biggest ticketing platform that even its rivals use.
The difficulty of finding tickets at face value was the subject of a letter sent by Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., in 2018 to Ticketmaster president Jared Smith. Smith wrote back that "Ticketmaster does not have, and has never had, any product or program that allows ticket scalpers, or anyone else, to buy tickets ahead of fans."
Although the U.S. government does not regulate ticket sales, the Federal Trade Commission Act prohibits unfair or deceptive acts affecting commerce. The Department of Justice's antitrust division monitors competition in ticketing, and is tasked with enforcing a 2010 consent decree following Live Nation's merger with Ticketmaster that bans the company from retaliating against venues and promoters for not using its software.
But 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.
Read the full report at Billboard.com.