The Cure brings down global giant Ticketmaster

The subject comes up in the press and on social networks when high-profile concerts are announced or when festivals put their tickets on sale: the price of seats. Whether it’s the Rolling Stones at the King Baudouin stadium or Madonna and Peter Gabriel at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, all the articles dedicated to these events also mention the price to pay to attend them. Minimum 199 euros for the Stones. Up to 324.70 euros for the Madonna. Not to mention the VIP packs… For Beyoncé at the King Baudouin stadium, these are available in 9 versions, the most expensive of which is 2,685 euros. With a Meet&Greet? Not even ! In the United States, the situation is worse. We saw seats for Bruce Springsteen’s American tour selling for 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 12,000 dollars!

If these examples are among the craziest, it is clear that in general, attending a concert is more and more expensive. Blame it on the pandemic and the energy crisis since the war in Ukraine? In part, certainly. But the real explanation has to do with the collapse of the record market in the early 2000s and the emergence of streaming. Fewer and fewer records are being sold and revenues from online listening are far from compensating for the shortfall. The concerts have therefore become the livelihood of the musicians.

However, not everyone is ready to play the one-upmanship game. This is the case of Indochina. It is out of the question for Nicola Sirkis to fleece his fans. Even if it means disturbing the community, the group imposes on its turner(s) and partners prices that remain accessible to as many people as possible, as the singer told us in November 2022: “I’m hated by all concert producers. Really! Because I manage to do concerts by demonstrating that at 85 euros a place, it’s tenable. Indeed, my goal is not to capitalize and make profit, unlike them. We will never do Golden Lawn, entry thing, etc.”

At war with overpriced places

Another example: The Cure. Announcing his US tour last month, Robert Smith said he had everything in place to avoid soaring prices. “We want this tour to be accessible for all fans. We offer a wide variety of prices that we believe are fair. Our ticketing partners have agreed to help us by minimizing the black market and ensuring tickets retain their face value.” confided the singer. Explanation: no dynamic pricing as exists across the Atlantic (places whose prices fluctuate according to supply and demand) and no resale possible on the market. Tickets are all personal and cannot be transferred to someone else except through platforms that identify fans and do not allow resale at a price higher than the face value of the ticket purchased. (‘Ticketmaster Verified Fan Page’ and ‘Face Value Ticket Exchange’). A system which is not free from defects had recognized Robert Smith on social networks, but which has the merit of putting spokes in the wheels of unscrupulous dealers.

Exorbitant fees

An excellent initiative, then. With one detail… The singer had not anticipated the additional costs charged by the platforms in question to buyers! It was a cold shower for them, but also for the leader of The Cure.

In the viewfinder: Ticketmaster and its “Verified Fan Page” platform. According to some tweets, the fee doubled the bill! Enough to sicken Robert Smith who did not hide his disgust while noting that the artists were not in a position to prevent these practices.

This did not prevent the singer from asking Ticketmaster for an explanation to understand what justified such charges. He had promised to get back to the fans if he got an answer. Word kept. Thursday, Robert Smith announced on Twitter having obtained from Tickmaster that the company reimburse part of these costs. 10 dollars for those who bought the cheapest seats, 5 dollars for the others. “After further conversation, Ticketmaster agreed with us that many of the fees charged were unduly high.”

Taylor Swift et Bruce Springsteen

To our knowledge, what happened on Thursday is unprecedented. And if this happens in the United States, it may have an impact on what we might experience in Belgium and more generally in Europe. Because the methods developed in the United States sooner or later end up being applied here. All? No, for regulatory reasons. Dynamic selling is not compatible with the legislation in force in Belgium, where the price of concert tickets must be clearly announced and indicated. It is also forbidden to resell them for more than their face value.

In the meantime, seeing The Cure bend the giant Ticketmaster could give ideas to other artists. Need we recall the disappointment of fans of Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen when tickets for their next tours went on sale?

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