This past December, Rolling Stone published an interesting industry - centric article detailing the ongoing business battle between ticket-sale monolith Ticketmaster, and live-show monolith Live Nation. Of course, everybody knows that until very, very recently, Ticketmaster was inescapable, even at certain small venues (locally, for instance, even Culture Room uses the company for its advance ticketing).
However, even casual music fans probably know about Live Nation's recent "360 deals" with the likes of Madonna, Jay-Z, and Nickelback, a new model contract meant not only to handle the artist's music sales, but also merchandise and ticketing. And with Live Nation also issuing tickets for its own shows through its web site, it seemed just a matter of time before the company dropped dealing with Ticketmaster where it could. (Certain venues, it seems, have exclusive ticketing deals where they must use Ticketmaster, regardless of who is promoting an event there).
It's already happening locally. Live Nation has its hand in a number of local venues, either promoting selected shows there (Revolution, the Seminole Hard Rock Live, American Airlines Arena, the BankAtlantic Center, etc.), or controlling the venue completely (the Fillmore Miami Beach, City Limits, Mizner Park Amphitheatre, Cruzan Amphitheatre, and the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre, among others).
Three of these will now use Live Nation ticketing exclusively: the Fillmore Miami Beach, the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre, and Mizner Park Amphitheatre. Of course, if you used Ticketmaster to purchase a ticket to a show at one of these places already, that ticket will still be valid. But from here on out, you must use livenation.com. At the Fillmore Miami Beach, that begins with the John Legend/Estelle show on January 30. At the Pompano Beach Ampitheatre, that begins with the Disturbed/Sevendust gig on February 14. No shows are currently scheduled for Mizner Park Amphitheatre (although we're hoping, personally, that Morrissey might pop up on that list).
So how does that affect ticket prices? In the Rolling Stone piece, Live Nation honchos promise a noticeable cutback on service charges. Nathan Hubbard, the CEO of Live Nation's new ticketing division, is quoted thusly: "The current model is broken -- pretending a ticket is $75
when the fan understands the ticket is $100. Now there are no rules. For those artists who want to try
something new and different, we're ready to try it."
It's hard to compare apples to apples, though, because so far, ticket prices for Live Nation shows have been set more or less to work out to the same totals, regardless of whether they were purchased through Ticketmaster or Live Nation. (However over the past year livenation.com has featured a number of $10 ticket sales and multi-ticket value packs unavailable through Ticketmaster.)
Tickets for the January 24 performance by Lewis Black, at the Fillmore Miami Beach, is the last show at the venue whose tickets are also still available through Ticketmaster. On that site, a ticket with a base price of $37.50 comes out, at its cheapest, to $54.40 (a $2 "building facility charge," a $9.75 convenience charge, a $5.15 order processing charge, and no charge for receiving the tickets by standard mail). The "buy tickets" link on Live Nation's site just redirects, in this case, to Ticketmaster.
For John Legend's show there, a ticket with a base price of $38.50 (they only go up from there though, damn), comes out to a total of $54 even -- a $13.50 ticket fee and a $2 facility fee. Well, that's slightly less than that comparable Lewis Black ticket, and the savings come out to potentially a little more when you consider that Live Nation doesn't charge to print the tickets at home. (Ticketmaster, by comparison, charges you $2.50 for the privilege of using your own printer ink for its Ticket Fast service).
We'll have to wait and see how the prices at these venues continue to change as a result of the switch.
-- Arielle Castillo
(Photo of the Fillmore Miami Beach via www.livenation.com)