Saturday, December 8, 2018

Ticketing Is Broken | Lefsetz Letter

Jamie said the customer doesn’t want to know about the fees, they’re scared off if the fees are baked into the ticket price.

Jake said baby bands can’t develop because sometimes the fees are as much as the tickets.

A promoter said he had a show with seven pre-sales, and the end result was thirty tickets sold.

Marc said the biggest issue was awareness, people don’t know tickets are available. Meanwhile, Metallica sells fifty percent of their tickets before the general on-sale.

Greetings from Aspen, Colorado, where attendees are experiencing the twenty third iteration of what is now called Aspen Live. It used to be called the Aspen Artist Development Conference, back when labels sent their people and records were the music business driver. I ask you, how can Drake be the streaming victor and be unable to sell tickets in certain markets? Were the prices too high, or is live a separate sphere from recordings.

On the dais was David Marcus, a bigwig at Ticketmaster.

I was the interviewer and first I got his history, going to law school, hustling as a sole practitioner, working for music startups, then gigs at Ticketmaster and Warner, back when Lyor said every deal had to be a 360 one, to getting blown out after Lyor was axed, to working at ScoreBig, which failed. He had to cope with the failure, it’s tough. And then going back to Ticketmaster, with a different owner, heading up the concert/artist division.

And David laid out pretty clearly how he was working with acts to further everybody’s happiness and career. He said it was about identity, we don’t know who our customer is. Amazon does. And if we know who has the ticket and quash the bots…

But the fees are high because the venues take the money, from Ticketmaster, as an advance. The public is clueless as to this.

And the emphasis on the secondary market can halt primary ticket sales. And although Ticketmaster keeps touting the efficacy of Verified Fan, no one outside the company believes in it, and Ticketmaster won’t reveal the secret sauce.

So you know who is left out?


Ticketbastard, that’s what it’s called.

But Ticketmaster is only one part of the obfuscation food chain. Hell, who knows where they’re gonna be a year from now, better to sit at home and buy your ticket on StubHub the day before the show. Sure, you’ll pay more, but you’ll sit where you want, and you can always get a ticket.

But the public is ignorant too. People think they should be able to sit in the front row for sticker price for every show. IGNORE THEM!

And people buy extra tickets not knowing you cannot compete with the brokers, no way. List your ticket online for $100 and the brokers will underprice you at $99.99, instantly. That’s technology folks.

In other words, we’ve got the business we want, totally opaque, working for us.

But the consumer can’t understand it. Never mind the government, which is lobbied by the secondary market whenever policies are questioned.

And there’s this belief that we can continue to raise the prices and the public will tolerate it because they need to go and experiences are king.


People would rather sit at home and watch the NFL on the big screen. That’s what hi-def and 65″ screens delivered.

Any business that is consumer unfriendly is headed towards destruction.

That’s what Napster taught us. People don’t want to pay twenty bucks for one good track on a CD.

Napster gave them an option.

Right now there is no option for tickets.

But the wheel always turns, change always comes.

Look at it this way, while we fought the future we ended up with fifty percent of recorded music revenues. You’ve got to disrupt yourself. This industry is afraid of change.

Meanwhile, the skiing is great.


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