Following a push from the Biden administration, concert promoter Live Nation is vowing to be more transparent in telling consumers how much they're paying for a ticket to a show.
Ahead of a White House event Thursday to tout the government's effort to crack down on "junk" fees, the company said it plans to roll out "all-in" pricing for venues it owns that will allow ticket buyers to see all fees for an event at the start of a commercial transaction. The new system will be live in September, according to the White House.
"This is real transparency which leads to more competition and brings down costs for working Americans," President Biden said Thursday at a White House event attended by Live Nation Venues President Tom See and the CEOs of Seat Geek, xBk, DICE and TickPick.
Ticketmaster, the popular ticketing service owned by Live Nation, will also add an optional feature for users to see upfront pricing for all tickets sold on the platform, not just those at Live Nation-owned concert venues. However, it will be up to venues to choose how their prices are displayed, a Live Nation spokesperson said.
"Fans typically know tickets will include service fees, but seeing the total cost from the start makes buying tickets easier and consistent with other retail shopping experiences," the company said in a statement.
"Sickened" by junk fees
Add-on ticket fees, which sometimes exceed a ticket's face value, have become a target of political and popular outrage in recent years. Democrats in Congress recently introduced the Junk Fee Prevention Act, which would bar extra fees for communication services, event tickets and airline seating.
The Cure frontmanlashed out at Ticketmaster in March, saying he was "sickened" by fan reports of fees for his concerts exceeding the ticket's face value.
"TO BE VERY CLEAR: THE ARTIST HAS NO WAY TO LIMIT THEM. I HAVE BEEN ASKING HOW THEY ARE JUSTIFIED," Smith tweeted.
At a Senate hearing in January, members of the banddescribed making just $6 from a concert ticket that Ticketmaster sold for $42 after adding on a 40% fee.
Ticketmaster's commitment to be more open about its pricing practices could be a boon for consumers — the platform controls about 80% of ticket sales in the U.S., and parent company Live Nation operate some of the country's most popular and profitable venues. More than 30 million people attended an event at a Live Nation venue last year, according to the White House.
"This is a huge win for consumers," Teresa Murray, consumer watchdog at the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, said in a statement. "The elimination of surprise junk fees shouldn't be limited to entertainment and hospitality companies. There are many industries, including airlines, retailers and banking, that can and should do better."
All in on all-in pricing
All-in pricing options are also coming to SeatGeek and to xBk, an event venue based in Des Moines, Iowa.
"People have been calling for all-in pricing for concert tickets for some time," Chuck Bell, advocacy program director for Consumer Reports, told CBS MoneyWatch.
"We think having price transparency is really desirable because people can make better purchasing decisions, but it's probably not going to limit how much [venues] are charging,' he added. "Mainly people will be able to more accurately forecast spending."
Beyond the concert hall, Consumer Reports is pushing Congress to go further in regulating the covert fees that commonly show up in booking a hotel room, renting an apartment, and buying a car, cell phone or airline ticket.
"Unfortunately this issue is not just limited to a few sectors — it's shot through the economy," Bell said. "We hear from people on fixed incomes who say, 'These fees are eating up more and more of my Social Security check.' This situation is more serious than it might appear from looking at just one industry."
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