Live Nation's Plans To Annoy More People?

from the tone-deaf dept

Last week, we briefly mentioned how sad it was that Ticketmaster/Live Nation's boss Irving Azoff seems so confused into thinking that stronger protectionism really is better for content creators. In that post, I mentioned that last year I spoke with a few top Live Nation execs, who appeared to understand the value of treating customers right, and looking for ways to enable CwF+RtB-style business models. They even talked about using companies like Zappos -- a company which has built up incredibly loyal customers though amazing customer service, even if it means taking a big financial hit itself -- as an example to learn from. I have to admit that I was impressed, but realized the company had a huge negative image to overcome -- and that merging with Ticketmaster wasn't going to help. Still, I thought that it would be quite a story if the company really could embrace that kind of thinking and rebuild its reputation.

So far, it doesn't look good. Beyond Azoff's bizarre anti-consumer tweeting, the company's plans seems to be about as tone deaf to consumer concerns as you can imagine. Now, obviously, this is a giant company, and it has Wall Street investment bankers to please, so it has to tell some sort of numbers-based story. But, the story it's telling is basically "we can squeeze more money out of consumers and artists overseas, so we're going to focus on that," which isn't compelling to anyone (artists, fans or investors -- who note that the company hasn't had as much success overseas).

It seems like perhaps there's a tale of two views at Live Nation: one that's actually focused on building out a sustainable business, and the other that appears to have gotten data happy. I'm a big fan of collecting and analyzing as much data as possible, but it's possible to get lost in that data at times, and lose sight of the big picture. So, right now, the data is telling Live Nation that US fans don't want to pay as much, and US artists want a bigger cut. So it wants to focus elsewhere. But, it seems to be forgetting to figure out why that is. Azoff seems to want to blame file sharing, but that's a red herring. Perhaps the company should look at the company's own image and how widely it's hated out there. People pay for Ticketmaster/Live Nation tickets in spite of the company, not because they like the company.

Azoff apparently scolded investors asking him questions about the company's poor performance, blaming them for not "getting the message." This is the same approach the company recently took in trying to explain its ticket fees, saying that the problem was that fans just didn't get what Ticketmaster was doing. Blaming everyone else for just "not getting" you, isn't an approach that's going to win over many people. You need to actually start showing people through actions.

One of the reasons why the company's margins might be so tight in the US is that it has focused on trying to squeeze every last dime out of fans without giving them enough value in return. Zappos isn't the cheapest retailer out there, but people buy from them because they know the experience is worth it. Perhaps Live Nation/Ticketmaster should take a step back from the data and look at ways to actually wow fans and artists with an experience that over-delivers, rather than has them holding their nose every time they have to hand over money. That is, why not focus on actually adding value, rather than looking for every nook and cranny to charge people more.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 11:30am

    If you own the farmland, the barn, the cows, the ranch hands, the milk...control the transportation & pay for shelf space in the store: Why would you even bother worrying about the customer?
    You didn't get over the legal recommended limit of mouse turds & we should be commended for that!
    I mean unless you WANT mouse poo...then we have a band for you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    sehlat (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 11:49am

    Data Is Not Information

    There's a story I picked up about product marketing that's relevant here. There was a product that should have been an enormous hit with older people, and it wasn't selling very well. Somebody actually went out and watched the shelves in markets. They discovered that the product was generally placed very low on shelves. This led to the discovery that older people did NOT like having to bend to get the product, because they were frequently "butt-brushed" by other, impatient, shoppers trying to get by them while they were retrieving their intended purchase. The product sold like gangbusters when they changed the shelf placement.

    As the research people involved commented: All the data in the world would simply have told them it wasn't selling. It would never have said a thing about WHY it wasn't selling.

    It's pretty clear that Azoff's more interested in data than in customers.

     

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  3.  
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    rabbit wise (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 12:41pm

    righteous Indignation

    I cannot stop flying unless I want to lose my job and never see my folks. Despite the horrible customer service and high prices for a shrinking product, I am a slave to the major airlines.

    However, I can stop buying tickets for Ticketmaster events and stop paying enormous fees and dealing with horrible customer service. I live in a market that has a lot of events coming through and I usually do not go to them specifically because of Ticketmaster. A concert would be nice but not supporting a company that I loath, so much better.

    It is my little way of giving back to the world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    Is the comparison between Ticketmaster and Zappos a good one? When you buy from Zappos, you get something (presumably shoes). Ticketmaster on the other hand, is just a middlemen inserting themselves between you and what it is you are trying to buy (presumably admission to a concert).

    It might actually be all in the way the price is communicated. If Zappos sold you shoes for $25 + $15 shipping + $4.25 Handling + $2.10 convenience + $1.10 insurance, maybe we would hate them just as much.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 2:16pm

    Re:

    I thought the main article was appropriate but I am sure LYV will miss the boat for the next few years and some other option will be available and LYV will hit the pink sheets.

    For this post, I think the AC contradicts himself. LYV and Zappos are both middlemen. Does Zappos make shoes or just sell them? There may be something to the pricing argument though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re:

    Zappos sends you shoes. They would be like Ticketmaster if they instead sent you a slip of paper that you could take somewhere to get your shoes.

    Ticketmaster sells tickets. Unless you are reselling the tickets, they are not what you are actually trying to pay for -- the concert or event is.

    Another difference: Zappos (as far as I know) doesn't try to prevent others from selling shoes to you. TM normally has exclusive contracts with venues and promoters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 3:14pm

    So basically this "middleman" want to find markets with less savvy suppliers and customers -i.e. they want a market with lots of suckers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Solohan50, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 3:49pm

    I can't stand Ticketmaster. Most of the concerts I go to are between $20 and $30, and Ticketmaster always tries to add like $15 to the cost of each ticket; that's almost doubling the price on a $20 ticket! I've gotten to the point now where I would rather spend $15 in gas to drive and pick up tickets from the venue's box office, rather than give Ticketmaster the money.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    dontworryaboutit, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 4:41pm

    Re:

    Did you know that the price you'd pay on stubhub (or any other secondary market company) is probably 2x what you pay on Ticketmaster? Also, artists get some of those fees - it doesn't all go to Ticketmaster's pocket.

    What Live Nation is able to do, b/c it's so big, is provide economies of scale and bring you concerts at a cheaper price. People are stupid - they don't make money on ticket sales (the dollar amount); most of that goes to the artist. They make money on the stuff you buy at the concert. it is actually to their benefit to sell at a lower price b/c it gets more people in the door (the artist suffers if ticket prices decline).

    I just left the promotion business so I don't care anymore (before I'd go a long and say Live nation is the devil). People are just ignorant.

     

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  10.  
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    greg.fenton (profile), Sep 1st, 2010 @ 6:33am

    Note to Entrepreneurs: It's Your Fault

    As I read this article, I re-read the blog post I have printed out and posted on my office wall:

    http://www.marksonland.com/2010/03/note_to_entrpreneurs_its_your_1.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Matt (profile), Sep 1st, 2010 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re:

    In many markets, including mine, Ticketmaster does not promote anything. They just sell tickets. That I could buy at the box office without the additional fees.

    Ticketmaster is not even a middleman - it does not sell tickets, it sells a ticket delivery system. If not for TM's restrictive relationship with the promoters and venue, I could get the same product by paying a kid to ride his bike over to the venue and buy my ticket.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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