Ticketmaster is the sort of company that lots of people love to hate. It's long been dogged by complaints that it is anti-competitive
-- complaints which have gathered pace
with its recent move to merge with Live Nation. The company has done plenty of things to try to drive scalpers out of business before, in hopes of sucking up
their profit margins, and its latest move will further endear itself to fans. The WSJ reports that Ticketmaster is collaborating with artists and concert promoters to sell premium-priced tickets to shows on its TicketExchange site, and making them look as if they're being sold by fans
. Trent Reznor explains the situation in the eminently reasonable way
we've come to expect, saying that artists know they could charge much higher prices to some of their fans, but they "don't want to come off as greedy pricks asking that much, even though the market says its value is that high." So instead, they feed them to the reseller market, or as in this case, become the reseller themselves, but obfuscate that fact.
Ticketmaster execs decry the scalper market, and claim it's not fair to artists, who don't get any of the scalper's profits; under the TicketExchange deals, it divides the revenues with artists and concert promoters. This is all pretty bizarre: if Ticketmaster wants to jack up ticket prices, it seems like it would just raise them upfront. It's also not clear why the company thinks that it's abhorrent for scalpers to charge consumers high prices, but it's perfectly okay for Ticketmaster
to charge them prices over the tickets' face value. This news will hardly endear the company further to consumers, and probably won't help it with government regulators, either.