Is Ticketmaster The Reason For High Ticket Prices?

Ticketmaster is not the reason for high ticket prices to Olivia Rodrigo's Guts tour. She joined A list bands this year as one of the most expensive acts on tour. Tickets sold out fast and resellers, not Ticketmaster, are the reason for high ticket prices.

Live music fans blame Ticketmaster as the reason for high ticket prices. Is this true? And if the recent Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit succeeds in breaking apart LiveNation and Ticketmaster; will it high ticket prices come down? The answer is likely No. As much as we can hate on LiveNation, it’s pretty unclear they exert much power on ticket prices. We talked about this a bit in our previous blog post: Ticketmaster Concert Prices: We Love to Hate Them. We’ll talk more this post about why Ticketmaster doesn’t control prices, what’s causing ticket prices to go crazy and what can be done about high ticket prices.

At Small Venues, Ticketmaster Isn’t the Reason for High Ticket Prices;

Tickets to smaller venues and non sold out shows are generally quite reasonable these days. Even in Ticketmaster venues, like Antone’s in Austin or the many House of Blues locations throughout the US, you can see B and C list bands for $50 (if they’re not soldout). $50 to see a good show is still historically affordable. $50 in 2024 is equivalent to paying $24 for the same act in 1994. This is hardly a massive increase in the last 30 years.

Ticketmaster Does Not Control the Small Venue Market

Ticketmaster does not dictates ticket prices for venues that don’t use them. For example, in Portland, virtually none of the live music venues use Ticketmaster. Similarly in Austin, many venues use someone besides Ticketmaster for ticketing. AXS (3TEN Live), to smaller companies like EventBrite (Saxon Pub), PreKindle (Mohawk), SeeTickets (Empire Control Room) and Etix (Come and Take It Live) are the ticketing providers for these smaller venues. In smaller venues, there seems to be competition. Sometimes venues even change ticketing providers (such as 3TEN Live changed from Ticketmaster to AXS earlier in 2024). If fans consider ticket prices for shows at these non-Ticketmaster venues to be too high, then it’s likely more an issue the perceived cost of the show is too high; which has nothing to do with Ticketmaster.

Resellers, Not Ticketmaster, Reason for High Ticket Prices

Instead, crazy prices come at the very top end of the market (Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and Olivia Rodrigo to name a few). Ticketmaster illustrates the skyrocketing costs for these A listers here. It’s unclear why certain these A list bands ticket prices exploded so much in the last few years though (Pink shows went from $350 in 2018 for GA Pit to $3,000 in 2024). However, this price increase does not seem to be due entirely to Ticketmaster raising the prices on these A list tickets, because A list bands have a great deal of control over on the prices of their tickets. Instead, fans feel the skyrocketing prices in the reseller market (SeatGeek, StubHub, etc.) where ticket brokers buy up inventory and then resell it for 10-20X what they bought it for.

Reducing the Impact of High Resale Ticket Prices

There’s a few ways to reduce the impact of high resale ticket prices (which again seem to mostly affect A list shows). Some of these have been endorsed by Ticketmaster as reasonable solutions, some are in recent Congressional legislation and some are proposed by live music fan coalitions who want to do something about escalating prices:

  1. Limit Ticket Transfer: The idea here is limit transferring of tickets between buyers. If you buy it and you can’t go, you’re out of luck. You can’t resell it and you can’t give it to a friend. Resellers hate this idea, but Ticketmaster has supported it. Resellers say it will entrench Ticketmaster as the primary ticket provider and further monopolize their hold on the ticket market.
  2. Limit Resale Profit Margins: Put a cap on the % over face value that a ticket can be sold for. This idea is gaining momentum in the UK. A similar law has already been put into place in Ireland. Ticketmaster has not taken a position on this, however resellers have taken a position against for obvious reasons.
  3. Limit Companies from Selling both Primary and Resale Tickets: Prevent a company from being in both primary and resale ticketing businesses. The idea is that it creates “double dipping” where a company like Ticketmaster sells the primary ticket to a broker and then they broker turns around and lists that ticket on their resale site. Resellers have supported banning Ticketmaster from being in the resale ticket space, but (for obvious) reasons Ticketmaster has opposed this.