Ticketmaster is a ticket monster

Here’s a riddle. How does a poor college student purchase an $8 concert ticket and end up paying $22? Answer: Ticketmaster.

Ticketmaster is the world’s largest company providing tickets for everything from Christina Aguilera concerts to monster truck rallies. Unaffectionately known as “Ticketmonster” by disgruntled fans worldwide, Ticketmaster is proving to be one of the most aggressive anti-consumer monopolies in recent memory.

Ticketmaster’s rise is similar to that of fellow evil entity Clear Channel. Ticketmaster grew from 3,700 clients in 1998 to more than 8,000 clients and is continuing to grow. Its method of ascent to greedy monstrosity was simple enough: Sign exclusive contracts with every sports, concert and program venue in town – city by city – then sign more exclusive contracts while strong-arming and buying out the competition.

Ticketmaster’s business model used exclusive contracts to charge exorbitant rates for everything from shipping to “convenience” to “service” fees. With no competition, Ticketmaster charges whatever it wants. In the last decade, Ticketmaster’s service charges have risen more than 300 percent. Many times, concert-goers end up paying Ticketmaster more than the original ticket price.

Ticketmaster has operated unscathed thus far only because of loopholes in the law. Currently, the public cannot sue Ticketmaster because they are considered secondary purchasers. Promoters and venues are Ticketmaster’s main clients and have typically sided with the company because they profit handsomely from hush money. But Ticketmaster might not be invincible.

We support boycotts of Ticketmaster. Unfortunately, this is difficult because the company controls the ticketing to virtually all events large enough to be advertised. Therefore, the main fight will fall to the courts and activist artists. Ticketmaster is no stranger to court – Pearl Jam made a memorable and valiant attempt in 1994 but failed. Most recently, the band String Cheese Incident has filed suit because Ticketmaster will not allow them to sell tickets to their own concerts. Hopefully, the band can slay the ticketmonster.