Live Nation’s Michael Rapino On Secondary Ticketing

At this year’s ILMC, Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino addressed secondary ticketing, which grew 34 percent year on year for his company, generating a GTV of $1.2 billion. 

Photo: via ILMC

“It’s a complicated issue, there’s no right or wrong,” Rapino said about the secondary market, which is currently evaluated at $8 billion. Rapino believes that to ensure the money gets to the “content holders,” the house needs to be priced right. Otherwise, only the secondary ticketing companies benefit. He suggested the live industry is the only industry in the world that could charge less than market value while wondering why people profit from secondary sales.

Referring to an article by Simon Jenkins in the London Evening Standard, Rapino said: “Charge $4,000 for the front row and then take $3,500 and give it to charity. I’d rather the artist have the $4,000 to figure out how to subsidize your fans than thinking it’s worth $400 [while] someone else [is] making $3,600.”

He said if tickets were priced according to what people are willing to pay, the artist would have a much larger contingent to give away. Rapino’s “formula” was trying to tell the artist “how to increase platinum, how to increase VIP, how to increase P1s. Put [them all] in the front-end, bring in back of the house cheaper.”

He called the stance of artists not wanting to charge their fans too much “honorable” but not realistic.

According to Rapino, StubHub was just meeting consumer need. “Our data says that 60 percent, 70 percent [of fans at home don’t care about] primary or secondary. [They] just want to go see a show, and these guys are solving [their] need. So in America we said that we can’t sit there and just let the market run away.”

He pointed out that around “50 percent, 60 percent of inventory on StubHub isn’t real, it’s spec selling.” Hence Ticketmaster+, which offers fans a controlled secondary option.

Rapino also emphasized that Live Nation wasn’t pocketing the above-mentioned $1.2 billion GTV, but rather the 30 percent service fee. “Ticketmaster, Live Nation, do not put one ticket on the secondary market ever. And the venue gets the majority of the service fee,” he said.