Live Nation Gets In Spat With Senator Over All-In Pledge

Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A powerful senator says Ticketmaster isn’t living up to its vow to implement all-in pricing. Live Nation says she’s misrepresenting the promise.

It’s the latest round in the always-bubbling battle between the global live entertainment leader and the folks on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, penned a letter this week asking why Live Nation hadn’t made all-in ticketing the default setting on Ticketmaster’s website, pointing to the company’s June commitment to all-in ticketing announced by the White House.

“Live Nation-Ticketmaster, however, has not yet made the all-in ticket price—including fees—the default setting for its platform. For many events, including those for its own venues, it is still too difficult to see the all-in price before checkout. In most instances, consumers must find and select a filter buried within a tab that gives no indication that it contains an option to display all-in pricing,” she wrote. “The existence of this filter shows that Live Nation-Ticketmaster has the technical ability to display all-in prices but chooses not to display that price to consumers as the default setting. Although Live Nation-Ticketmaster does not set all of the fees charged on its platform, you have a responsibility to be upfront with customers about the full cost of their tickets.”

In its response, Live Nation noted that its vow was to go to all-in ticketing for its owned and operated venues while offering it as an option for tickets for other events and that it never promised — and couldn’t promise — to implement all-in wholesale.

“We were proud to participate in President Biden’s June 15 White House forum on transparent pricing. In advance of that event, the President’s team asked us if we could move all of Ticketmaster’s sales to all-in pricing. We explained that Ticketmaster does not have the unilateral right to do that, as it is an agent for the venues that issue tickets and along with content owners (artists, sports teams, etc.) determine ticket pricing and how fees are displayed,” the letter, signed by CEO Michael Rapino, reads.

Speaking to NBC News, Klobuchar said Live Nation clearly has the ability to show all-in pricing for any tickets and that they should do so, but LN insists they can’t unilaterally implement all-in for tickets at venues they don’t own.

“It is true that we have not adopted all-in pricing for the many events that take place at venues owned or operated by other companies, but that is because we have no right to impose all-in pricing on those events. If we had the power to do that it would have been part of our commitment to the White House and our June 15 announcement. This just underscores the importance of all-in pricing legislation,” Rapino wrote

Rapino’s letter says Live Nation complies with state-level all-in laws, where they exist, such as New York, and that the company backs efforts for a federal law.

“We have supported mandatory all-in pricing legislation for years, including the new all-in pricing law in California and several bills currently working their way through Congress. And unlike several of our major competitors, Ticketmaster complies with both the letter and spirit of existing all-in pricing laws such as in New York. Anyone can confirm this by searching for tickets to a sporting event or concert in New York on Ticketmaster, StubHub, SeatGeek and Vivid Seats. On Ticketmaster the fans sees the all-in price; on the other sites the fan first sees a price without fees which increases substantially if they try to buy tickets,” Rapino wrote.

If they are claiming that somehow no one will let them say how much the ticket costs,” Klobuchar told NBC, “no, I don’t buy that.”

Events at LN venues that went on sale on or after Sept. 25 on Ticketmaster show the all-in price. Events with earlier on-sale dates do not.