Ticketmaster Entertainment may be experimenting with eliminating convenience charges for ticket purchases, but "they're not going to die off entirely," according to Ticketmaster Entertainment senior VP, assistant general counsel Joseph Freeman, who sat on a ticketing panel yesterday (Nov. 19) at the 5th annual Billboard Touring Conference in New York.
After recently announcing that it has acquired a controlling equity interest in Irving Azoff's Front Line Management Group, Ticketmaster Entertainment president Sean Moriarty said the company would "experiment" with eliminating add-on fees for some Eagles shows.
But on yesterday's "Two Tickets To Paradise" panel, Live Nation executive VP of business development and strategy Greg Bettinelli said that those eliminated convenience fees would still factor into the overall ticket price. Even so, Freeman noted that concertgoers would likely be less agitated if the add-on fees didn't appear on their credit card bills.
"I've had so many family and friends tell me over the years that they' happily pay $100 for a ticket, but the $90 plus $10 drives them bonkers," Freeman said.
Tickets.com chief commercial officer Derek Palmer agreed that additional ticket charges wouldn't go away, because "there are actual costs involved," he said. "We spend millions of dollars every year in infrastructure to provide these technologies."
While some on the panel agreed that Ticketmaster's paperless ticketing technology is emerging as a potential weapon in artists' efforts to eliminate resellers from the ticket-buying equation, others said the inconvenience of it could potentially be hurtful. Paperless ticketing -- which has been used by Tom Waits, AC/DC and Metallica -- requires concertgoers to bring the credit card they used to make the transaction, along with a valid photo ID, to the concert they're attending.
"Overall it's going to hurt primary sales," StubHub director of music relations Chuck Lavallee said. "Restricting the marketplace is only going to harm the marketplace."
Live Nation's Bettinelli said the problem with paperless ticketing is that "it doesn't help sell more tickets." He noted, however, that most artist fan clubs will "move toward the paperless model in 2009 and 2010."
Meanwhile, on the secondary market, TicketNetwork CEO Don Vaccaro said, "We're seeing a greater amount of tickets being sold for less than face value, which is a very bad trend. At the end of the day, consumers feel that they're paying too much for tickets at the box office when they see the secondary market selling tickets for less. It's embarrassing for some artists and teams."
On the flipside, secondary ticketing Web sites are seeing more traffic from concertgoers, "because they know that they will get great seats and much less than what the primary sellers charge them for," Vaccaro said.