Why Ticketmaster’s monopoly on the ticketing industry hinders the joy of live entertainment

by Yethmie Goonatilleke, Editor-in-Chief

Scoring tickets to a high-demand concert has become one of the most stress-inducing and cutthroat processes for diehard fans. On top of being placed in a never-ending queue with thousands of people ahead of you, ticket-buyers need to deal with a glitchy website or the risk of Wi-Fi suddenly cutting out. Before there’s even a chance to place newly released tickets in the check-out basket, they sell out instantly. And if you didn’t manage to buy tickets when they first came out, it’s only a matter of a few hours before ticket scalpers start raising the price by what seems tenfold of the original selling price. 

While a massive influx of fans definitely increases the difficulty of buying tickets (especially for high-demand shows), recent events suggest that this isn’t the fans’ fault. The problem lies within the principal distributor of entertainment tickets today, Ticketmaster, as their greedy behavior diminishes the true purpose of live entertainment. Live entertainment should be centered around enjoying live music and creating memorable moments— it shouldn’t be about corporations making it nearly impossible and highly expensive to even attend an event. 

Ticketmaster, a company best known for its distribution of live entertainment tickets, has come under fire for monopolizing the ticket and live entertainment industry. In 2010, the company vertically merged with the company Live Nation. Rather than introducing new sellers to the ticket industry, this merger consolidated the industry and eliminated most forms of competition. While this combination of companies could be considered efficient, the merger only made the process of buying tickets sloppy. Because Ticketmaster barely has any competitors, there’s no urgency to create an efficient, orderly process. Instead, ticket buyers often are forced to deal with glitches and hiked-up prices. 

This issue was amplified following the announcement of Taylor Swift’s new tour, and many fans caused an uproar after failing to buy tickets due to Ticketmaster’s poor service. But Ticketmaster’s corruption is not just a recent thing; even before their merger with Live Nation, some artists recognized Ticketmaster’s corruption, such as Pearl Jam, a band that famously attempted to organize a concert tour without the use of Ticketmaster. Across numerous events, Pearl Jam and Ticketmaster butted heads over issues such as Ticketmaster’s unnecessary fees. When Pearl Jam had enough and decided to form a tour by themselves, Ticketmaster allegedly organized a boycott against the tour, threatening those who promoted Pearl Jam’s self-organized concert. 

It’s clear that Ticketmaster’s power in the ticketing industry has culminated in a monopoly, but what stands out to me the most about this situation is how Ticketmaster actively takes advantage of the enjoyment of live entertainment. To many, concerts are a favorite pastime—a celebration of live music. Ticketmaster going to the extent of boycotting a self-organized tour seems incredibly petty, and it additionally harms innocent artists who simply want to perform live. 

To sponsor concerts with extremely expensive prices seems incredibly unjust, diminishing the whole purpose of live entertainment. While Ticketmaster is currently being investigated by the Department of Justice, much progress needs to be made to improve the conditions of the ticketing industry. Their influence and power must be met with resistance and possibly new competitors. Ticketmaster must begin to value artists’ and fans’ experiences, rather than solely valuing profit.