The Cure’s Robert Smith Calls Dynamic Ticket Pricing ‘Bit of a Scam’
Ticketmaster’s approach to selling some tickets at a much higher cost than standard ones came under the spotlight when Bruce Springsteen fans objected to his use of the policy for his current tour. While it was argued that those who didn’t want to pay more were entitled to refuse to do so, Ticketmaster said that, since scalpers would resell tickets with similar price boosts, it was better the additional profits went to artists.
In a series of tweets, Smith said the Cure chose to use a “verified fan” approach to sales, meaning each ticket was associated with a registered buyer, making it more difficult for resellers to buy them in the first place.
“We were convinced that Ticketmaster’s … ideas could help us fight the scalpers,” he wrote. “We didn’t agree to the ‘dynamic pricing’/‘price surging’/‘platinum ticket’ thing, because it is itself a bit of a scam? A separate conversation!” He said the band was told that the registration system was used with more than 400 sales programs to reduce scalping by as much as 80%, with fewer than 5% of total tickets surfacing in the secondary market – a market he said was operated with marketing budgets in the tens of millions.
“We know it is a far from perfect system,” Smith said of the Cure’s approach. “But the reality is that if there aren’t enough tickets on sale, a number of fans are going to miss out whatever system we use. At least this one tries to get tickets into the hands of fans at a fair price.”
Meanwhile, Ticketmaster and Live Nation boss Michael Rapino admitted the corporations needed to be more clear about how and why fees are added to ticket prices.
He told investors (via Billboard), “We’ve got to now go out and do a much better job so policymakers and consumers understand how the business operates. We’ve historically not had a big incentive to shout out loud that venues are charging high service fees or artist costs are expensive. But I think now [that] education is paramount.”