Live Nation and StubHub Behind Newly Launched Anti-Scalping Groups, According to Report
Published Jul 21, 2011Ticket scalpers aren't exactly the most beloved contingent of the live music industry, and many us have been burned by opportunists who buy up concert tickets and resell them for an inflated price. It made perfect sense, then, when two opposing non-profit organizations recently launched: the Fans First Coalition, which aims to combat scalpers who resell tickets at inflated prices, and the similarly named the Fan Freedom Project, which battles for the rights of consumers to resell tickets.
Well, it turns out that all is not as it appears with these two groups. Although the non-profits present themselves as grassroots organizations looking out for fan interest, a new report from the New York Times suggests that they're actually corporate fronts.
Live Nation (owner of Ticketmaster) is the primary financier behind the Fans First Coalition. This makes sense, as Live Nation is trying to stop scalpers from marking up the price of its product. Although Live Nation is not officially a member of the Fans First Coalition's board, the majority of the artists who support the cause (such R.E.M., John Mayer and Dixie Chicks) are managed by Live Nation. (It's worth noting that the Fans First Coalition doesn't denounce ticket reselling outright.)
As for the Fan Freedom Project, it is actually backed by the legal ticket-reselling website StubHub. The group believes that a ticket belongs to the buyer and can therefore be resold as desired. The organization's slogan is "we the fans believe we own the tickets we buy."
"This is a classic," Ellen Miller, executive director of lobbying watchdog Sunlight Foundation, told the newspaper. "The campaigns present them as ground-up activities, but they are really nothing more than fronts for particular interests."
So what has inspired these massive companies to start up non-profits as fronts for their interests? The real issue at stake is paperless ticketing. This means that when you buy a pass to an event, you don't receive a physical or even electronic ticket. Instead, you must show your credit card and/or ID at the door. This makes it more or less impossible to resell a ticket, and completely undermines StubHub's business model. While the the Fan Freedom Project is selfishly motivated, it does have a point: paperless tickets are harder to give as presents, and exchanging them through Ticketmaster's system can result in additional fees.
Whichever side you happen to agree with, it seems that neither the Fan Freedom Project or the Fans First Coalition is really about benefiting the fans.