AS BEYONCÉ FANS anxiously waited online looking to secure tickets to Queen Bey’s upcoming Renaissance tour, the high price of ticket fees is once again a groan-inducing discussion among ticket-buyers as they have no choice but to swallow the hefty added costs if they want to see her show.
Some customers who bought VIP packages for the tour — already among the priciest and highest-quality experiences at the venue — saw service fees as high as $550 (about a 15% service fee) atop the $3,757 the customer already spent on their seat. The most expensive tickets, of course, will also catch the most eye-popping fees. Among the more affordable seats, one customer’s screenshot detailed a $43.90 service fee on a $162 ticket (about a 27 percent fee), plus another $8 for the facility charge.
An initial look at fees suggests the Renaissance Tour isn’t much worse than the usual on-sale for a tour of this size, with some of the prices fans have shared online reflecting somewhere between 15 to the upper 20-percents for fees on Ticketmaster. Rather, it’s just the latest in the most common complaint customers have as pay even more at checkout for what may have already been a major purchase.
Ticketing fees aren’t a uniquely Ticketmaster issue, and the fees for some tickets listed on resale platforms like StubHub and VividSeats have come close to 30 percent. But Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment have faced increased scrutiny from federal regulators over allegations that the company functions as a live music monopoly.
Ticketmaster has repeatedly refuted allegations that it squashes competition. Regarding the fees in particular, Live Nation Entertainment president and CFO Joe Berchtold told regulators during a Senate judiciary hearing on the live music business last month that venues typically set the fees, and that Ticketmaster’s portion of service fees has fallen.
The fees have been a significant part of discussion from regulators and advocates looking to make the ticketing industry more fair and transparent for fans. During the Senate judiciary panel, several senators, including Amy Klobuchar, probed witnesses about the fees and what it would take to get them handled. Both Klobuchar and congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have told Rolling Stone that the fees are gouging fans, and both questioned how Live Nation’s dominance in the industry have impacted fee costs.
The issue has even made its way to the White House. President Joe Biden has repeatedly called for a crackdown on “junk fees” across industries including the live music business; during his State of the Union this week, he pushed for the “Junk Fee Prevention Act,” which the Biden Administration first proposed last week. The Biden Administration has called for Congress to “reduce fees through legislation,” and to prohibit “excessive fees” and force ticket platforms to disclose when they’ve used “holdbacks” for shows to limit ticket supply. Biden also called for a widespread adoption of all-in ticket prices, which prevents ticketers from hiding fees until the end of a purchase. Several high-profile ticket services have championed that latter policy, noting that all-in ticketing could only work across the industry if all companies are mandated to practice it.
The Break Up Ticketmaster Coalition, which has been active for months calling for regulators to crack down on Live Nation and Ticketmaster (and in separate the two companies), celebrated Biden’s push this week as well.
“Fans, artists, competitors, and policymakers sounding the alarm about the Live Nation-Ticketmaster monopoly’s abuses — including charging inexplicable, sky high fees — has warranted attention from the Biden administration,” the coalition said in a statement. “It’s time legislators and regulators bring transparency and accountability to the live events ticketing industry by curbing the use of these junk fees once and for all, and breaking up this monopoly to bring more competition to the live events industry.”