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Concertgoers vs Ticketmaster

by Erika Gimenes

It was only a couple months ago that my best friend and I were making plans to attend the Backstreet Boys show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

Like many others, we are fan-club members, and the day tickets went onsite, we set timers on our phones, sat on two different computers, and hit refresh on that dreaded Ticketmaster page as soon as tickets were on sale. 

You should see the look of excitement when we were finally not only able to get tickets to this show, but PIT tickets. With a venue that has a seating capacity of 17,500 seats, you can only imagine how thrilled we were when we got exclusive tickets that would get us that much closer to our beloved boys.

Hollywood Bowl Pool Circle Seating are the closest seats to the stage. It was the first section of the Hollywood Bowl. It typically uses rows of standard boxes or folding chairs and is as close as you can get to the stage; there are three rows in the section.

Did you know that section used to be an actual pool? Yep. Those seats where all the fancy people sit right at the front literally used to be full of water separating performers from the audience, hence the name of the section. All 100,000 gallons were drained in 1972.

Two months later, our excitement is now on hold, along with thousands of fans who were anxiously waiting to see the second leg of the DNA World Tour. Now we just have no idea when this show will ever happen.

Just last March, when many concert goers started getting their shows cancelled or postponed, they headed over to Ticketmaster to investigate their refund policy.

To their surprise, they found out that the ticket purchasing company would only refund people their money if their shows were cancelled. This left many fans who were not able to attend new postponed dates with empty pockets and loss of hundreds and thousands of dollars.

This is just not right. 

Over Twitter, fans voiced their dismay at Ticketmaster, saying they were out for their money and pocketing money from people. Money, that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is scarce as many people are out of a job. 

Enter Hashtag: #ticketmasterisoverparty

“Imagine taking advantage of people during a pandemic and holding their money hostage. I hope your a** gets sued. The return policy at the time of ticket purchase needs to be guaranteed. Give people their money back,” this user said on Twitter. 

 

Another epic response “Good news fans! For that postponed stadium tour that will now happen in 2022 when you’re out of town, you’re all set! ™ will simply hold your money while you struggle to find a job in the ensuring economy downturn! You’re all set,” another user said. 

Even on my own Twitter account, I posted “You are gaining a LOT of enemies right now, Ticketmaster, do the right thing.”

 

These fans are not wrong. Now the hashtag is trending along with #ticketmasterrefund almost overnight. 

As I check the status of my tickets on the Ticketmaster site on a daily basis, my concerts are still not cancelled or rescheduled, but I will tell you this. If they postpone the tour to a date that I can no longer attend, I sure could use my $400/ticket back. Like. Right now. That $400 can feed my family for 4 for a straight week. 

On April 17th, Jared Smith, President of Ticketmaster, said in a statement that “neither our clients, nor Ticketmaster, intend to withhold refunds on postponed shows. As of today, both Live Nation Entertainment and AEG Live, two of our largest event organizers, have announced they will begin to provide refunds, on a rolling basis, for all events impacted by COVID-19.” 

Fans now have to log into their Ticketmaster accounts and check the status of their show. If it’s cancelled, Ticketmaster would automatically refund you within 30 days.

If it’s postponed, you can either keep the tickets for the new date, or you have up to 30 days to ask for a refund. This however, only if the promoter is offering refunds as an alternative.

In addition, you can also re-sell your tickets through Ticketmaster and they will generously remove the seller fees – how thoughtful (insert epic eye roll)

With hundreds of thousands of fans that will soon be trying to sell their tickets, you can imagine how much harder it will be for them to sell their tickets.

What about the tickets that the venue will be selling, and the ones that are still left on the ticketing platform. Why make it even harder on fans to get their money back?

Many artists have announced that they will be postponing or cancelling tickets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Taylor Swift and Bon Jovi are stellar examples of artists that flat out decided to cancel their tour in order to help out their fans that are in dire need of money right now. 

“Due to the ongoing global pandemic, it is no longer feasible for Bon Jovi to tour this summer. Given these difficult times, we have made the decision to cancel the tour entirely,” the band shared in a statement. This will enable ticket holders to get refunds to help pay their bills or buy groceries. These are trying times. You’ve always been there for us and we’ll always be there for you. We look forward to seeing everyone again on tour when we can all safely be together. We will continue to send out news and updates on Bon Jovi touring in the weeks and months to come.”

Perhaps if many other artists followed suit, music fans would feel less anxious about when they would see money that could eventually help their families in dire times. 

Circling back to the Backstreet Boys, I know they will do the right thing and promoters will soon reschedule new dates for the tour. It’s not if, but when at this time. 

As a booking agent that has booked hundreds and thousands of shows in my career, I can assure you. Postponing, rescheduling or cancelling a show is not only quite complicated, but also very expensive.

When a show is rescheduled, everyone scrambles to find a different day that works for the artist and the venue. The venue will hold the deposit and ticket sales revenue for a new date. 

If cancelled, the venue generally only charges the promoter the out-of-pocket costs they spent on the show. For rescheduled dates, the promoter will still have to pay for the venue, but maybe not the staffing fee for all the workers. 

Let’s not forget the promoter also covers insurance costs in their contract. The promoter and artists/managers work on a financial arrangement if the shows get rescheduled. Artists may get a pay-cut from their original offer, as the promoter will use some of the costs spent on the first show to cover expenses on the new date. 

Shows for a new date may no longer sell out, or fans may ask for a refund on their ticket if they no longer want to attend, which is the situation many of us are currently facing. 

I have accepted the fact that my show in October will likely not happen, and I am OK with that. Better safe than sorry. And when it does happen, that night will be larger than life. 

 

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