Deep-seated issues: How does Ticketmaster set its prices?

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FILE – In this May 11, 2009, file photo, Ticketmaster tickets and gift cards are shown at a box office in San Jose, Calif. On Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, a federal judge in New York signed off on a deal that will allow Ticketmaster to pay a $10 million fine to escape prosecution over criminal charges accusing the company of hacking into the computer system of a startup rival. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

(NewsNation) — Maybe you thought your Metallica World Tour tickets would cost $90 as advertised on Ticketmaster. But they didn’t. They cost $130.

That’s a concept with which people who buy through Ticketmaster — the world’s largest ticket vendor — are likely familiar: The value of the ticket is just part of the overall cost.

Total prices often come with venue fees and convenience charges. That’s without considering Ticketmaster’s new demand-based pricing system, which has been the subject of recent criticism.

The face value of a standard ticket is set by the venue, team or event promoter, according to the seller’s website. However, Ticketmaster also uses “dynamic pricing,” which ultimately means they can change the price of the ticket based on demand.

Buyers might also be asked to pay a service or convenience charge for each ticket plus a separate “order-processing fee” added to the total sale. On its website, Ticketmaster says these fees cover “the substantial costs of providing the most convenient and safest ways to buy tickets.”

On top of that, the event host can choose to add what’s called a facility charge to essentially help cover the venue’s operating costs.

That’s all applied before city, state and local taxes are also added to the face value of the ticket or listed as a separate charge. In any case, those costs will vary depending on where the event takes place.

That’s how a $90 ticket could cost an additional $40 — enough to buy a meal or have drinks at a local bar after the show. But it’s a small change compared to what Taylor Swift fans experienced when they clamored for tickets to the pop star’s The Eras Tour.

A presale of 1.5 million tickets was supposed to be available only to people who had received a specific code. Ticketmaster, however, said bots and others without a code logged on anyway, allowing tickets to be resold at much higher costs.

The original price range for tickets to The Eras Tour was $49 to $499, Axios reported.

As of Nov. 18, the average price of an Eras ticket on the secondary market was $2,424, according to a CBS report at the time.

Ticketmaster canceled the general public sale for the Swift tour, saying the demand broke records and parts of its website.

The company now is shoring up its technology to avoid a similar situation in the future, according to a statement on the Ticketmaster website.

The Taylor Swift debacle made headlines, but it’s one part of an emerging trend of increasing concert ticket prices over the years.

The average ticket price across all of North America jumped more than 17% between 2019 and 2022, according to Pollstar, which examined the top 100 tours for each year.

Several of those tours were planned before the cost of touring itself spiked. Pollstar said those costs were passed on to fans through increased ticket prices. That is, in part, a result of inflation, pandemic pressure and venue safety policies, according to one CBC report.

Those high costs were at the center of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday to discuss “how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industries harms customers and artists alike.”

Several senators questioned the ticket sellers’ commitment to customers, and suggested Ticketmaster and Live Nation part ways to restore competition within the industry.

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