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A secret recording obtained by Billboard has revealed how a Metallica insider touted the band's own tickets, bypassing the primary market altogether
By IQ on 22 Jul 2019
Thousands of tickets for Metallica’s ongoing WorldWired world tour were placed on the secondary market before fans were given the opportunity to buy them at face value, according to an article published in Billboard late Friday (19 July).
In what Billboard describes as a “rare acknowledgment of an industry tactic little known to the public”, a Live Nation spokesperson confirms that, on occasion, the company has operated a “unique distribution strategy” that bypasses the primary market altogether for select high-value tickets.
The revelations came to light in a recording of phone call between Bob Roux, Live Nation’s president of US concerts, and Vaughn Millette, a wealth adviser-turned-concert promoter who had been tasked by an associate of Metallica, Tony DiCioccio, with selling 88,000 WorldWired tour tickets directly on resale sites such as StubHub.
In the 11-minute call – a recording of which was made surreptitiously (but legally) by Millette, and later obtained by Billboard – Roux told Millette that “Ticketmaster will not do it” (sell the tickets on the secondary market) and suggested he sell them another way, such as in a “singular account” of the type used for fan club or sponsor allocation. Roux warned, however, that “there may be some eyebrows that get raised” when thousands of tickets are placed in a single such account.
Millette – who Billboard notes is “building his own promotion business” and is ” now competing with Live Nation for clients” – sent the recording to Live Nation executives in June.
In a statement, Live Nation acknowledges the unorthodox methods used on the Metallica tour but says it only rarely places tickets directly on resale sites when requested by artists.
“Our standard practice is to use Ticketmaster’s Platinum, VIP and other tools to help tours price closer to true market value”
“Live Nation does not have a practice of placing tickets on the secondary market. Our standard practice is to use Ticketmaster’s Platinum, VIP and other tools to help tours price closer to true market value,” the statement reads. “In this situation, a consultant for the band opted to use the secondary market to try to capture that value.
“In 2016, Metallica performed a single show in Minneapolis at which more than 10,000 tickets were transacted on the secondary market without the band’s participation. After seeing the volume of secondary transactions for that show and the benefit being captured by brokers, the independent consultant worked with Live Nation on a unique distribution strategy that used the secondary market as a sales distribution channel for select high-end tickets.”
While Live Nation/Ticketmaster no longer operates any above-face-value ticket resale sites in Europe, the company’s CEO, Michael Rapino, has been vocal in his view that the secondary market exists primarily because bands under-price their shows. At the 28th International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in March 2016, Rapino told ILMC MD Greg Parmley that artists need to be braver in how they price the house, stating that on one hand acts are still scared to charge high sums for front-row seats and less for seats at the back, and on the other upset that secondary ticketing companies are profiting from it.
A source familiar with the Metallica deal tells Billboard the parties agreed that Metallica would get 40% of the resale revenue, Live Nation 40%, DiCioccio 12% and Millette 8%, though another source said Live Nation’s share was lower.
While Live Nation emphasises that it “does not distribute tickets on any platform without an artist’s explicit approval”, Metallica representatives told Billboard in June that the band were not aware of a deal between Millette, DiCioccio and Live Nation.
A Live Nation spokesperson tells IQ the occasional use of resale sites for ticket distribution is limited to North America, and does not extend to shows in Europe and further afield.
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