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The annual guide to the global live entertainment ticketing business
Click the interactive map below to explore the top 40 global markets
The US has gone all-in on ticketing reform over the past year, sparked by president Joe Biden’s campaign against “junk fees” and a much publicised scramble for tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour in November 2022.
The spotlight has been on primary ticketing agents over the past year. Ticketmaster dominates the primary market in the US, controlling anywhere between 50-80% of the market as revealed during its January judicial review.
“Advocating for common-sense reforms – banning speculative ticketing, mandating all-in pricing, and enforcing laws to deter bot use – has never been more important.”
The US-based company, which also operates in over 30 markets worldwide, has been an advocate for reforming the industry alongside its parent company Live Nation, which launched its FAIR Ticketing Act this past March. “Advocating for common-sense reforms – banning speculative ticketing, mandating all-in pricing, and enforcing laws to deter bot use – has never been more important, as artists are actively losing their ability to control their tickets in states all over the country, which is hurting fans and helping scalpers,” says Marla Ostroff, managing director of Ticketmaster North America.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation have announced all-in pricing for its 200 venues and festivals, set to launch in September. While Ticketmaster has long advocated for this, the decision came just months after president Joe Biden called for the removal of “junk fees” in the ticketing industry during his annual State of the Union address.
Independent ticketing company DICE has had all-in pricing since its inception. “DICE has been fan-first from day one because we believe tickets should only ever be sold at a transparent, fair price and that they belong in the hands of real fans – not resellers,” says DICE president Russ Tannen.
“DICE has been fan-first from day one because we believe tickets should only ever be sold at a transparent, fair price and that they belong in the hands of real fans – not resellers.”
The fan-first app is launching Groups this year, its social networking tool poised to get like-minded fans and friends to go to gigs together, “creating higher turnouts to support artists and venues,” Tannen says.
Other competitors in the primary sector of the US include AEG Presents’ ticket arm AXS, SeatGeek, See Tickets, Universe, and Eventbrite, among a handful of other operations.
California-headquartered Eventbrite joined in on industry coalition Fix the Tix’s reform efforts, which include prohibiting price gouging, deceptive websites, and speculative sales.
Alongside this endeavour, it has launched an Ads tool to reach its online clientele better, generating 55m impressions on its listings to help partners sell more tickets.
Key operators are StubHub (owned by Viagogo in the US), TickPick, Vivid Seats, Lyte, TicketSwap, and even Ticketmaster and SeatGeek, both of which operate as primary and secondary sellers.
NYC-based TickPick also features all-in pricing, though sellers get to set their prices on the online platform. CEO Brett Goldberg says resale platforms, while being at odds with primary sellers, have become intrinsic to the US ticketing industry.
“You’ve got primary and secondary and both sides want different things. For us, the easiest thing that every consumer can agree on is getting all-in pricing,” Goldberg says.
“You’ve got primary and secondary and both sides want different things. For us, the easiest thing that every consumer can agree on is getting all-in pricing.”
New in-app features of the platform include Price Freeze and Flex, which allow users to lock in prices for potential future purchases and compare multiple performances from one artist, respectively. With the live industry reporting record demand, Goldberg says TickPick is on track to sell over 5m tickets this year.
There will continue to be a secondary sector in the US market, though regulations on speculative sales, bot activity, and scalping may impact its role.
International/domestic splits & genres
With the greater music industry flourishing, a multitude of genres are selling well. Venues report Latin and K-pop rising in popularity alongside the pop, rock, electronic, and hip-hop genres. As a hotbed for talent and touring, there’s a place for every genre across the diverse cultural landscape.
Distribution of sales
Digital sales, online queues, and mobile apps are the new standard in the US, though bot activity and ticket scalping are byproducts of the online transition.
When questioned by Congress in January, Live Nation president Joe Berchtold blamed the Eras Tour presale chaos on a cyberattack by ticket scalpers. Mass purchases by bots in online marketplaces were outlawed in the 2016 Better Online Ticketing Sales (BOTS) Act though continues to be an issue today, with companies hoping to strengthen the BOTS Act.
DICE is using its platform to lock its animated tickets to its users’ smartphones and leave them inactivated until 48 hours before the event, making the resell process complicated.
“With no physical ticket to resell, our venue partners have repeatedly remarked on how resellers have disappeared from their premises.”
“With no physical ticket to resell, our venue partners have repeatedly remarked on how resellers have disappeared from their premises,” says DICE’s Tannen.
Ticketmaster uses SafeTix, an encrypted system that benefits both users and event organisers by keeping tickets safe and secure. The company also recently reformatted its Verified Fan programme for a new Advanced Registration strategy to get more fans into presales.
Fans are increasingly sourcing live music through online channels, with 80% of the Gen Z fanbase citing social media as the best place to find events, according to Eventbrite senior manager Brad McIntyre.
Value of market
There is no definitive amount to report, though McIntyre says 81% of live music fans plan to spend more on live music this year than last, with demand for festivals and local events rising.
The US ticketing market is built on a system of free- market exclusivity. Its players are assembled in a pyramid, with local venues and regional platforms serving as the base for the few far-reaching firms. Though operating in the same space, artists and agencies impact the ability of venues and ticketing companies to hold that exclusivity on the ticket. But exclusivity isn’t necessarily a negative as it can “be helpful to fans” by limiting the choice and confusion of an array of companies, says DICE’s Tannen.
“In the European markets, there are multiple ticketing companies selling their allotment to shows, but it makes it harder for fans to figure out which companies they can trust and which are fake.”
“In the European markets, there are multiple ticketing companies selling their allotment to shows, but it makes it harder for fans to figure out which companies they can trust and which are fake. Exclusivity keeps things straightforward and, with companies like DICE, helps keep tickets off the secondary market,” Tannen says.
Dynamic pricing spikes and the commodification of tickets have caused primary and secondary prices to surge, with a singular ticket for Swift’s MetLife Stadium performance reaching $92,150. Following Live Nation’s congressional hearing and Biden’s dismissal of industry fees, federal- and state-level reforms began to take shape.
Senators raised the Junk Fee Prevention Act, targeting excessive fees on online ticket buying, and congressmen reintroduced the Boss and Swift Act (2009) to protect buyers from hidden fees and speculative sales. Six states have specified anti-scalping laws, with additional bills on exclusivity popping up in California and another on all-in pricing in Massachusetts. As things differ from state to state, the lack of federal mandates can impact how companies conduct business.
“Even in states that require all-in pricing, every platform interprets the law differently and some outright ignore them,” says Ticketmaster’s Ostroff. “Fans deserve better, and we feel there needs to be a federal mandate to provide consistency that delivers the greatest fan benefit of true comparative shopping.”
The future of the US ticketing industry is in limbo, as state, federal, and company-led reforms take hold, but the American market will continue to lead the evolution of the worldwide ticket industry.
Taxes & charges
Taxes are determined on a state-by-state basis.