Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino recently shared his thoughts on the recent controversy that sparked surrounding sales for The Cure North American tour. He noting that artists “don’t have” to “underprice” themselves the way that Robert Smith chose to do.
The Cure had refused Ticketmaster’s offer for “platinum” and “dynamically priced” tickets for their first touring visit to North America in seven years, and, through their partnership with the ticket-selling platform, canceled “transferable” tickets to prevent scalping.
The band had promised to keep tickets at an “affordable” range. However, some fans complained that transfer fees in some cases surpassed the price of the tickets themselves, leading to Smith saying he was “sickened” by the pricing practice and persuading Ticketmaster to introduce a $5-10 refund for all ticket holders. Similarly, the 7.000 or so tickets that ended up in scalpers’ hands despite all the precautions were canceled by The Cure.
Michael Rapion comments on the controversy
“We were proud of Ticketmaster’s side. We did a ton of work with Robert, making sure [tickets] were non-transferable, that it would be a face value [ticket] exchange and verified, doing all we could to put all the roadblocks to deliver his ticket prices to the fans.
“There was a screenshot of a venue, which wasn’t even a Live Nation venue… that showed a ticket service fee of $20 on $20. It doesn’t matter whether we justify the service fee is a good idea or not, we have an industry where we have to build some credibly back.
“I couldn’t defend in any version that we were going to add a $20 service fee to a $20 ticket. We made a decision that we would spend some money, give back the $10, and get it to a reasonable place for those fans.”
Speaking about the partially refunding the service fees, Rapino said:
“It was a fast decision, we thought it was worth the million dollars or so to send the right message.”
He was further asked if it is “reasonable to expect to see The Cure for $20 in an arena,” as per Robert Smith’s wishes and Rapino answered:
“No. I think the pricing of concerts in general — there’s this fine line between, yes, we want it accessible, and it’s a fine art and there’s a price to it.”
Commenting on the high-priced platinum tickets for massive stars like Harry Styles, Adele, Beyoncé, and Bruce Springsteen, the Live Nation CEO claimed that many people were willing to eat the price because they view “concerts as a really special moment in their Kotak life”, adding:
“It’s a magic moment, maybe twice a year — way cheaper than Disneyland, or the Super Bowl, or the NFL or the NBA playoffs, or an expensive night out. So it’s really cheap overall considering.
“This is a great, great product that people will buy, as they’re gonna buy the Gucci bag. They’re gonna buy moments in life where they will step up, and spoil themselves — the big screen TV and or whatever it may be.”
“This is a business where we can charge a bit more. I’m not saying excessively, but it’s a great two-hour performance of a lifetime, that happens once every three, four years in that market.
“You don’t have to underprice yourself — low to middle income [people] will make their way to that arena for that special night.”