As problems reemerge for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler comedy tour ticket sales, former CEO Irving Azoff is among the critics poised to weigh in on the industry’s problems
Become a member to read more.
Ticketmaster could soon face heat from inside the industry as a high-powered crew assembles to discuss the ticketing industry’s problems. That’s on top of the pressure the company and its parent, Live Nation, is already facing from Congress, the White House, musicians and fans over high ticket prices and few competitive options for selling big event tickets.
Irving Azoff, Ticketmaster’s former CEO, is moderating a panel discussion Wednesday at the Pollstar Live conference with musician Garth Brooks, Madison Square Garden Entertainment CEO James Dolan and Makan Delrahim, a former assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s antitrust division. The panel will discuss ticketing issues of transparency, an out-of-control secondary market, accessibility and affordability for fans.
It’s likely to be a more polite event than recent Congressional hearings over ticket pricing and the nonstop roasting Ticketmaster has gotten on social media over system failure.
Following last November’s Taylor Swift ticket snafu, ticket-industry executives from Live Nation and other companies got hauled in front of Congress in January, facing off with Senators quoting Swift lyrics. For a moment this month, it appeared Ticketmaster was on the road to redemption with its watchdogs in Congress. Sales for Beyoncé tour tickets were going smoothly, offering a glimmer of hope for its parent company, Live Nation, as the Justice Department continued to mull an antitrust lawsuit. It was a chance for the ticketing giant to prove it could handle the demand.
But then Tina Fey and Amy Poehler entered the mix, announcing their comedy worldwide tour. Tickets went on sale Feb. 13. Within hours fans were complaining online.
“Because @Ticketmaster can’t get their s— together, people are already selling their tickets to the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler tour on StubHub, less than 20 minutes after the presale started. And that’s not even mentioning the additional fees. This is ridiculous,” fan Molly Hart wrote on Twitter.
Congressional leaders warned the ticketing conglomerate that they were under the microscope as the Justice Department continued to mull the possibility of taking legal action to break up the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger with an antitrust lawsuit.
Days after the warning, the company lawyered up, reenlisting the help of veteran antitrust lawyer Don Wall, who recently retired from law firm Latham & Watkins. He joined Live Nation as executive vice president for corporate and regulatory affairs this month. A former chair of Latham’s antitrust practice, Wall was previously a key Live Nation advisor for more than 12 years. Wall did not respond to TheWrap’s requests for comment.
Since 2010, when the Justice Department under President Barack Obama approved the merger of events promoter Live Nation with ticket sales company Ticketmaster Entertainment, the conglomerate spent more than $6 million on Washington lobbyists and consultants.
Compared to other entertainment-based companies, though, Live Nation’s lobbying effort seemed small, which might explain the meager results it’s achieved in Washington. Comcast spent $14.9 million in 2022 alone on lobbying, the Internet & Television Association spent $13.7 million, and the National Association of Broadcasters spent $11 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.
During his State of the Union Address Feb. 7, Biden called for limits to be placed on the number of fees that can be charged for live entertainment tickets. “I know how unfair it feels when a company overcharges you and gets away with it,” Biden said. “Not anymore.”
Azoff could be poised to offer explanations of those fees. During his tenure at the company, he attempted to simplify Ticketmaster’s fee structure. He stepped down as Live Nation chairman in 2012, telling TheWrap editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman that “life at a public company ain’t for me,” and returned to the talent management business.
The panel takes place at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles as part of the 34th annual Pollstar Live conference.