The talent agency behind the I Love the 90s tour is suing Ticketmaster in federal court, arguing the ticketer damaged the tour by only showing consumers high-priced premium tickets in some markets, which lead to terrible ticket sales and show cancellations.
Lawyers for the Universal Attractions Agency say they believe the pricing error was intentionally done to hurt the tour “with full knowledge of the damage their errors were causing.” The tour featured appearances by 90s stars like TLC, Naughty by Nature, Blackstreet, Mark McGrath, CC Music Factory and Biz Markie.
UAA filed the suit in the Southern District of New York, saying the I Love the 90s: The Party Continues tour suffered from promoted ticket prices that were extraordinarily high and, in some cases, false. That led to poor ticket sales and show cancellations at venues like Vina Robles in Pasa Robles, California. For their part, attorneys for Ticketmaster said the lawsuit “is a scapegoat for disappointing sales” and argue that the claims of false advertising are unfounded.
As part of its lawsuit, Universal Artist Attractions submitted a letter to the court from Nederlander Concerts CEO Alex Hodges, cancelling a July 16 show, arguing the show was “irreparably damaged by the new Ticketmaster presale and VIP problem with their new format.”
Hodges said the problems with the show began with the presale, where fans were only offered VIP prices between $250 to $375 per ticket and not the actual price of tickets for the show, which were $65, $75 or $150.
“The glitch or error on the part of Ticketmaster had to do with showing the fans only the high VIP ticket price and a failure to present the options of the ticket prices that were agreed upon by (UAA) and us when we bought the show,” Hodges said, noting that only seven VIP tickets were sold. According to the letter, this issue also affected 12 other shows on the tour.
“Ticketmaster’s new format was the cause of this foiled launch,” Hodges wrote, noting that fans abandoned the sales page in record numbers. “The ‘conversion’ of 1.3 percent is really bad, awful and is considerably less than last year’s 5.62 percent conversion rate. While we continued with the marketing campaign even after the immediate recognition that the problem was a disaster, it made no difference. There is no recovery for this show! The market is remote and small and this show is dead.”
Nederlander was forced to pay a $60,000 cancellation fee, absolving itself of $90,000 in artist fees and $25,000 in production. Hodges said total risk on the show was $220,000 with $15,000 spent on marketing.
In total, the show only sold 140 tickets and two meet and greets.
“We assure you that a re-launch would be expensive and also fruitless!” Hodges wrote. “We have no choice but to cancel and refund.”
In its defense, Ticketmaster said there were a number of markets that didn’t have any issues, including Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Lincoln, Nebraska. The company’s lawyers argue that it was UAA and its promoters that provided Ticketmaster with the ticket prices, and that the company was essentially using the information it was given by UAA.
“(Ticketmaster) has every incentive to sell as many tickets as possible,” attorney Sanda Crawshaw-Sparks wrote in an opposition filing. “The notion that (Ticketmaster) would purposely sabotage their own ticket sales defies common sense.”
UAA is suing Live Nation for false advertising and unfair competition and is seeking to be compensated for their losses resulting in poor ticket sales, as well as punitive damages. We reached out to Live Nation, Nederlander Concerts and UAA for comment, but did not receive an affirmative response.
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