Ticket pricing in the concert and festival industry is getting better – but more work is needed to ensure costs are fair to fans, musicians, promoters and venues alike, a panel of ticketers said at the 2017 Billboard Touring Conference & Awards.

“It’s taking time,” said Patrick Ryan, co-founder of Eventellect. “You have to look at the on sale process. There are sometimes big prices that can be smoothed out after the on sale.”

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The two-day Billboard conference, held in Los Angeles this year, focuses on the $25 billion-per-year worldwide touring business. Ryan was part of a “Ticketing in Focus: How Verified Fan, Bot Bans and Open APIs are Changing the Commerce of Music” panel that included Biasha Mitchell, Eventbrite’s director of  Music Festival Strategy; Maura Gibson, Front Gate Tickets’ president; David Marcus, Ticketmaster’s executive vp and head of music; and Jeff Poirier, StubHub’s general manager of music, theater and performing arts for North America.

Pricing “is as important as the venue you play,” moderator Michele Bernstein of WME said. “Pricing is as a much marketing as marketing itself.”

Ryan suggested that secondary ticket sellers like StubHub – which have been accused of gouging fans and having a negative impact on the concert industry – can help improve ticket pricing.

“If you’re trying to maximize sales, though, you can confuse primary operators,” he said. “It’s more about looking at individual seats.”

Marcus interjected: “I don’t understand how StubHub can help with that process.”

StubHub tracks fan data to evaulate pricing and study consumer habits, which can benefit the industry as a whole and ultimately help keep fees down, Poirier said.

“We know what the audience is willing to pay,” he said. “It’s interesting that artists and promoters are reaching out to us to get pricing. If they are coming to us, they clearly view us as a viable challenge.”

Marcus said Ticketmaster would accept data “all day long. Fundamentally, as an industry, we need to think about what are our financial goals? What is the building worth? What distances am I going to go to sell?”

He touted the success of the company’s Verified Fan program, which reportedly reduces the opportunity for resale on secondary markets by over 90 percent.

“I want to sell tickets below market for people who are willing to buy them,” Marcus said. “For me, that’s Verified Fan. If someone is willing to invest in your tour early on, you reward them.”

Ticket bots are always an issue, the panel agreed, but technology can be used to improve the process instead of hinder it.

“We use real time servicing during a purchase to prevent commercial resellers, including bots,” Mitchell said.  “What we are doing is identifying these folks the first time they hit our system.”

Said Gibson: “What we do to let the good guys in can directly affect your bottom line.”

Maggie O'Brien

Maggie O'Brien

Maggie O'Brien has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She's covered everything from from crime to politics to fitness. Writing about bands and shows takes her back to the days of going to punk rock shows in the Midwest.
Maggie O'Brien

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