So, I have had a Ticketmaster boycott in effect for about 4 years now, I think. Admittedly, there have been a couple of times where I have caved in, but I think I've succeeded, personally, in that time. I don't attend concerts where I need to purchase tickets through Ticketmaster, meaning I either don't go, or find another local show where I can avoid the company.
I was reminded today why I started doing this in the first place. Looking up ticket prices for the upcoming Sage Francis shows, I discovered they were $18. That's a bit more than the average I normally pay for concerts, but it's a more popular group at a larger venue, and that's to be expected. I have no problem with that. It should be a good show, he's playing with a live band, there are several acts, and that simply requires more money all around. Sadly, both local shows are at Ticketmaster venues. Just to see what the damage would be, I clicked through the Ticketmaster site. In addition to the $18 ticket, there would be a $2 venue fee, and a $7.95 "convenience" fee. I am now spending $28 on an $18 show. The Glass house show "only" had a $1+$5.50 charge. You'd think a socially conscious gent like Sage "Fuck Clear Channel" Francis would do his best to avoid working with a company which effectively has a monopoly on the live music industry and can basically charge whatever it'd like for no discernible purpose (venues don't need to use them. More on that in a bit). I mean, he helped found Knowmore.org, the "People's corporation watch project". Perhaps it's a testament to Ticketmaster's pervasiveness that you simply can't tour in larger venues without working with them. Hell, knowmore.org's article on Clear Channel contains the following paragraph:
The experience of going to a concert has gotten more expensive, too. In 1999, the average concert ticket cost $36.56; four years later, the price skyrocketed to $50.35, an increase of thirty-eight percent. And that's only part of the total. Clear Channel's extra fees have outpaced even ticket prices. When Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard testified in Congress against Ticketmaster in 1994, the battle centered on a $3.50 service charge. Today, Clear Channel regularly charges more than twice that. For the May 27th Cypress Hill show at Detroit's 1,400-seat Clutch Cargo club, tickets cost $30, but there's also a $7.20 "convenience charge" and a 75-cent facility fee.
Sage Francis has never even received mainstream radio play. I would hate to imagine what they charge for mainstream acts. Wait....let's see. OK. Justin Timberlake, at the Staples Center, has a $15.05 convenience fee on a ticket that is already over $90. Amazing. In 10 years, Ticketmaster has gone from charging $3.50 to $15.05. A 330% increase, if I'm not mistaken, for the EXACT SAME service they've always provided (I'd imagine Pearl Jam in 1994 to be roughly comparable to Justin Timberlake today, fame-wise, agreed?). I understand things get more expensive over time, but if you'd like to play devil's advocate and explain what possible increased expenses they've had in the last ten years to warrant that increase, I'd love to hear it.
I know it's possible to avoid using them. I've only broken the boycott two or three times in four years, and I see a greater amount of concerts than the average citizen. Granted, I go in for smaller bands which makes it easier, but it still should be possible. The Troubadour has a fax-in ticket service IN ADDITION to the Ticketmaster website which avoids the massive charges. Other venues use services like "Ticketweb", who have charges that are usually less than half of what Ticketmaster charges. They provide the identical service, but are somehow able to cut the charges IN HALF.
Though, in the end, I have to acknowledge that it's a silly battle that I will not win. I don't suspect I can get enough people to join the boycott to make any discernible difference. I'll ask you to help, though. If you have a choice, go to the show that doesn't use Ticketmaster. Vote with your dollar, help out companies which challenge the monopoly.