‘Fans First’ Live-Event Ticketing Reform Bill Introduced By US Senators 

Six US Senators have introduced a new “Fans First Act” to address the multiple discrepancies in ticketing sales across the country. The live event ticketing system in the US is saturated with fake or overpriced tickets from resellers, making it nearly impossible for fans to be able to afford to go see their favorite live events. 

The bipartisan bill was brought to Congress by three Republicans and three Democrats; John Cornyn of Texas, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Peter Welch of Vermont, and Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico. 

This is the newest move from Congress to battle “high and exploitative” ticket pricing for things like concerts and other live events, according to reports

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The issues with online ticketing sales have always been present, but issues reached a head in 2022 with tickets for Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen’s tour’s crashed Ticketmaster and subsequently crashed the website and made prices increase exponentially. 

At the time, several Taylor Swift fans sued Ticketmaster for “fraud, price-fixing, and antitrust violations” and alleged that “intentional deception” from the site allowing scalpers and resellers to buy a majority of the tickets to upsell them exponentially. 

For example, within the first few hours of Swift’s tour tickets going on sale secondary sellers were able to purchase a majority of them and price them at up to $22,000.

The suit alleged that “because no other venue can hold half as many people as the stadiums and venues working through Ticketmaster, Taylor Swift and other popular musicians have no choice but to work through Ticketmaster.” 

The US justice department started an antitrust investigation into Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, after this incident to look into whether or not they abused their power in its multibillion-dollar entertainment industry. 

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The Fans First Act is seeking to improve transparency with ticket pricing by requiring all live event ticket sellers to advertise the total price of a given ticket, including all fees and additional charges, so that when a fan goes to purchase a ticket, they understand the total price immediately and aren’t caught off guard by large fees and additional charges when they checkout. 

Fans will also have a clear understanding as to whether the ticket they’re purchasing is from a reseller or the original retailer. 

The Fans First Act will also work to strengthen the requirements of the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act which was signed into law in 2016. The BOTS Act worked to prohibit the use of bots to purchase large quantities of tickets for resellers to later upcharge. It also imposes civil penalties on resellers practicing illegal sales.

“The current ticketing system is riddled with problems and doesn’t serve the needs of fans, teams, artists or venues. This legislation would rebuild trust in the ticketing system by cracking down on bots and others who take advantage of consumers through price gouging and other predatory practices and increase price transparency for ticket purchasers,” said Congressman Cornyn.

Live Nation, the owner of Ticketmaster, also released a statement supporting the new bill: “We support the Fans First Act and welcome legislation that brings positive reform to live event ticketing. We believe it’s critical Congress acts to protect fans and artists from predatory resale practices, and have long supported a federal all-in pricing mandate, banning speculative ticketing and deceptive websites, as well as other measures. We look forward to our continued work with policymakers to advocate for even stronger reforms and enforcement.”

Theatre Stage

Broadway Experiencing Biggest Ticket Sales Slump In Three Years

Now that the holidays are officially over, a general sense of frugalness is in the air. As consumerism continues to increase every holiday season, so does the amount we try to save once the season is complete. Retailers, restaurants, and any other industry that would require the spending of money takes the hit every year, but depending on how much they made during the holidays themselves, they’re normally fine. 

An industry that’s taking the hit particularly hard this year is Broadway. Unless gifted tickets, people tend to stay away from purchasing big ticket items, literally, when they’re trying to save up. This year, it’s been reported that the industry is witnessing a 28% decrease in overall sales with the new year/holiday season. That’s still an estimated $31 million coming into the box office, however, it marks a three-year low for the industry as a whole. 

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Along with the loss of money, theater attendance is also down 6% compared to last year’s stats, however, Broadway had three more active shows this time last January. Over this past weekend (1/10/20), Broadway also closed down three shows but all of them were planned closings as the shows themselves had planned limited runs. 

“While 18 shows grossed over $1 million, most only made it over that threshold by a hair. Only five cracked $1.5 million – down from ten last week. Bucking the downward trend were traditional, non-musical plays, which performed markedly better than they did over the holiday frame. This pattern isn’t unusual – most holiday buyers spend on song-and-dance spectacles – but it was still good news to their producers,” (Forbes).

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2019 in general was the opposite of successful for Broadway; as an industry they grossed $67 million less than what they earned in 2018. The reasoning behind why Broadway takes such a massive financial hit when certain shows fail has a lot to do with real estate costs. As we all know, New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the US to live in, and for businesses, the cost of theater space is just as high. So when a show “flops” in terms of ticket sales and theater attendance, the industry itself loses the most money in real estate and production investments.

When shows continue to remain active into the new year, it typically means that the industry is making an influx of money back on the investment, so they remain open. This year, only four plays remain from 2019’s playbill;  Hadestown, Ain’t Too Proud, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Beetlejuice. 

When 2019 began, Broadway saw seven plays get carried into the new year, three of which are listed above and continue to sell. In total, the number of show closings within 2019 has caused the industry to lose about $100 million in investments and real estate costs. 

“Booking schedules define [a lot] of the [financial] landscape, and those are affected more by individual productions than market trends. This season, several big musical houses have remained empty, leaving big money on the table. That, and the fact that The Palace [a major Broadway Theater] is under renovation accounts for a whole percentage point of lost sales. However, every show is different, and comparing one season to the next is always tricky,” Brian Mahoney, Vice President of ticket sales for the Shubert Organization.