Live Nation Highway Robbery, DMB/Fenway Style

Among the most hated companies around is Ticket Master, known for shoddy service and outrageous fees. With its now widely-known merger plans with Live Nation, concert goers have grown concerned of a monopoly on the concert ticket market. With less competition, companies have less incentive to keep fees low, having no one to compete with but themselves.

Which brings me to today. In the mail I received my Dave Matthews Band tickets for Fenway Park, for a concert in May. While I am not normally a huge concert goer, it is my first DMB concert since high school in Florida, so I felt I couldn’t pass it up. Mostly because of the venue, what better way than to see a concert in one of the country’s oldest ball parks. Tickets went on sale a month or so ago, I debated buying them, with the $75 ticket price. But what the hell, how often do you see a concert in Fenway Park?

Looking at the receipt now, I realize, holy shit, talk about a racket.

Two tickets: $150.00

Handling Fees: $33.80

Total: $183.80

Yes, you saw that right, a whopping 18.3% fee just for handling. Someone in this industry, please explain to me what ‘handling’ in this case means. Do you have people go on a map and find my seats by hand? Are you physically breaking apart the tickets from large sheets and compiling them together in a Level 4 Bio-toxin lab that requires special levels of cleanliness? Do my seats come with a sommelier at the ball park?

Let me try and paint this picture from an IT perspective. What I consider handling, are the back-room costs associated with assigning me a seat, processing the credit card charge, printing the tickets, and mailing them. During ticket purchase, I picked ‘best available’ for seat selection. About 45 seconds later, the next page pops up, offering me a choice of seats in a drop down box. Too bad all the drop down options were the same. Awesome. I hit continue.

Enter in my American Express number (it was an Amex presale), billing information, and hit confirm. About a minute later a confirmation page comes up, email drops in my Inbox and I’m set. At the moment I was more overjoyed to really calculate the percentage of fees in my head. A process that took maybe two minutes, barring the processing servers being overloaded, and you guys take almost $34 of my money.

Now I realize why I am a much bigger fan of the $18 law seats at Tanglewood in the Summer time, when James Taylor and other musical luminaries grace the outdoor stage. I can bring in lounge chairs, a cooler stocked with food, beer, wine, and a frisbee. I understand the backlash against companies like Live Nation. While I am not a frequent concert goer, I now will make a better effort to make sure I fully swallow the fact that almost 20% of my total is going towards a fee I don’t understand.