Bill advocates for live ticketing reform
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has approved the Transparency in Charges for Key Events Ticketing (TICKET) Act, which marks the first step to more comprehensive reform to disclose the full cost of live event tickets up front. Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-WA) shared the news during a hearing today (Thurs, July 27th) in Washington, thanking Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) for their involvement with the bill that bans ticketing companies from assessing hidden fees to consumers purchasing live entertainment tickets in the U.S.
“I am pleased to join Ranking Member Cruz in the TICKET Act, which will bring transparency and fairness to event ticketing by requiring ticket sellers to disclose total ticket prices up front. I thank Senator Cruz for this legislation, and [this legislation] puts an end to hidden fees. The price will say exactly what you will pay. Some of my colleagues have raised concerns about speculative ticket pricing. I know our colleague, Senator Klobuchar, has been a leader and I want to work with her and others to ensure that in the future venues who have to fight against the scourge of people trying to pretend that they’re selling tickets to their venue that we actually stop that practice in the future.”
Fix the Tix, a coalition of 30 national organizations representing live entertainment, music, and performing arts constituencies, launched in May 2023 to better advocate for a better ticketing experience. The pro-artist and pro-consumer plan provides a clear roadmap for Congress to address urgent issues and restore trust in the ticketing experience for fans and artists, and applauds the Senate’s decision.
“The Fix the Tix coalition applauds Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-TX) for making ticketing issues a part of the Senate Commerce Committee’s agenda. We especially appreciate Chair Cantwell’s commitment to working with us to end the practice of speculative tickets,” they share.
“The Committee’s substitute amendment of the TICKET Act passed out of Committee advances all-in pricing, one tenet of the 10-point Fix the Tix plan for comprehensive ticketing reform.
“As the Senate Commerce Committee takes this first step toward comprehensive ticketing reform with the TICKET Act, the Fix the Tix Coalition looks forward to working with Senators Klobuchar, Cornyn, Blackburn, Lujan and the Senate Commerce Committee on a broad array of critical reforms in the Fix the Tix plan that must be enacted by Congress to protect consumers from predatory ticketing practices. These measures include a total ban on speculative tickets, which are fake tickets, and extensive efforts to prevent price gouging of consumers on the secondary ticketing market.
“The Fix the Tix coalition urges swift action by the Senate Commerce Committee on forthcoming comprehensive ticketing legislation that empowers local economic development, restores integrity to the ticketing marketplace, and safeguards consumers, artists, and venues.”
Fix the Tix is backed by a coalition of groups representing artists, actors, live entertainment workers, venues, festivals, performing arts, record labels, promoters, agents, managers, songwriters, consumers, and unions. Supporters include The Recording Academy, Universal Music Group, National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), EventBrite, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Artists Rights Alliance and others.
However, the Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights Coalition says a key element to protecting fans is missing from the passed bill.
“The live event ticketing market is a rigged game, riddled with deception and a lack of transparency at every turn. We are extremely disappointed that the Commerce Committee today bowed to pressure from industry opponents and missed an opportunity to reduce the risk that fans end up high and dry without tickets to events they had otherwise planned to attend. The TICKET Act, as amended, is a step in the right direction but a reminder of why vested interests continue to resist comprehensive reform. The live event ticketing system needs to be cured of deep flaws that result in consumers being abused before tickets go on sale, while they are for sale, and through the moment they are scanned for entry,” the coalition writes. “The TICKET Act as introduced would have assured transparency to two of the most opaque parts of ticket buying: the pricing of tickets, and the sale of tickets that sellers do not possess, but are offered to unknowing customers. We continue to support all-in pricing of live event tickets because today’s deceptive drip pricing is unfortunately the norm whether the tickets come from a venue, a team, Ticketmaster, or a resale marketplace. Our groups will continue to work for a fairer ticket marketplace to ensure that fans are able to access affordable tickets to their favorite events in an open, transparent, and competitive marketplace.”
Organizations supporting the Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights include National Consumers League, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Federation of California, Fan Freedom Project, National Association of Consumer Advocates, Protect Ticket Rights, Public Knowledge, Sports Fans Coalition, and U.S. Public Interest Research Project, and Virginia Citizens Consumer Council.
Both coalitions were formed following public legal scrutiny the ticketing agency and Ticketmaster have faced in recent months for its practices. President Biden is working on eliminating these fees, called “junk fees” or “convenience fees,” on a federal level which will end these hidden charges when buying tickets. The Senate Judiciary Committee calls Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, a monolith in live entertainment that needs to be restructured.
Last summer, US Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. of New Jersey launched an investigation for its dynamic “supply and demand” pricing strategy and junk fees. In September, Pascrell sent a letter to Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino demanding the company be “more transparent and fair with its pricing strategies after Ticketmaster confirmed their dynamic pricing is based on supply and demand.”