But with restrictive ticketing, these transactions either become impossible or can only be processed through the same monopoly that sold the ticket the first time. Ticketmaster, the dominant primary ticket-seller, is owned by Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter and manager of the world’s most popular music stars. And through Live Nation, it owns or has exclusive booking rights in more than 120 major venues across the nation. Ticketmaster also owns TicketsNow, the second largest ticket resale marketplace, and operates its TicketExchange service for many sports teams and leagues, including the entire NFL. As you might predict, Ticketmaster’s restrictive tickets can often only be resold on Ticketmaster-owned resale services like TicketsNow. And as you would expect, this closed-loop monopoly leads to higher fees and poor customer service, and even allows the ticketers to set arbitrary minimum and maximum sale prices. It’s like purchasing a new car and years later finding out that you can only resell it to the original dealer and that the dealer gets to unilaterally dictate both the sale price and his cut of the transaction.
This strange attempt to thwart free market principles has already engendered legislative fights in a number of state capitols, with unusual coalitions of free market advocates and consumer rights crusaders banding together to oppose restrictive ticketing. Their message is simple: let the free market run its course, and let sports and music fans do what they wish with the tickets they buy.
Suhail A. Khan chairs the Conservative Inclusion Coalition and serves on the Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union.