Live Nation spars with senator over its vow to ditch hidden ticket fees

Live Nation, the largest concert promoter in the world, is sparring with a U.S. senator who has objected to the company’s vow to eliminate its practice of charging ticket buyers a “convenience fee” for an order even if only one ticket is purchased.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino on Friday that the company’s forgoing of the fees is “nothing more than a cynical reformulation of how it charges exorbitant ticket prices.” He said that while Live Nation is “marketing its decision as an effort to make ticket prices more transparent, in reality the company has simply added their broadly scoped fee onto the prices.”

In a sharply worded response sent back to Blumenthal on Wednesday, Live Nation said that its new pricing model “will save consumers an estimated $32 million per year in convenience fees” and that “the fees we have eliminated are ticketing fees charged to consumers for the privilege of purchase on our platform, not fees for artists or other insiders.”

Live Nation also pointed out that they have “reduced ticket prices by as much as 20 percent” since making the decision to eliminate the ticketing fees. It also noted that Blumenthal had previously supported Live Nation’s initiatives to improve ticketing transparency.

Blumenthal quickly shot back, accusing Live Nation of using “misleading math” and distortion.

“The truth is that your recent decision to reduce designated ‘convenience’ fees has shifted the fee responsibility onto consumers by changing the way in prices are presented,” he wrote.

Live Nation countered that “the only thing we are asking of the senator is that he and the American public recognize the significant benefit to consumers of eliminating the fees.”

As the spat continues, the debate continues over how ticketing fees should be structured and how their absence will affect consumers. The conversation is likely to heat up even more as the summer concert season is about to kick off.