Ticket rage: a national solution

It is so nice to see the backlash against Ticketmaster’s monopolistic practices. Two class action suits have been filed in Canada over the past weeks, and south of the border anti-trust alarm bells are ringing due to Ticketmaster’s proposed merger with Live Nation.

Tickets sales have become something close to a natural monopoly, and as such should either have their service charges regulated, or else be nationalized as a ticket distribution utility. My gripes against Ticketmaster go back a number of years, and though my post calling for the nationalization of Ticketmaster was somewhat tongue in cheek, it could be just the thin end of a wedge that turns rapacious monopolists into public utilities.

Given the abuses of monopoly power in Canada, nationalization could become hip and cool again. Once we get Ticketmaster, I want the whole dang internet taken out of the hands of Rogers, Shaw, Telus and Bell.

5 comments

  • “I want the whole dang internet taken out of the hands of Rogers, Shaw, Telus and Bell.”

    ha! i might be able to connect for longer than half-minute stretches then!

  • Bah, this is just a roundabout way of putting Ted Junior in his place. You’re way too transparent dude.

  • Is ticket selling really a “natural” monopoly? My understanding is that the phrase applies to situations where it’s physically impossible (or very difficult) for competition to exist – gas and phone lines, for example. I can think of reasons why it’s more profitable to have a monopoly over ticket sales, but is it impossible? Couldn’t bands sell tickets via a number of outlets when they are touring?

    I did learn a new word from reading about this case: monopsony. It’s when there’s one buyer (TicketMaster) and many sellers (bands). TicketMaster has the dubious distinction of being both a monopoly AND a monopsony.

    I really hope these cases go somewhere. TicketMaster is outrageous, with its “convenience fees” and other cash-grabs.

  • PH,

    You are right. It is not an actual natural monopoly, but a situation where market dominance begets more dominance, including deals with venues and other deliberate anti-competitive behaviour. For a new entrant the barriers to entry are ostentibly low, ie setting up a server with e-commerce software, but beyond that the barriers are mile-high.

  • From what I have read and heard part of the problem is that the big acts charge + 100 percent of the face value of the ticket price and that this has forced both horizontal and vertical integration in the sector. So it was nice of Springsteen to cry about ticket-masters de-facto on-line scalping scam but it would be nice to see his contract.

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