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Live Nation and Ticketmaster tell Biden they're going to show fees up front

President Biden speaks about new measures to disclose hidden service fees alongside executives from companies that are vowing the end the practice.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds
/
AFP via Getty Images
President Biden speaks about new measures to disclose hidden service fees alongside executives from companies that are vowing the end the practice.

Updated June 15, 2023 at 4:10 PM ET

President Biden was joined at the White House on Thursday by some of the country's biggest ticket sellers — companies that are promising to end the practice of tacking on surprise fees at the end of an online order.

Consumers won't see a sudden drop in ticket prices or see that annoying $24.99 service fee disappear. But they will know about it before they start adding tickets to their cart.

"Starting in September, Live Nation will automatically list all of the prices up front for all tickets to events at more than 200 venues of its own, benefiting more than 30 million customers," Biden said. "It will give customers the option for an all-in price for all other tickets sold on its platform."

Biden said more transparency in pricing can lead to more competition, which can bring down costs for consumers.

The move is part of an ongoing White House push to rein in unexpected fees in a variety of sectors. It follows the debacle Ticketmaster created last year during the initial sale of tickets for Taylor Swift's Eras Tour. Consumers saw exorbitant prices, long waits and system crashes that spurred antitrust lawsuits against the ticketing giant.

Politicians and policymakers came under serious pressure after the Taylor Swift fiasco to eliminate the surprise costs consumers see when they're buying tickets and services online.

Biden pledged in his State of the Union speech in February to try to do more to eliminate those hiding fees and surcharges. After that address, Live Nation Entertainment, formed from a merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster, expressed interest in offering all-in, upfront pricing on its site.

Other companies, such as ticket vendor SeatGeek, and xBk, a Iowa-based venue and board member for the National Independent Venue Association, are also moving to introduce all-in pricing.

Ticketmaster has spent the past several months working to quell criticism of their pricing and fee structure that bubbled up around major concert tours, including Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.

The company is battling several state anti-trust investigations and lawsuits over their pricing practices. The Senate also held a hearing on Live Nation's lack of competition in January and called on the Justice Department to intervene shortly after.

Live Nation said it has submitted more than 35 pages of information to policymakers and denies engaging "in behaviors that could justify antitrust litigation, let alone orders that would require it to alter fundamental business practices."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie
Kelsey Snell
Kelsey Snell is a Congressional correspondent for NPR. She has covered Congress since 2010 for outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and National Journal. She has covered elections and Congress with a reporting specialty in budget, tax and economic policy. She has a graduate degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and an undergraduate degree in political science from DePaul University in Chicago.