Like many other businesses, the entertainment industry has taken a massive hit due to the pandemic. Ticketmaster is no exception. The company had sold approximately $2 billion dollars’ worth of tickets for 55,000 events that were all scheduled to take place sometime this year.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in all of those events being postponed or canceled, forcing the company to deal with thousands of angry customers who are wondering if they will ever see their show or get their money back.Read More »
Live Nation has set up two programs that fans may use. In the Rock When You Are Ready program, the company will give fans credit for canceled or postponed events. In the Hero Nation program, people may donate their tickets to health care workers.
Live Nation issued a statement saying that they would automatically process refunds within 30 days unless clients chose the other programs. The statement further explained that if somebody chose to donate their tickets to the Hero Nation program, Live Nation would provide matching donations. If a fan chose the Rock When You Are Ready Program, Live Nation would provide a credit worth 150 percent of the original ticket price toward a future show.
It took Live Nation a month of negotiating with five major talent agencies – CAA, ICM, Paradigm, UCA, and WME – to put together their programs. They have also had to work with professional sports leagues who needed to reschedule their games and used the same buildings as the performers.
Live Nation also needed to coordinate with the company AEG, which describes itself as the “world’s leading sports and live entertainment company.” AEG will be offering refunds to fans under the same rules as Live Nation, which means fans will have 30 days to ask for a refund after a given show has announced their new date. They may not, however, ask for reimbursement until a performer has announced their new schedule.
As for Ticketmaster, 30,000 of their events have already canceled or postponed. Another 25,000 events had also been scheduled for this year, and the company expects many of them will also be canceled or postponed. They will begin offering refunds for these events as soon as they receive word regarding their status. Critics have lambasted the company for not offering refunds immediately after performers postponed or canceled their shows, but company officials have stated that the business doesn’t hold onto to money from ticket sales. Instead, they send the money to clients such as the promoters AEG and Live Nation. Those clients then send deposits to the performers through their talent agents.
Rescheduled events typically have low refund rates, but Live Nation isn’t sure what will happen this time. Many of the fans being offered refunds badly need money, so a greater than usual number may seize the chance to get refunds for their tickets. Live Nation and AEG have had to renegotiate countless tour deals to reduce the risk for performances that they had already paid for. They also needed to inform the artists of any potential problems.
Criticism increased as the negotiations continued, and the company struggled with the logistics of rearranging performances during what they had anticipated would be live music’s busiest summer ever. Unfortunately, the company’s reluctance to divulge any plans led to rumors that it wouldn’t reimburse its customers. Politicians like Congressmembers Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Katie Porter (D-CA) began accusing Live Nation of profiting off of the coronavirus. Porter went so far as to issue a statement demanding that the company “do the right thing” and give people back their money.
Live Nation officials were frustrated by the criticism, for they have already taken pay cuts so they wouldn’t have to lay off employees. They had also established a fund worth $10 million to help out-of-work road crews, and they had kept thousands of people working at their homes through teleconferencing and zoom meetings to reschedule the many events affected by the pandemic.
So far, the company has covered most of the events up through July. They plan to address events slated for August and the fall at a later date. While some of these have simply been canceled, others will be rescheduled. The NBA and the NHL are rescheduling their games and they are in charge of any refunds for those games.
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