One look at my Instagram will tell you that my favorite weekend activity is going to concerts. I usually attend cheaper and smaller club shows, but every once in a while an arena gig comes along that I cannot resist. During my college years, it’s been My Chemical Romance, whose music I had idolized since I was 10 years old. I even dyed my hair to match Gerard Way’s when I was in eighth grade — or, as much as I could in Catholic school. There was no question about it: I had to get those tickets.
When they went on sale in January 2020, my mom, my roommate, and I all logged in to Ticketmaster half an hour before the sale began. When it finally opened, we were put over number 2,000 in the queue. After waiting with baited breath, we finally got in to the seating map, where our only options were resale tickets with jacked-up prices. My mom, who has been through her fair share of concert ticket drama, was flabbergasted — she had never seen anything like this, even before the advent of digital tickets. At the time, we chalked it up to Ticketmaster underestimating the amount of rabid emos clamoring to see rock royalty. Now, however, I realized that this incident was a symptom of a much larger issue.
When Pearl Jam brought a lawsuit against Ticketmaster in the mid-90s, the music industry started to look for a new way forward when it came to ticket sales. Unfortunately for everyone except Ticketmaster, the company held — and still holds — a near monopoly on ticket companies. Pearl Jam lost their court case, but the seed was planted in everyone’s minds — Ticketmaster takes advantage of their hold on the industry to hike prices up and help scalpers. More recently, the company made similar headlines after the sale of Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour tickets went infamously horribly. The Ticketmaster issue now spans from Gen X all the way to Gen Z, which was a large reason the U.S. Senate got involved, albeit a few decades overdue.
When I go to a show, I opt for digital tickets that are scanned through the seller’s app. I have about five ticket sites’ apps downloaded on my phone. A simple Google search reveals Ticketmaster ultimately owns four of them. The company loves to disguise itself in order to trick the consumer into thinking they aren’t supporting its tyranny — an extremely shady business tactic. In a monopoly, the consumers are left with no choice. I could give up live shows, but I want to be able to support my favorite artists. Musicians make the majority of their living through merch sales, and if everyone boycotted Ticketmaster-owned companies, there would be no one showing up to a gig, let alone buying merch. Venues would also quickly go under, leaving many on the administrative side jobless. It’s clear regulations need to be put in place and soon. The entire industry is suffering more than ever because of Ticketmaster’s greed.
Grace Quayle is from Wichita, Kan.
Her major is English.