Live Nation, the concert promoter and parent company of Ticketmaster, announced record quarterly results on Friday.
The music giant reported revenue of $6.3 billion for July-September, a massive 63% increase on the same quarter in pre-pandemic 2019, and net profits of $397 million, up from $86.8 million a year ago.
It comes after record concert attendance over the summer, with 44 million ticket-holders attending 11,000 Live Nation events.
The company says attendance at its own venues is up 14% compared to 2019. Among its venues is The Fillmore next to Target Field in Minneapolis, which opened in February 2020.
But the company remains under scrutiny because of the amount it charges fans in service fees when selling tickets through its ticket sales arm Ticketmaster, as well as the introduction of dynamic pricing that sees prices hiked for the best seats, which has been adopted by artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Blink 182, as reported by Bloomberg.
Live Nation has argued that the practice prevents tickets falling into the hands of resellers, and it's going to be able to pass $550 million extra to artists because of dynamic pricing.
It nonetheless continues to take criticism because of its service fees, which aren't declared in ticket pricing until you've clicked to secure a seat.
A ticket to The Foals at The Fillmore in Minneapolis on Dec. 1 currently costs $36.50 for a general admission ticket, but that doesn't take into account the $13.25 service fee and $2.14 in tax, which takes the actual price to $50.82. When you pay for $125 balcony tickets, the service fee increases to $22.50.
A $219 re-sale ticket on Ticketmaster for the Shania Twain concert at the Xcel Energy Center next year carries a service fee of $48.73, and $10 tax, bringing the total price to $274.
Other fees that can also be levied are order processing fees and facility fees, the latter of which are levied by some venues.
Two $20 tickets for Monster Jam at U.S. Bank Stadium in February quickly becomes $75.09 – almost twice the price of the tickets – once two $8.85 service fees, two $10 facility fees, and a one-off $5.95 order processing fee are taken into account.
Live Nation says its ticket fees are determined in collaboration with the venues and artists, who get a portion of the fees in exchange for giving Ticketmaster/Live Nation the rights to sell their tickets.
"The portion of fees we keep helps us to provide our clients with software, equipment, services and support to manage their tickets and box office, and provide the sales network used by clients to distribute tickets to fans," the company says. "The remainder, when taken with other revenues, is how we earn a profit."
Live Nation claims it continues to "advocate for fee transparency in live event ticketing," which comes after President Joe Biden said Thursday he would be ordering his administration to take a look at "surprise charges" as part of a new initiative.
Ticketmaster could implement this on its platform now if it wanted so that people could see the full cost of the ticket on the first page they come to, but it argues "this only works if all ticketing marketplaces adopt together, so that consumers truly can accurately compare as they shop for tickets."