Kirk Hammett of Metallica performs at the Fonda Theatre on December 15, 2016. Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kirk Hammett of Metallica performs at the Fonda Theatre on December 15, 2016. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images))

Metallica's Secret Deal with Live Nation Reveals How Artists Scalp Their Own Tickets

Metallica's Secret Deal with Live Nation Reveals How Artists Scalp Their Own Tickets

You know that frustration when concert tickets you want finally go on sale, but they immediately sell out and are already on StubHub a split second later due to scalpers?

New evidence shows you might want to blame the band for scalping their own tickets.

A leaked recording of a phone call between a consultant who works with Metallica and a Live Nation executive reveals what's long been talked about behind closed doors: that the promotions giant Live Nation—which also owns Ticketmaster—teams up with artists to resell their own tickets for a higher price on the secondary market through backdoor deals.

As Billboard's Dave Brooks and Hannah Karp first reported today, Tony DiCioccio coordinated with Live Nation to place 88,000 tickets from Metallica's WorldWired North American tour on StubHub and other resale sites instead of giving fans a chance to buy them directly.

The hush-hush deal was conducted through surreptitious accounts, set up similarly to those of fan clubs and sponsors that receive large ticket quantities in exchange for helping promote tours. When Billboard reporters confronted Live Nation with the leaked phone tape, which was recorded by Vaughn Millette of Live Nation competitor Outback Presents, the company copped to the practice, stating that in 2016 and 2017, "about a dozen artists out of the thousands we work with asked us to do this." (Live Nation representatives contend that the practice has dwindled as artists have found new ways to recover lost revenue, such as tiered pricing for premium seats and expensive VIP packages.)

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Live Nation's admission runs contrary to Ticketmaster's previous statement: as Brooks and Karp pointed out, Ticketmaster executives denied funneling tickets to resale sites as recently as 2018.

Industry experts quoted in Billboard's report say the situation illustrates a catch-22 that major artists face amid the rise of ticket resale sites. When artists keep prices low for fans, it's easier for scalpers to scoop tickets up and resell them for profit. Raise prices, and the artists risk looking greedy and turning off their base.

But are secret deals that inflate prices and make shows less accessible to the average fan really the answer? Read the Billboard story here to learn more.

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