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The Cure for Ticketmaster?

Robert Smith, frontman of The Cure, announced on Thursday that Ticketmaster will provide $5 and $10 refunds to fans who purchased tickets for the band’s North American tour. This comes after The Cure complained to Ticketmaster about the high fees. Ticketmaster has faced increased criticism from ticket buyers and members of Congress who accuse its owner, Live Nation Entertainment, of being a monopoly that hinders competition and harms fans.

Mr. Smith confirmed on Twitter that Ticketmaster would provide the refunds. He also said that people who had purchased the lowest-priced tickets would automatically receive a $10 refund per ticket and that all other ticket buyers would get a $5 refund. These refunds applied to people who had purchased tickets as a “verified fan,” a Ticketmaster system that requires people to register to gain early access to ticket sales. Fans who buy tickets during the general sale on Friday will “incur lower fees,” he said.

This week on Twitter, Mr. Smith addressed questions and concerns from fans about buying tickets for the 30-show tour, which runs from May to July and includes three performances at Madison Square Garden in New York in June. The Cure had said in an earlier statement that it wanted tickets “to be affordable for all fans.” As part of this effort, Mr. Smith said that The Cure had refused to participate in Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing system, which adjusts ticket prices based on demand.

The system was criticized last year after it drove up the cost for Bruce Springsteen tickets, some of which were selling for thousands of dollars. After tickets for The Cure’s tour went on sale on Wednesday, fans shared screenshots that showed tickets priced at $20 with added fees close to or above the $20 base price. Mr. Smith said on Twitter later that day that he was “sickened” by Ticketmaster’s fees.

The Swifties

“I have been asking how they are justified,” he wrote in all capital letters, his usual Twitter writing style. “If I get anything coherent by way of an answer I will let you all know.”
Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment have been under increased scrutiny since November, when the company botched its planned public sale of tickets to Taylor Swift’s latest tour. In November, the Justice Department opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation Entertainment focused on whether it had abused its power over the live music industry.

In December, 26 of Ms. Swift’s fans filed a lawsuit accusing Live Nation Entertainment of anticompetitive conduct and fraud. In January, the company was the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in which senators from both parties criticized the company’s handling of ticket sales for Ms. Swift’s tour as well as its wider business practices.

Last month, on the same day Live Nation Entertainment announced it had made $651.3 million in ticket revenue in the fourth quarter of 2022, the company responded to politicians in a statement. The company, which sold more than 550 million tickets last year, said it had submitted more than 35 pages of information to policymakers to provide context on the “realities of the industry” that it has dominated since Ticketmaster and Live Nation, an events promoter and venue operator, merged in 2010.

Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment have for decades been criticized for their business practices. The Justice Department said in 2019 that Live Nation Entertainment had “repeatedly violated” the terms of the regulatory agreement that the government imposed as a condition of the merger. The Justice Department investigated complaints of anti-competitive practices by Ticketmaster in the 1990s, after a dispute with the Seattle grunge band Pearl Jam.