June 23, 2016
Authored by Christopher Powers, Summer Law Clerk
This week, the new Lakeview Amphitheater in Syracuse, N.Y., hosted one of the biggest concerts of the summer in these parts. The sold-out Dave Matthews Band concert was the first show of the season, and first ever sellout, at the new venue, which opened in 2015.
The kickoff of concert season coincides perfectly with the settlement of a major legal dispute that has implications for concert-goers, here in Syracuse and across the country, for months and possibly years to come.
Earlier this week, the parties in Curt Schlesinger et al v. Ticketmaster, settled their 13-year-old class-action lawsuit. The suit was filed in 2003 when two music fans who had purchased concert tickets through the online ticketing platform Ticketmaster complained that the service’s fees were excessive and misleading. In 2011, the parties agreed to a settlement whereby Ticketmaster agreed to return money to fans. The logistics of those refunds were finally agreed to, and that’s what made headlines this week.
As part of the agreement, anyone who bought tickets using Ticketmaster’s website between Oct. 21, 1999, and Feb. 27, 2013, is eligible to receive vouchers for free and/or discounted tickets. Depending on how many tickets a person bought via Ticketmaster during that time frame, a person may be eligible for anywhere from 1 to 17 vouchers. The number of vouchers customers are eligible for will appear when they log in to their ticketmaster.com account.
Three types of vouchers are possible: (1) a $2.25 discount on any ticket; (2) a $5.00 discount toward UPS delivery of any ticket; or (3) two free general admission tickets at venues owned or operated by Live Nation Entertainment, the entity that owns Ticketmaster. The first two types apply to any ticket purchased through Ticketmaster, while the free general admission vouchers only work for a select list of concerts provided by Ticketmaster. Some of the more well-known performers for whom the Live Nation vouchers may possibly be used range from Keith Urban to Duran Duran to Darius Rucker to Steely Dan to Kool & the Gang and many others.
You may have received an email from Ticketmaster alerting you that you are eligible for a discount. However, actually redeeming that discount is where it can get tricky for consumers. The company has indicated that vouchers will be redeemed on a first-come, first-served basis, so the first movers will have the advantage. The terms of the settlement dictate that Ticketmaster is obligated to pay out $42 million in discounts over the next four years. At first blush, that seems like a substantial amount of money. Upon further inspection, however, it doesn’t equate to significant, if any, savings on future ticket purchases. According to The New York Times , Ticketmaster already has sent an estimated $386 million worth of discount codes to nearly 57 million people. If each person who claims a voucher only claims the $2.25 option, that means that only 18,666,667 people, at most, would get a discount. Almost certainly, the number will become far less than that as more expensive options are redeemed. Additionally, the list of eligible shows where the general admission vouchers may be redeemed currently includes zero shows in Upstate New York, making redemption for local consumers even less likely.
The bottom line is that, yes, you may be eligible for a discount, but unless you act fast and are willing to travel, you may not ever see it.