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The Cure’s Robert Smith criticises Ticketmaster over fees for US tour tickets exceeding face value prices

By | Published on Thursday 16 March 2023

The Cure

The Cure’s Robert Smith has responded to criticism about ticket fees for shows on their upcoming North American tour, which in some cases exceed the price of the actual tickets being sold.

The band, he said, had opted to sell tickets though Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan system in order to limit the number that ended up on the big bad touting sites (or ‘scalping’ sites if you prefer, given these are US shows). Despite seeing positives with that approach, Smith said that he was also angry about the high fees charged by the Live Nation-owned ticketing platform.

“I am as sickened as you all are by today’s Ticketmaster fees debacle”, he wrote on Twitter last night. “To be very clear: The artist has no way to limit them. I have been asking how they are justified. If I get anything coherent by way of an answer I will let you all know”.

Prior to the tickets going on sale, Smith explained to fans why the band had chosen to sell exclusively though Ticketmaster, saying: “We had final say in all our ticket pricing for this upcoming tour and didn’t want those prices instantly and horribly distorted by resale”.

He said that Ticketmaster had assured the band that, by using its Verified Fans system, they could reduce the number of tickets that would end up being touted via North America’s “multi-billion dollar” resale market by as much as 80%.

As a result, he continued, the band “were convinced that Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan page and face value ticket exchange ideas could help us fight the scalpers”.

“We know it is a far from perfect system”, he went on, “but the reality is that if there aren’t enough tickets on sale, a number of fans are going to miss out whatever system we use. At least this one tries to get tickets into the hands of fans at a fair price”.

This all comes at a time when Ticketmaster is facing heavy criticism in US political circles for some of its ticket-selling practices.

That criticism spiked after all the issues that occurred when tickets for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour were put on sale via the Verified Fan system last year – an incident that resulted in a hearing in US Congress where the ticketing business in general and Ticketmaster in particular were both in the spotlight.

One practice that has come in for significant criticism of late is Ticketmaster’s ‘dynamic pricing’ system, which prices tickets based on demand. Smith also had some harsh words for that, confirming that the band had refused to implement said system because it seemed like a “scam”.

As well as taking aim at Ticketmaster itself over dynamic pricing and so called platinum tickets, he also berated other artists who have chosen to employ the practice.

“We didn’t agree to the dynamic pricing/price surging/platinum ticket thing because it is itself a bit of a scam”, he wrote. “I had a separate conversation about platinum to see if I had misunderstood something, but I hadn’t! It is a greedy scam and all artists have the choice not to participate. If no artists participate, it would cease to exist”.

Fans themselves didn’t get off entirely scot-free either when it came to Smith’s ticketing-related criticisms. Explaining that the band’s team were removing tickets from the secondary sites wherever possible, he added: “I am compelled to note down my obvious recurring elephant in the room thought that if no one bought from scalpers then…”

The Cure’s US tour is set to begin in May and run through to the beginning of July.