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Live Nation admits to putting tickets straight on resale market

 James Hetfield (L) and Kirk Hammett of Metallica perform during the 2017 Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival at Golden Gate Park on Aug. 12, 2017 in San Francisco, Calif. .
James Hetfield (L) and Kirk Hammett of Metallica perform during the 2017 Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival at Golden Gate Park on Aug. 12, 2017 in San Francisco, Calif. . Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Live Nation, the multibillion-dollar entertainment company that owns Ticketmaster, has been accused of colluding with a number of artists and representatives in placing concert tickets onto secondary ticket-selling websites before they go on sale to the public, according to a report published by Billboard last week.

The exposé revealed the context of a February 2017 phone call between Live Nation’s president of U.S. concerts, Bob Roux, and an event promoter by the name of Vaughn Millette, who recorded and shared the private conversation.

On the call, the two were reportedly discussing Metallica‘s then-upcoming WorldWired tour in North America, which is currently ongoing.

An associate of the heavy metal band allegedly enlisted Millette to sell close to 88,000 tickets directly to third-party sites in order for each party to profit even further.

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Ticketmaster tickets and gift cards are shown at a box office in San Jose, Calif., on May 11, 2009. The Competition Bureau says Ticketmaster will pay $4.5-million in penalties and associated costs after an investigation into misleading pricing claims for its online ticket sales. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Paul Sakuma
Ticketmaster tickets and gift cards are shown at a box office in San Jose, Calif., on May 11, 2009. The Competition Bureau says Ticketmaster will pay $4.5-million in penalties and associated costs after an investigation into misleading pricing claims for its online ticket sales. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Paul Sakuma THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Paul Sakuma

The result of this would be a severe hike in ticket pricing and, of course, an even lower chance for fans to successfully buy tickets from Ticketmaster directly at a fair face-value price.

A representative of Live Nation confirmed these reports to Variety in a statement on Friday, claiming that although the company went through with the transfers, it’s a rare occurrence and only happens at the request of the artist or their management or representatives.

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During the 11-minute phone conversation, Roux reportedly made it clear that the mass ticket transfer had to be kept under the radar.

“Ticketmaster will not do it,” he said to Millette, further suggesting that “either a Live Nation employee or a venue box office take [the tickets] and sell them into a singular account.”
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Expressing his concern on the questionable transaction, Roux continued: “When this happens, 4,600 tickets into a single account, there may be some eyebrows that get raised.”

James Hetfield (L) and Kirk Hammett of Metallica perform o stage during the band’s ‘WorldWired’ tour concert in Hämeenlinna, Finland, on July 16, 2019.
James Hetfield (L) and Kirk Hammett of Metallica perform o stage during the band’s ‘WorldWired’ tour concert in Hämeenlinna, Finland, on July 16, 2019. Lehtikuva / Vesa Moilanen

As reported by Billboard, Millette passed along the phone call recording to a number of Live Nation executives in a threatening email sent on June 27, notifying them of his findings while working for the company.

The call was recorded legally but without Roux’s knowledge, according to Variety.

Millette is now the CEO of Outback Presents, a competing entertainment company.

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In an additional statement provided to Billboard by a representative of Metallica’s management company, Q Prime, it was revealed the band members of Metallica were unaware of the transfer and that a ticketing consultant by the name of Tony DiCioccio allegedly made the deal with Live Nation.

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Furthermore, Live Nation wrote: “About a dozen artists out of the thousands we work with asked us to do this.”

“Since then, requests like these have declined virtually to zero as tools like dynamic pricing, platinum seats and VIP packages have proven to be more effective at recapturing value previously lost to the secondary market,” the Live Nation statement continued.

DiCiocci reportedly still works for Metallica, according to Billboard

Ticketmaster helps fans get their digital tickets ready on their mobile devices for the Seahawks home opener at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Seattle, Wash.
Ticketmaster helps fans get their digital tickets ready on their mobile devices for the Seahawks home opener at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Seattle, Wash. Stephen Brashear/AP Images for Ticketmaster

In a statement provided to Global News, a Live Nation representative said: “Live Nation does not have a practice of placing tickets on the secondary market. Our standard practice is to use Ticketmaster’s Platinum, VIP and other tools to help tours price closer to true market value.”

“In this situation, a consultant for the band opted to use the secondary market to try to capture that value,” the representative added.

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READ MORE: In light of the Ticketmaster investigation, are there other ways to get tickets?

“In 2016, Metallica performed a single show in Minneapolis at which more than 10,000 tickets were transacted on the secondary market without the band’s participation. After seeing the volume of secondary transactions for that show and the benefit being captured by brokers, the independent consultant worked with Live Nation on a unique distribution strategy that used the secondary market as a sales distribution channel for select high-end tickets.”

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Metallica thanks volunteers for charity work
Metallica thanks volunteers for charity work

As of this writing, none of the members of Metallica have publicly addressed this incident.

Global News has reached out to a representative of Q Prime seeking further clarification.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca