US House passes ‘TICKET Act’ requiring all-in pricing for major live events

Dylan Mullins via Unsplash

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that would require ticket sellers for major music and sports events to display the full price of a ticket upfront, including all fees.

The Transparency in Charges for Key Events Ticketing (TICKET) Act passed on Wednesday (May 15) with broad bipartisan support, by a vote of 388-24.

If passed into law, the bill would also ban the practice of “speculative ticketing,” in which ticket resellers sell a ticket that they have yet to purchase themselves.

The bill also mandates guaranteed refunds for event cancellations or postponements, and prohibits the use of deceptive URLs that are used to rip off consumers through fraudulent ticketing sites.

“This consensus legislation will end deceptive ticketing practices that frustrate consumers who simply want to enjoy a concert, show, or sporting event by restoring fairness and transparency to the ticket marketplace,” said House representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Republican of Washington), Frank Pallone, Jr. (Democrat of New Jersey), and Gus Bilirakis (Republican of Florida), in a joint statement.

The three members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – which approved the bill in a unanimous vote last December – added: “After years of bipartisan work, we will now be able to enhance the customer experience of buying event tickets online. We look forward to continuing to work together to urge quick Senate passage so that we can send it to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”

A companion bill in the Senate was introduced last year, at around the same time as the House version of the bill was tabled. The Senate version was championed by Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

Another similar bill, the Fans First Act, was introduced in the Senate last December by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Peter Welch, and Ben Ray Lujan, and Republican Sens. John Cornyn, Marsha Blackburn, and Roger Wicker.

This bill, along with the TICKET Act, received support from numerous music industry groups that have come together in a coalition called Fix The Tix. The group has been pushing for reforms to the US’s ticketing business, which has been coming under fire from consumers.

“This consensus legislation will end deceptive ticketing practices that frustrate consumers who simply want to enjoy a concert, show, or sporting event by restoring fairness and transparency to the ticket marketplace.”

House Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Frank Pallone, Jr., and Gus Bilirakis

Led by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) and ticketing company Eventbrite, The Fix The Tix coalition includes the Recording Academy, the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), the Artist Rights Alliance, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and Universal Music Group.

Last month, the Fix The Tix coalition organized a letter that was signed by more than 250 musical artists – including  Billie Eilish, Green Day, Lorde, and Sia – calling on the Senate to pass the Fans First Act.

The idea of “all-in” ticket pricing also has the backing of Live Nation, owner of Ticketmaster, the largest (and arguably dominant) ticketing company operating in the US. Live Nation announced last year that it would be moving towards “all-in” ticket pricing, regardless of federal legislation on the matter.

In a press release a day before the House vote on the TICKET Act, Live Nation said its all-in pricing model resulted in “an 8% increase in completed sales in the first six months the program rolled out across all Live Nation venues and festivals in the US.”

“Showing the total cost to walk in the door upfront is better for fans and artists,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said.

A Live Nation spokesperson said after the House vote that the company “applauds House lawmakers for advancing the TICKET Act. We’ve led the industry by adopting all-in pricing and support a national law to ensure everyone follows this policy that benefits fans and artists. We also back other ticketing reforms like enhancing anti-bot legislation and banning speculative ticketing and other predatory resale practices. Bipartisan support for these reforms show that protecting fans and artists is in everyone’s interest. We look forward to working with policymakers to make these changes law.”

The push to reform ticketing comes in the wake of a series of controversies around the business in recent years. Among the most prominent was an uproar among fans of Bruce Springsteen, who saw ticket prices for his 2023 tour rise as high as $5,000 per seat. Another involved Ticketmaster’s system crashing on the opening of sales for Taylor Swift‘s The Eras Tour.

“Showing the total cost to walk in the door upfront is better for fans and artists.”

Michael Rapino, Live Nation

However, it’s unclear whether the proposed laws would prevent similar situations from arising in the future. The Springsteen controversy stems from Ticketmaster’s “dynamic pricing” system, which adjusts ticket prices in real time according to demand. Neither the TICKET Act nor the Fans First Act ban dynamic pricing.

And according to Live Nation’s Rapino, the Taylor Swift snafu was the result of Ticketmaster’s efforts to prevent bots from buying large numbers of tickets to resell at higher prices on the secondary market.

The US passed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act in 2016, in an effort to crack down on mass purchases of tickets by bots, but the legislation seems to have had limited impact.

The Senate’s Fans First Act includes measures to increase enforcement of anti-bot laws; the House’s TICKET Act instructs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate and report on enforcement of the BOTS Act.Music Business Worldwide

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