Live Nation’s CEO Doesn’t Think It’s ‘Reasonable To Expect To See The Cure For $20 In An Arena’

The Cure and Robert Smith have become heroes of the people in recent months, as the singer has been vocal regarding his distaste of high concert ticket prices and Ticketmaster fees. However, Michael Rapino, the CEO of Ticketmaster parent company Live Nation, seems to think Smith’s idea of seeing The Cure in a major venue for $20 is idealistic.

During a recent appearance on The Bob Lefsetz Podcast (as Consequence notes), Rapino was asked if it’s “reasonable to expect to see The Cure for $20 in an arena” (like Smith wanted) and he responded, “No. I think the pricing of concerts in general… there’s this fine line between, yes, we want it accessible, and it’s a fine art and there’s a price to it.”

Later, he discussed high-price platinum tickets for artists like Harry Styles, Bruce Springsteen, and Adele, saying:

“It’s a magic moment, maybe twice a year — way cheaper than Disneyland, or the Super Bowl, or the NFL or the NBA playoffs, or an expensive night out. So it’s really cheap overall, considering. This is a great, great product that people will buy, as they’re gonna buy the Gucci bag. They’re gonna buy moments in life where they will step up, and spoil themselves — the big screen TV and or whatever it may be. This is a business where we can charge a bit more. I’m not saying excessively, but it’s a great two-hour performance of a lifetime, that happens once every three, four years in that market. You don’t have to under-price yourself: low- to middle-income [people] will make their way to that arena for that special night.”

He also spoke about Ticketmaster giving partial refunds on The Cure tickets, saying, “We were proud of Ticketmaster’s side. We did a ton of work with Robert, making sure [tickets] were non-transferable, that it would be a face value [ticket] exchange and verified, doing all we could to put all the roadblocks to deliver his ticket prices to the fans. There was a screenshot of a venue, which wasn’t even a Live Nation venue… that showed a ticket service fee of $20 on $20. It doesn’t matter whether we justify the service fee is a good idea or not, we have an industry where we have to build some credibly back. I couldn’t defend in any version that we were going to add a $20 service fee to a $20 ticket. We made a decision that we would spend some money, give back the $10, and get it to a reasonable place for those fans. […] It was a fast decision, we thought it was worth the million dollars or so to send the right message.”

Listen to the full podcast episode here.