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Live Nation eliminates service fees for June amphitheater shows

June 1, 2010 |  2:57 pm

Live Nation Entertainment is forgoing all service charges this month on tickets for concerts at all amphitheaters the entertainment giant operates across the country.

“No Service Fee June” will apply to about 8 million tickets for 700 performances by more than 100 artists, from Alice in Chains to the Zac Brown Band, according to a release issued Tuesday by Live Nation.

In Southern California, that encompasses Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, the San Manuel Amphitheater in Devore, Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in Chula Vista and the San Diego State University Open Air Theatre.

“A fan in every seat is our mission this summer,” Live Nation President and Chief Executive Michael Rapino said in the statement, echoing a goal he stated last year before the hotly debated merger of the world’s largest concert promoter (Live Nation) with the largest ticket agency (Ticketmaster).  “We know that’s tough in this economy, so it’s our job to find a way to make concerts more affordable.”

Despite periodically waving add-on fees during promotions such as “No Service Fee Wednesdays” before and since the merger was approved in January by the U.S. Justice Department, concert-goers have continued voicing a steady stream of criticism over shows for which they are charged fees above and beyond the face value price of tickets.

“When I have to buy a $10 ticket, add the Ticketmaster and other fees, I come out paying $30-$40 or more, it's horrible,” one reader posted in response to a story about Live Nation Entertainment’s first quarter earnings. “I haven't been to a gig in 8 months because of this.”

Others see Live Nation looking for ways to keep more of the money that’s changing hands over tickets to the hottest shows.

“While I agree that concert tickets are too expensive,” reader Rob Levine wrote, “I think the new Live Nation is less interested in raising prices than it is in capturing more of the price for which tickets are sold – i.e., getting more of the markup that now goes to scalpers for the artist and promoter.”

Indeed, that was one of Rapino’s key points during a conference call in which he discussed the company’s first-quarter results.

"Our fundamental belief at Ticketmaster/Live Nation,” he said, “is [that] the answer to grow our business is less about trying to make $5 or $6 million in service fees off secondaries and much more important to figure out how to capture that $1 billion in up-sell on the face value of tickets."

Fans also are likely to keep a skeptical eye on the asterisk in the new “No Service Fee* Tickets/June” campaign logo. “No service fee tickets available while supplies last,” the disclaimer states. “Parking, shipping and other non ‘service fee’ costs may apply.”

-- Randy Lewis