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Live Nation Chief Michael Rapino Details Refund Plan, Ticketmaster Issues in Memo to Staff (Read)

Michael Rapino, President and CEO of
Paul A Hebert/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

As the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the touring industry, it is not surprising that Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company, has been impacted on a scale arguably greater than that of any other company. Not only has it seen more than 8,000 concerts and festivals impacted since March (with 6,500 events postponed and 1,500 events cancelled), it has been clobbered in the press for its refund policy — which was recently revised, after considerable criticism, to include postponed shows as well as cancelled ones — and seen its stock prices take a beating, and its Ticketmaster service has had some 50,000 events on its platform impacted.

But chairman/CEO Michael Rapino has fought to restore confidence in both the company and the industry at large, and he circulated a memo to the staff late Monday clarifying its policies and practices in significant detail.

The memo follows in full, but in addition to the above statistics, he notes that Live Nation has already refunded more than $80 million to ticketholders — and Ticketmaster some $400 million — and noted that regarding Ticketmaster refunds, “It is important to remind everyone that Ticketmaster is a platform, and does not hold on to money from client sales,” he wrote. “In order to issue refunds, Ticketmaster must first get approval and funds from our clients. These event organizers of concerts, festivals, games or events set the policy on refunds, and Ticketmaster facilitates services accordingly.”

He also acknowledged that the extent of the lockdown has delayed the company’s reaction time. “In a normal environment, handling show changes is usually a fast process,” he wrote, “but with the current scale of disruption there are many tours in a holding pattern amidst the uncertainty of when local event restrictions will be lifted, and scheduling backlogs as many venues wait for pro sports to set their new seasons before offering us new dates.”

The memo follows below in full:

All,

As you know all too well by now, the global health crisis has had a big impact on the live entertainment business, leading to the cancellation or postponement of tens of thousands of events across the globe. The quick escalation and massive scale of this disruption has led to an incredible amount of confusion and misinformation about ticket refunds.

Today I want to outline Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s refund policies so you all understand what we are doing and why for your conversations with fans, partners, clients and friends.

First, Live Nation has already committed to leading the industry by providing the most comprehensive refund options to fans.

  • For context, Live Nation has had more than 8,000 concerts and festivals impacted since March, with 6,500 events postponed and 1,500 events cancelled. And to date, we’ve already refunded $80 million to fans.
  • In a normal environment, handling show changes is usually a fast process, but with the current scale of disruption there are many tours in a holding pattern amidst the uncertainty of when local event restrictions will be lifted, and scheduling backlogs as many venues wait for pro sports to set their new seasons before offering us new dates.
  • Recognizing this complexity, some countries have provided a 1 year voucher program to allow event organizers to get refunds done right and ensure the long-term well-being of the music and sporting events they love to enjoy.
  • In the U.S. and Canada we rolled out a Ticket Refund Plan to give fans a variety of refund options:
    • For cancelled shows, ticket holders will automatically receive a refund, in line with our longtime policy.
    • We also rolled out a special promotion across our venues for fans who know they’ll be coming to shows in the future. Our amphitheaters, clubs and theaters will give fans the option to select a 150% credit for future shows as an alternative to a traditional refund.  So if they spent $200 on tickets, they will receive $300 in credit. When they choose this option, Live Nation will donate tickets to healthcare workers to share the gift of live events with those working on the front line. We will donate one ticket for every ticket originally purchased.
    • For rescheduled shows, ticket holders will automatically have their tickets honored for the new date, unless they opt for a refund once new dates are announced. If new dates aren’t set within 60 days of a show being postponed, fans will be able to get a refund at that time.

Live Nation is only one of the many event organizers using Ticketmaster’s platform.  Ticketmaster services countless other clients, and to date there are 50,000 events that have been cancelled, postponed or rescheduled globally on the TM Platform.  The volume of events being cancelled and postponed in the last month is larger than the last 10 years combined, and this staggering volume has contributed to an extremely complex operating environment that has upended our ordinary processes.  At the same time, we had to prioritize the health and safety of our global call center staff by transitioning to a work-from-home setup that did not exist before the crisis started. While these factors have slowed our typical response times, I want to assure you that our purchase policy has not changed.

  • Across all its event organizers Ticketmaster is issuing full refunds for all cancelled shows.
  • For postponed or rescheduled shows, we are issuing refunds for all clients that have approved of us doing so.
  • It is important to remind everyone that Ticketmaster is a platform, and does not hold on to money from client sales. In order to issue refunds, Ticketmaster must first get approval and funds from our clients. These event organizers of concerts, festivals, games or events set the policy on refunds, and Ticketmaster facilitates services accordingly.
  • 60% of the over 50,000 events that have been cancelled, postponed and rescheduled globally on the TM Platform have been authorized for refunds  – and we have already returned over $400 million to fans.
  • We are continuing to work with clients to expedite their refund approvals as quickly as possible. For reference, below is a breakout of current refund offerings for rescheduled events by category on the TM platform:

Sports

  • MLB 66% of teams
  • MLS 27% of teams
  • NBA 70% of teams
  • NHL 52% of teams

Concerts

  • 100% of LN and AEG shows
  • 56% all other shows

Arts

  • 53% of venues are offering refunds
  • We expect these percentages to all approach 100% as the industry works through the current disruption in the coming weeks.
  • For postponed or rescheduled events offering refunds through TM, most fans have opted to keep their ticket, with only 3% requesting refunds.
  • Looking across the industry, Ticketmaster is working with our clients to offer fans the most flexible refund options available:
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We hope this provides some clarity on what our team is doing to offer fans, artists, and clients the flexibility to navigate this crisis. From the promoters trying to negotiate a massive amount of new dates for shows, to the development team adding new functionality to the Ticketmaster platform to give fans more choices, to the call center staff who has worked tirelessly to respond to every single fan…..I want to thank you for your dedication on getting us to this point.

It takes an entire ecosystem to bring live events to life, and we appreciate your dedication as we work through the details of shifting these shows around the world.

Thank you all for your efforts and your teamwork,

 

– Michael