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Congressman namechecks Metallica tracks aplenty while calling for new ticketing rules

By | Published on Friday 26 July 2019


US Congressman Bill Pascrell may have named his proposed new ticketing laws after Bruce Springsteen, but when speaking about the proposals in Congress this week the aim of the game was to squeeze in as many Metallica song titles as possible.

However, whereas Springsteen gets a namecheck because of his past opposition to the touting of his tickets, Metallica were the band of the moment during Pascrell’s speech because of their collusion with the touts. Or ‘scalpers’, I guess, as we are talking about American shows.

Pascrell has been pushing for US-wide regulation of the ticketing market for a decade now. His original Boss Act followed Springsteen’s criticism of Ticketmaster after it sent fans to its resale site Tickets Now when primary tickets were, in fact, still available for this shows.

Since then the Congressman has had various goes at introducing new laws regulating both primary and secondary ticketing, with the latest incarnation of his Boss Act being presented to Congress last month.

The new proposals followed a recent FTC-organised day which debated various issues with the American ticketing market, including the failure of ticketing sites to declare all their fees upfront, promoters secretly allocating large quantities of tickets to corporate clients, and secondary sites not providing buyers with important information.

Since the new Boss Act was presented, Billboard ran its report on how, in 2017, Live Nation and Ticketmaster collaborated with Metallica to put 88,000 tickets from a US tour directly onto the secondary market.

The live giant insists that it only participates in such schemes when an artist initiates them, that such tactics have only ever been used by a small number of acts, and that the rise of VIP and premium ticketing solutions mean few performers still seek to tout their own tickets.

But, speaking to the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Pascrell said that the Metallica revelations were proof as to why the ticketing market needs regulating. Dropping the Metallica song titles in, he said that ‘Wherever I May Roam’ music fans express frustration with the ticket buying experience.

“It is important to emphasise that the market place has been governed by zero federal regulation”, he added, which means that the dominant player in live music and ticketing – ie Live Nation/Ticketmaster – “operates with impunity”. And – wait for it – “‘Nothing Else Matters’ to them but profit. It is time for Congress to ‘Turn The Page'”.

Running through the various measures contained in the latest version of his Boss Act, Pascrell said that his proposals were supported by pretty much every consumer rights group. Meanwhile, on the specific proposal to force ticketing platforms to declare all fees upfront, he noted that even the ticketing platforms seemed to suggest they’d support such a thing during that recent FTC debate.

Although some states in the US do regulate ticket sales, Pascrell argues that US-wide federal regulations are now required. A decade on from the original Boss Act, it was not time – he said – for Congress to “pass legislation to impose some order, and to stop bad actors who make a living ripping off regular folks daily”.

You can watch Pascrell’s full speech here: