From time to time, disagreements happen between key players in the industry. It's a natural component of any business. People disagree, they take a step back, find a healthy medium, and then move forward again.
When news first broke about Underoath being one of the first bands to say no to Ticketmaster's policy in regards to fan club ticketing qualification, the Internet ran rampant with headlines saying "Underoath & Manager at War With Ticketmaster!" I had spoken and coordinated a couple of times with Randy Nichols, their manager, over the past several years, and I felt like the full story wasn't being showcased. The following is a brief conversation, but I wanted to make sure that the story was being properly explained to fans of the band about the situation online, in an era where Internet rumors can turn into fact instantaneously.
Below is a short interview with Randy in regards to the current situation, how the management team is reaching an agreement with Ticketmaster, and how there is no "war" going on between the two parties.
When we first talked about this, you had mentioned that this whole situation was way more than TicketMaster ruling the fan club invalid because there was no message board or forum. For those that are reading, what exactly happened with this whole situation, just to provide some context?
Basically bands, for a long time, have been doing these fan club ticketing things. TicketMaster has agreed to allot 8% in the past to bands to sell directly to their fans. Over the past year, there’s been a change in leadership in the Ticketmaster Artist Services division, which is now called OnTour (they’ve recently rebranded). The new regime has decided that they are going to be more strict in their interpretation of what’s considered a fan club. And in that process, there’s lots of bands who are being told that they can no longer do fan club ticketing because it doesn’t meet the criteria.
Interesting. What happened specifically in regards to Underoath, in terms of how the situation went down?
You know, the only thing that’s really different with Underoath than other bands recently is that when we were told no, we didn’t want to take no for an answer. We had planned to do this. We were trying to build our fan club to their specifications. We were aware that they were very detailed in what they would allow, and spent a lot of time making sure that we were following the rules. We felt that their responses were unfair and moving the goal post. Every time we made a change, they didn’t think that was good enough. We kept working and working, and they eventually, after doing everything they said that we needed to do, still said no. We got frustrated, and said, “well, if you’re not going to approve this, we’re not going to play our shows in your venues.” That kind of caught them off guard. Everyone usually says “That sucks, we’re really upset, but oh well. I guess we won’t do our ticketing.” We were the first band to say “if you’re not looking to work with us, then we’re not looking to work with you and play shows with you.”
What kind of solution did you guys reach to ensure that the fan club members were able to still get tickets or some kind of access?
For the solution, we have…I don’t really want to say “one”, because I don’t think that’s really the proper word, but as far as all Live Nation promoted shows, which was the majority of those Ticketmaster dates, Live Nation stepped in and negotiated an agreement that was amicable to both us and Ticketmaster.
Last question: I think the whole thing that’s so weird about this is that if a band isn’t even allowed to define what a fan club is anymore, and they’re being treated more like commodities by ticketing companies than valuable customers, how are bands able to maintain these valuable relationships between their biggest fans and ensure they can get them into the shows?
Ultimately, that’s a tough question, because in reality, there’s countless ways to maintain a relationship between fans and a band. Ultimately, what it’s saying is that it’s disappointing that we can’t guarantee our biggest fans are going to always have access. That’s what’s frustrating. We always try to reward our biggest fans by ensuring that they get tickets first. It definitely blocks us from doing that, which is a bummer.
To clarify, I’m not at war with Ticketmaster. That’s not really what the situation is, and that’s how some people have positioned it. Not to say that I’m not upset with things that Ticketmaster is doing, but I’m not at war with them either.
I’ve been speaking to those guys (at Ticketmaster) and I believe that they’re going to have a solution soon. They are taking these complaints seriously, and are looking to find solutions. -SP
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This has been another Shameless Promotion.