Customer Reviews: Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped
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This is the first truly comprehensive look at the history of the billion dollar concert ticketing industry, and should deservedly be the first go-to book for anybody ever doing work on the subject.

I worked in the ticket industry for about 13 years, so I've seen most of the changes the author describes. Stub Hub, the now-ubiqutous ticket marketplace, used to call our office years ago and explain what a great idea they had about a national format - and we laughed, and laughed.

Most importantly, though, the stories Budnick and Baron tell happened the way they tell it. I can speak to their credibility, at least as far as their stories on Stub Hub, Tickets Now, and other ticket brokers.

No question they put in every bit of detail they could get their hands on. That is one of the flaws of the book, that they put in so much that it's sometimes difficult to tell what facts are most important, and where the reader's focus should really be. This book takes some work - it's not a beach read. You have to be prepared to pay attention, read things again, and then re-read. There is a lot of business discussion, and dollar figures, and other small details that require a lot of the reader's attention.

A big flaw is the lack of specific ticket prices. Only a few times do the authors actually say what a concert costs, and since the entire book is on the notion that the public is getting 'scalped,' it's hard to see exactly HOW, without seeing the increase in price.

I know that the Rolling Stones, for example, charged $60 for their best field seats for their 1997 tour - and $450 in 2005. Awful, right? But even though the Rolling Stones are a major part of the book, the authors never use any specific ticket prices - they talk about fan club prices, but not tickets. I wish the authors had used more specific price examples to both horrify and educate the reader about the much higher prices they are now paying. And, the impact of the Internet - where ticket broker prices suddenly became public knowledge - isn't highlighted quite well enough.

But as far as what the author's include, it really shows how distant the idea of concerts has gotten from the "old days" when it was about the music. Now, concerts are just one more product that companies provide as a way to get a captive audience that they can then sell other products too. It will make a reader very cynical. The stories about the Grateful Dead's mail-order ticket system, and Pearl Jam's lawsuit (although they aren't the heroes they presented themselves to be) against Ticketmaster are among the most interesting, well-detailed sections.

So, the book is very detailed and infomative, but often hard to follow and requires very close attention. But I can speak to the credibility of at least some of it, so I think the rest of it is equally accurate.
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on August 28, 2012
This book is a must read for anybody that is an avid concertgoer that has always wondered why a show sells out in less than 5 minutes and if they get tickets, they're always the worst seats in the building.

This book is written in a very "60 Minutes" type investigation manner about Ticketmaster. It breaks down the origins of computerized ticketing from its very beginnings to where it's at today. The book examines the greed, corruption and blatant arrogance that takes place in the concert industry. From agents, promoters and even the artists themselves, this book leaves no stone unturned.

Definitely worth the read.
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on April 21, 2016
If your are a concertgoer and bought tickets many times from Ticketmaster this book was a very interesting read. With a lot of background information on how Ticketmaster became so big and how all of the other small ticket companies kind of got rolled up. I can remember going to concerts by cellar door SFX and all these other companies just from the ticket stubs that I had, from the probably close to thousand concerts I've been to in my lifetime. This book did however have a very strange unexpected consequence by reading it, it seemed to reinforce a lot of negative stereotypes about a certain religion that people sometimes quantify as "being cheap or running the entertainment business". I caught myself more than one or two times thinking of the stereotypes, not positively, especially when there was lots of underhanded things being done by Rosen. Actually felt bad about doing this but that was the unexpected issue. But I digress from my own thoughts, I would love a follow-up book that focused on Clear Channel years after about 2012 where the book kind of ends based on it being slightly older book. I would love to hear more about Clear Channel and how they became iHeartRadio because I believe at one point Clear Channel's Q rating was something like 0% because everybody hated them so much that they changed the iHeartRadio which is basically still the same company. I don't know personally if they have spun off Ticketmaster or anything along those lines but I would love to hear more or read more. once again very interesting read with some strange consequences.
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on June 5, 2012
I've seen 1000 concerts and I'm only exaggerating a little. My first was AC/DC (sixth grade). This book is for everyone who wants to know why all the good seats are gone even if you're first in line, about how much artists are making when they play a big show, and how to fail in business by not recognizing who your customers really are. And Irv Azoff... easy to know but hard to define. A+
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VINE VOICEon November 16, 2014
Authors Dean Budnick and Josh Baron have written an in depth history of computerized ticket sales from the simple beginnings in the mid-1960s to the behemoth that 800 lb gorilla of the industry Ticketmaster (Live Nation) is today. As the subtitle implies, their story is much more interesting an nuanced because it is not just about ticket sales per se, but how promotors, concert venues, entourages and more are mixed up into the witches brew of the concert industry. Although, it has never been easier to purchase a ticket online (although being on the queue in the first 15 nanoseconds before top names sell out), it has also never been so expensive to see your favorite performing artist. Budnick and Baron also explain the economics of the modern concert industry as well, which is at times mind boggling.

This book is extremely thoroughly researched, with a 9 page glossary to help you keep track of the 300 hundred or so cast of characters. The authors were able to interview many of the key players in the development of the various legacy companies that merged into what is Ticketmaster today. The quotes from them provide key insight into both what they were thinking at the time of key developments but how accurate they were from the view of hindsight today. They patiently explain the technologies that underlie various changes, the competing companies at each point in time, the bands that try to buck trends, or create their own ones, and more.

Also documented are the congressional investigations into the monopolistic practices which seem to have not been able to stick to this teflon industry.

This meticulous book helps explain how the ticket and promotion industry got to where it is today, with a few large players, and high prices. It is a fascinating ride. Although the details can get heady at times, if you soldier through, an unparalleled view is your reward.
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on February 1, 2013
This book does an excellent job of showing the foundation of the ticketing industry as it grew throughout the 20th century. The book also details the mergers, acquisitions, and key players that were eventually gobbled up by Clear Channel, Live Nation, and TicketMaster. Beyond just ticketing, this book really shows you how and why the concert industry has developed in the way that it has. I would recommend this for anyone who is interested in concert promotion, the concert industry, management and venue operations, artist relations, and additional revenue streams in the industry.
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on June 15, 2011
It may not be a high wire adventure but this book methodically explains concert ticketing from the days of hard tickets to today's computerized world and its bevy of extra surcharges. If you really want to understand that "service charge" and why the price varies so much from artist to artist, read this book, but be prepared to have a bit less warm fuzzy enthusiasm for your favorite superstar.
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on March 1, 2013
I had to read this book for a class. While it wasn't the most well written book I've ever read (they tend to jump around a lot with names, CEOs, owners, etc) it was definitely a very informative book. It gave me a lot of insight on the industry, and, as much as I hate to say it, I can no longer give Ticketmaster/Live Nation 100% of the blame after reading it. I still believe they own most of that blame though! Interesting read for those wanting a look into the world of scalpers/secondary ticketing markets, the things being done to prevent said scalpers, and the controversy of secondary ticketing markets/outlets such as StubHub.
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on July 9, 2011
The authors have done a good job of interviewing and highlighting the various parts of the ticketing industry. Some of the anecdotes such as the Grateful Dead Woolly Freaks are pretty good as well as TicketMaster's Fred Rosen's personality is insightful.

What this book lacks is an analysis of how the public gets scalped. There are words toward that peppered across the book, but the authors could have created a chapter that lays out say on a pie chart how a ticket price is divided among the many parts and why they say the public is getting scalped and how it should be dealt.

Ultimately, the book leans towards the fact that its the artists who are the monopoly (atleast the big ones) so they can set whatever price they think the fan will bear. (Rolling Stones are a good example of that)

Nobody wants the government regulating this industry, but at the same time, the industry is preventing true marketplaces such as Stubhub etc to set the price. Let the market determine the price of a ticket.
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on May 18, 2013
To how and why tickets are not available 10 seconds after they are officially on sale, AND MORE!!! Well written and thoroughly researched book that was incredibly interesting and informative. If you are interested in this topic then this book will not disappoint.
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