15 January 2018 | Community

“You charge me to sell me something”: Everything you need to know about ticket fees

The lowdown on ticket fees and what Vibe is doing to make a difference


Written by Daniel Gould

Ticket fees: always a hot topic and one that fans, media outlets, MP’s and even The Simpsons have waded in on in the past. Why do they exist, where do they end up and are they necessary?

The tale goes back to 1982 when Fredric Rosen joined Ticketmaster as chief executive. He devised a new strategy in order to beat the competition at the time. Instead of charging venues to sell tickets, he added a service charge onto each ticket and split the take with the venue. The venue had a new revenue stream and the consumer paid the price. Consumers weren’t happy, and 36 years later not much has changed….

Fast-forward to 2018 and you’ll be paying £65.75 for a £55.00 Harry Styles ticket. £41.78 for a £35.00 Bill Bailey ticket. Fees of over 19%! And both are e-tickets no less! This is surely daylight robbery.

Let’s delve a little deeper and try to justify this madness….

What makes up the price of a ticket?

On Average for a £100 ticket:

Talent Fees: £73.00

Show Costs: £20.00

Tax: £5.00

Promoter Margin: £2.00

Most of the ticket price goes back to the talent, and the promoter makes next to nothing. The ticketing company can’t take its fee from the face value because the promoter’s margin is simply too small to be able to give the ticketing company any of it. In order to run their business, the ticketing company adds on a booking fee to each ticket. A fee, by the way, that is also shared with the promoter no less.

So what happens in the secondary ticket market?

Let’s move onto secondary ticketing. These platforms are marketplaces that allow fans to buy and sell tickets between each other where they cannot attend an event. These tickets have already been purchased from the primary market and thus are classified as ‘resale’ tickets. The traditional marketplaces charge average seller fees of 12% and buyer fees of 15% with an additional £10 for shipping. That’s 40% average total fees - HAS THE WORLD GONE BARKING MAD? £10 to ship an envelope – Come again?!

"You may think the fees go back to the artist or cover show costs as they do above - but you’d be wrong. Very wrong."

You may think the fees go back to the artist or cover show costs as they do above - but you’d be wrong. Very wrong. They all go back to the ticketing marketplace as profit. Risk-free, profit. Straight into their bank account. The justification for the fees is that the platforms provide a safe and secure method to buy and sell tickets. They also provide those selling tickets with a vast marketing reach, and buyers with a huge selection of inventory to choose from. But all this for 40% fees? Other marketplace models don’t charge anywhere close. Criminal.

And the cherry on the proverbial cake: this ticket can be sold over and over and over again on the same site. That’s 40% + 40% + 40%. Oh, and it might have already been sold on a primary site that owns one of the secondary sites so add another 19% on top of that. Perhaps Homer Simpson did do the right thing.

What is Vibe doing to make a difference? 

At Vibe we’re committed to putting an end to this needless chain of booking fees in the secondary ticket market. Fans shouldn’t be exploited for seeing their favourite artist, and that’s why we’ll never charge for fan to fan transactions in our app. 

All fans should be able to buy and sell to each other free of charge, and by removing these barriers we’re working towards an industry where fans can connect with each other directly and put themselves back in the driving seat.