Neil Young Declares “Touring Is Broken” Due to Ticketmaster Controversy

Neil Young is one of many artists publicly criticizing Ticketmaster for their long held monopoly on concert ticket sales. In a March 19 post on his Neil Young Archives website titled “Concert Touring Is Broken,” the singer-songwriter decried the company’s high ticket prices and ticket fees, which have reached up to 30% for some artists.

“It’s over. The old days are gone,” Young wrote in the post, adding: “I get letters blaming me for $3,000 tickets for a benefit I am doing. That money does not go to me or the benefit. Artists have to worry about ripped off fans blaming them for Ticketmaster add-ons and scalpers. Concert tours are no longer fun. Concert tours not what they were.”

The post also features a news article by Ananya Bhattacharya discussing the Cure’s recent dilemma with Ticketmaster; namely, that their fans were subjected to high fees during the band’s “Verified Fan” sale for their upcoming tour. “I am as sickened as you all are by today’s Ticketmaster ‘fees’ debacle,” frontman Robert Smith tweeted about the subject on March 15. “To be very clear: The artist has no way to limit them. I have been asking how they are justified. If I get anything coherent by way of an answer I will let you all know.”

The following day, Smith tweeted that “after further conversation, Ticketmaster have agreed with us that many of the fees being charged are unduly high, and as a gesture of goodwill have offered a $10 per ticket refund to all ‘Verified Fan’ accounts for lowest ticket price (‘LTP’) transactions.” He also wrote that Ticketmaster would give a $5 refund to “Verified Fan” accounts for other ticket transactions, and noted that tickets on sale the next day would have reduced fees.

After years of dominating the event ticketing market, Ticketmaster has been the target of overwhelming criticism lately—from artists, fans, and even government officials. Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour on-sale date was canceled during a fiasco that overwhelmed Ticketmaster’s website and shut out a number of fans from buying tickets. Several of those fans sued the company the company as a result.

Ticketmaster is also facing a Senate hearing and an antitrust investigation for abuse of power helmed by the Justice Department (the investigation also targets Live Nation Entertainment—the company formed after Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010).

Neil Young has frequently used his platform to criticize mammoth companies. Last year, he posted a letter on Neil Young Archives demanding that his music be removed from Spotify, claiming it spreads “fake information about vaccines—potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them.” (His letter referred to Joe Rogan, who has been accused of spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines.)

Spotify complied with Young’s request and removed his music days later. The platform also stated that they removed “over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.” Young later urged Spotify employees to quit their jobs

More recently, Young seemed to critique Beck’s cover of “Old Man,” which was released as an NFL-sponsored clip before the 2023 Super Bowl. After Beck’s cover aired, Young posted a still from his anti-sponsorship video for the 1988 song “This Note’s for You.” In the image, Young holds a bottle labeled “SPONSORED BY NOBODY.”

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