Live Nation=Free Nation? Not Really

June 1, 2009


In an effort to ease the burden on music fans in these difficult economic times--and to sell some of the extra lawn seats that have been slow to move this summer concert season--the Chicago office of giant national concert promoter Live Nation has announced a plan to forego service fees for tickets purchased on Wednesdays.

"No Service Fee Wednesdays" begin at 12:01 a.m. on June 3rd for tickets purchased via As the company's press release puts it, "Throughout the rest of the summer, Live Nation becomes Free-Nation as it offers savings on concert tickets for hundreds of shows and millions of fans."

Well, "Free-Nation" is more than a bit of an exaggeration. Service fees will be waived only for lawn seats at Live Nation's two big local sheds, the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park and the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisc. (For some reason, perhaps because it's owned by the city and only operated by Live Nation, the Charter One Pavilion on Northerly Island is excluded.)

Service fees remain intact for the more costly pavilion seats at both venues.

Here's how a typical ticket breaks down: Lawn seats for Nickelback in Tinley Park are on sale now for $28.50. tacks on $6 per ticket for parking (an injustice if numerous people carpool, since each ticket buyer still pays $6, bring the cost for six to park amid the acres of empty gravel fields to $36).

Also added on: $1 "for charity" and a $12.10 ticket fee.

The latter fee is waived, but that $28.50 ticket still costs you $35.50. Thankfully, in contrast to the giant national ticket broker Ticketmaster, does not charge you extra to print the ticket out with your own home computer.

Live Nation execs say that in addition to priming the pump for summer concert ticket sales, they wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to do something that wouldn't have been possible in the past when the company sold all of its tickets through Ticketmaster. "We wanted to do something that had never been done before," said Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino.

Live Nation broke from Ticketmaster early this year and began selling tickets to its shows on its own. But shortly thereafter, the two concert giants announced a plan to merge.

Roundly criticized throughout the music industry, the merger is pending approval from the Department of Justice--which may just want to consider whether even a minor price break such as this one could or would be part of the proposed Live Nation Entertainment super-company.