Live Nation Entertainment, the global concert giant that owns Ticketmaster, announced a program on Friday to offer refunds and coupons for canceled and postponed shows, after weeks of criticism online and growing pressure from lawmakers.
According to Live Nation’s plan, which starts May 1, people can obtain refunds for canceled or rescheduled shows. Like another plan instituted this week by AEG Presents, Live Nation’s biggest corporate rival, refunds for postponed shows will be available for 30 days once new dates have been set. For events that already have new dates, customers’ 30-day refund window will start May 1.
Live Nation has also offered incentives for its customers to hold on to their tickets — and therefore let the company to hold on to revenue. For canceled shows, Live Nation is offering its customers credits worth 150 percent of their tickets’ value to use on future events.
Customers who decide to go to shows when they are rescheduled will also receive credits, but for lesser amounts that may vary for each event. Live Nation’s program applies only to events in the United States.
News of Live Nation’s new program was first reported by Billboard.
After the concert world ground to a halt last month, Live Nation and Ticketmaster came under intense criticism for their slow response to refund requests. Ticketmaster was also attacked for changing the language on its website about its refund process, although the company said its underlying policy, in effect for years, had not changed.
But the company said Friday that its plan was not a response to the criticism and had been in the works for days as part of an effort to address the unique market conditions brought on by the pandemic.
This week, a New York state senator, James Skoufis, announced an investigation into the business practices of ticketing companies, including Ticketmaster, and asked the New York attorney general to open an investigation into the company.
On Friday, two Democratic members of Congress — Katie Porter, of California, and Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, a longtime critic of Ticketmaster and Live Nation — called on the companies to refund fans’ money.
“With Americans weathering the brutal and continuing impacts of this global crisis, your decision to confiscate their money is reprehensible and should be reversed immediately,” the Congressmen wrote in a letter to Live Nation and Ticketmaster officials.
In response, Jared Smith, the company’s president, told the legislators that Ticketmaster “intends to honor our longstanding practice of allowing refunds on canceled or postponed shows,” according to a copy of the letter that Ticketmaster furnished to the news media.
In his letter, Mr. Smith also shared some data about the scale of the problem facing Ticketmaster. For some 30,000 events that have already been postponed or canceled as a result of Covid-19, Mr. Smith wrote, Ticketmaster has already sent more than $2 billion in ticketing funds to its clients, like venues and concert promoters, “making it impossible to issue refunds to fans before recouping sales receipts from the organizers, as we’ve done in the past.”
Those numbers will likely grow, however, as more tours are pulled. On Friday, Taylor Swift announced that she would move all her concerts for this year to 2021, and talent agents and industry executives say that many more are expected to follow in coming months.