Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Live Nation’s Club Passport Is a Scam

[by Lucid Culture’s chief cook and bottle washer]

When I was a kid, my family went through a hiking phase. I must have been about nine when they first became obsessed with it. By the time I was twelve, I’d been to the top of most of the smaller mountains in New England. One of the first was a humble little peak in New Hampshire called Red Hill. It barely qualifies as a mountain, but assuming it hasn’t been bulldozed for McMansions, it’s probably as good a place as any to show a fourth grader how much fun it is to set out for the summit hoping there’s water somewhere along the way. The day I was there, so was the fire warden, who had a peculiar sense of humor. He gave me a ticket which read, “This is a free ticket from the top of Red Hill. It’s not good for anything. It’s just free.” Same deal with the Live Nation Club Passport – except that it’s a scam that’s probably illegal. With a passport like this, you might as well stay home. And call the Department of Consumer Fraud at your State Attorney General’s office while you’re at it.

For the first time in music history, here’s a ticket that won’t get you into the show you just paid for. “Introducing the Live Nation Club Passport, – see unlimited club shows for remainder of 2009 for just $50, all-in, no fees, limited time offer.”

Yeah right. See below.

As the fine print says, purchase of this ticket DOES NOT GUARANTEE YOU ENTRY.

Now wait a minute – that’s what a ticket is, isn’t it? A voucher that proves you purchased a seat or a space at a show, that proves you’re not trying to sneak in?

No. This ticket costs you $50 but it won’t get you in anywhere. It’s a glorified CMJ pass, except that the bands at CMJ are way better, which is pretty depressing. What Live Nation is trying to do is A) get your personal info so they can spam you about a million overpriced shows you’d never want to see and B) fulfill the task known in club circles as “papering the house.” See, no club owner wants to look foolish when nobody shows up and the band plays to an empty house. Now combine the depression with overpriced concert tickets and the picture becomes clear – other than shows at small, reasonably priced clubs and a few jam band gigs, people simply aren’t going out anymore in numbers like they used to. So to avoid looking foolish and getting bad press, wannabe-monopoly concert promoters Live Nation and their soon-to-be-sister firm TicketBastard are dumping cheap tickets by the truckload for shows that are selling badly. To take one recent example, wish you’d seen AC/DC in Foxboro, MA? You could have. For free. Once you get out of the small clubs, it’s amazing to watch the corporate rock world imploding before your eyes.

But the Live Nation Club Passport is a complete ripoff. First of all, you can’t even use it as a ticket, which if for some reason you couldn’t attend an event, you could sell or give to a friend. The Club Passport is non-transferable and requires that you show photo ID when attempting to enter a venue. Secondly, you have to attempt to reserve admission to the show you want to see before 4 PM the day of the show – when you will learn whether your reservation has been accepted OR REJECTED. See, Live Nation reserves the right not to let you in because they think there are a few more full-price ticket buyers out there. Of course, the Live Nation website encourages you to show up at the venue right before showtime and then try to get in.

But what if they still won’t let you in? Isn’t that fraud?

If you read the fine print, you’ll see plenty of other nasty nickel-and-dime rules. For example, what if you’re a diehard fan who wants to see a band at the club in your hometown and then at a Live Nation venue in an adjacent state? No way. They’ll only accept your Club Passport in your home state.

Realistically speaking, people everywhere are doing the same thing as Live Nation and TicketBastard: realizing they can’t afford the concert they stupidly shelled all that money for, they’re unloading their tickets on craigslist, facebook, the bulletin board at your local laundromat…pretty much everywhere. And you may want to see “Andrew Bird, the Mars Volta, Dragonforce, All Time Low, Common, Pitbull, Trey Songz, Psychedelic Furs, and many others,” as Live Nation’s site advertises, but a check of available Club Passport shows at New York’s Irving Plaza and Gramercy Theatre revealed that those aren’t available. Can anybody say “bait and switch?” Still,  if you’d like to see once-popular 90s ska-punk band Bowling For Soup, actress Juliette Lewis – who’s also apparently a singer  – or the Sam Roberts Band – oh boy, can’t wait! – and don’t mind paying $50 for the privilege, the Club Passport is probably right up your alley. In fact, if you added Craig Owens of screamo band Choidos to the list, your Club Passport would almost pay for itself. Assuming, of course, that you weren’t denied admission to those shows – and you know that the day Craig Owens of Choidos sells out a club will be a cold day in hell.

Comments from consumers and law enforcement are invited, just use the comments button below.

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September 18, 2009 Posted by | concert, Culture, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment