Metallica Rep and Live Nation Conspired on Ticket Scheme
A representative for Metallica colluded with Live Nation to place thousands of concert tickets directly on the resale market, according to a new report.
The evidence comes in the form of a taped conversation shared with Billboard. On the call, Metallica associate Tony DiCoiccio and Live Nation president of U.S. concerts Bob Roux are heard discussing the plan in detail.
Billboard reports the recording was made in February 2017, shortly before Metallica launched their WorldWired North American tour. After declaring that "Ticketmaster will not do it," Roux apparently suggested a plan in which “a Live Nation employee or a venue box office basically take these and sell them into a singular account” via the resale market.
"When this happens, 4,600 tickets into a single account, there may be some eyebrows that get raised,” Roux cautions, according to the report. "That's the part I'm trying to figure out with Tony. You want to keep this quiet, but there isn't a good way for the light bulbs not to go off."
A third party on the call, Vaughn Millette – a former executive who now runs an independent concert promotion company – reportedly sent the recording to Live Nation executives and board members on June 27 “to alert them of information he had collected while working with the company as a business partner.” Billboard then acquired the recording from “a source close to Live Nation.”
Though it is not illegal to move tickets directly to the resale market, where prices routinely soar beyond face value, artists often avoid doing so for fear of being perceived as greedy. With this information coming to light, Live Nation has admitted to transferring concert tickets to resellers on numerous occasions over several years. The concert conglomerate noted that these actions were always done at the request of the artists or their representation.
“About a dozen artists out of the thousands we work with asked us to do this [between 2016 and 2017]," Live Nation said in a statement. "Since then, requests like these have declined virtually to zero as tools like dynamic pricing, platinum seats and VIP packages have proven to be more effective at recapturing value previously lost to the secondary market. Standard practice is to [now] use Ticketmaster's Platinum, VIP and other tools to help tours price closer to true market value. In this situation, a consultant for [Metallica] opted to use the secondary market to try to capture that value.”
According to Live Nation, DiCioccio realized how much money could be made on the resale market after the band's 2016 concert in Minneapolis, where more than 10,000 tickets were sold "on the secondary market without the band's participation."
"After seeing the volume of secondary transactions for that show and the benefit being captured by brokers," Live Nation said in the statement, "the independent consultant [DiCioccio] worked with Live Nation on a unique distribution strategy that used the secondary market as a sales distribution channel for select high-end tickets."
According to Billboard's report, Roux and Millette conspired to resell up to 4,400 tickets per show for 20 Metallica concerts on the WorldWired North American tour. For each show, Millette would be given access to 2,640 premium tickets and 1,780 so-called “troubled” seats, those difficult to sell because they are far from the stage or only have a partial view.
Revenue from the deal would be split among the various parties, with 40 percent going to Metallica, 40 percent to Live Nation, 12 percent to DiCioccio and 8 percent to Millette. A separate source claimed Live Nation’s share was lower. Though Millette worked to sell to sell more than 88,000 tickets over a six month period, Billbord claims that he ultimately lost money on the deal. Metallica’s tour ended up grossing $111 million in 2017.
Metallica reps said they were unaware of DiCoiccio’s dealings with Live Nation. He has been a long-tenured associate of the group and is currently employed directly by Metallica as a ticketing consultant. When asked how close DiCoiccio is with the band, a Metallica rep told Billboard, "If there's five seats on the jet flying home, it's the band and Tony.”