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Zach Bryan Returns to Ticketmaster: ’One Guy Can’t Change the Whole System’

zach-bryan-ticketmaster.jpg Festival d'été de Québec - Credit: Barry Brecheisen/WireImage
zach-bryan-ticketmaster.jpg Festival d'été de Québec - Credit: Barry Brecheisen/WireImage

Zach Bryan’s battle against Ticketmaster appears to be over.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the “I Remember Everything” singer announced on Tuesday that for his upcoming Quittin’ Time Tour, he will be using all ticketing sites — including Ticketmaster. The decision walks back his ticketing strategy for his recently completed Burn, Burn, Burn Tour, which largely cut out Ticketmaster in an effort to address fan frustrations regarding the company and the ticketing marketplace as a whole.

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“Everyone complained about AXS last year. Using all ticketing sites this year,” Bryan, who topped Billboard’s Album and Hot 100 charts for the first time this week, wrote. “All my homies still do hate Ticketmaster but hard to realize one guy can’t change the whole system. It is intentionally broken and I’ll continue to feel absolutely horrible about the cost of tickets in an unfair market.”

Not long after the infamous controversy over Ticketmaster’s handling of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, Bryan announced at the end of last year that he would avoid working with the company, and instead tickets were listed on AXS, owned by Live Nation’s largest competitor AEG. (He even titled his live album All My Homies Hate Ticketmaster.)

“I have met kids at my shows who have paid upwards of four-hundred bucks to be there and I’m done with it,” Bryan tweeted last December. It should be noted that artists typically set their own ticket prices, and it’s unclear whether Bryan was talking about prices on his official sale or from resellers. “I’ve decided to play a limited number of headline shows next year to which I’ve done all I can to make prices as cheap as possible and to prove to people tickets don’t have to cost $450 to see a good and honest show. I’m so tired of people saying things can’t be done about this massive issue while huge monopolies sit there stealing money from working class people.”

Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, had received far more than just Bryan’s scorn: It also faced a DOJ investigation over alleged anticompetitive practices. The company was grilled for hours during a Senate judiciary hearing earlier this year regarding competition in the live-music industry. Live Nation has repeatedly denied it operates as a monopoly and instead has pushed for ticketing reform focused on higher regulation of the secondary market and giving artists more power over their tickets.

Outside of issues on the primary market, to try and stop price gouging from scalpers on resale, Bryan opted to make his tickets non-transferable. Fans had to use a special fan-to-fan exchange hosted on AXS that only allowed customers to sell tickets at face value. (Some resale sites listed those tickets anyway.)

Bryan also didn’t appear to use so-called “dynamic pricing,” which often leads to significant price increases as ticket prices are modified to reflect demand.

Those strategies — which to be fair, are also available for artists on Ticketmaster — can give artists with fast-selling shows more control over keeping their ticket prices affordable; Bryan said in February that not one ticket was sold for more than $156, including fees and tax. But the strategy makes getting tickets outside of the official on-sale much harder, since tickets can’t be listed elsewhere. Many fans had voiced frustration after the on-sale earlier this year, though it’s unclear if those are the complaints Bryan referred to in his new tweet. (A rep for Bryan declined to comment further on the matter.)

Bryan isn’t the only artist who tried addressing the ticketing problems for their shows. Robert Smith and The Cure employed a similar strategy with Ticketmaster for their recent North American tour, making tickets non-transferable and opting out of platinum-ticket prices. They had some issues too: Fees on some purchases were greater than the ticket prices themselves. Smith was particularly vocal online about those problems, and Ticketmaster offered small refunds.

Those problems aside, like Bryan, The Cure had instituted changes in their concerts hoping to make a deeply broken and frustrating system better for fans. As Bryan appears to have acknowledged today, even with all those efforts, that’s not enough to stop fans from being disappointed if they miss out.

Smith felt likewise. Before The Cure’s on-sale, he wrote: “The reality is that if there aren’t enough tickets on sale, a number of fans are going to miss out whatever system we use.”

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