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A California bill is targeting Ticketmaster, but musicians are concerned that they could also be impacted

CALIFORNIA — A California legislator has proposed a bill to challenge ticketing giant Ticketmaster, but some music artists are cautioning that this bill will give power to ticket scalpers.

CALIFORNIA — A bill introduced by a California lawmaker aims to confront the major ticketing company Ticketmaster, but some music artists are cautioning that the bill could end up benefiting ticket scalpers instead.

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, has put forward Assembly Bill 2808, which, if approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom, would be the first law of its kind across the country, according to Wicks.

Wicks stated, “The goal is to completely change how live event tickets are sold, by enhancing competition during the initial ticket sales, which is the primary point of sale.”

She noted that Ticketmaster has control over 80% of first-time ticket sales in the U.S., and that ticket prices have increased by 140% since Ticketmaster merged with LiveNation in 2010.

Wicks explained, “The impact of these high prices is worsened by a flawed and frustrating system where people can spend hours trying to buy a ticket.”

Wicks explained that her bill would provide consumers with more options for purchasing tickets. This would be achieved by mandating that “ticketing enterprise providers” like Ticketmaster enable authorized ticket sellers to offer both initial and secondary tickets for sale. It would also forbid any attempts to restrict the transfer or resale of tickets, with a potential fine of up to $2,500 for each violation.

“Ultimately, it’s quite fundamental. It's a basic principle of capitalism. When there's more competition, the product improves,” she said.

Various organizations, including the Consumer Federation of California, the California Black Chamber of Commerce, California LULAC, and the National Action Network, as well as musician Jay King, are backing the bill.

Jay King stated in a release, “Whether you're an artist, a venue, or a fan, you should have options. AB 2808 offers those options.”

The bill, which is scheduled to be discussed by the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports and Tourism Committee later this spring, is already facing opposition.

Following the introduction of the bill, Ticketmaster issued a statement: “We support reforms to enhance ticketing, but AB 2808 will not achieve that. Instead, it would undermine the efforts of artists, sports teams, and primary ticketing companies to reduce ticket scalping. Requiring artists and venues to provide their intellectual property and tickets to secondary websites is a dream for ticket scalpers. AB2808 gives more power to ticket resellers by preventing any form of price control that artists can use, including face value exchanges.”

A coalition of organizations, including the Recording Industry Association of America and SAG-AFTRA, sent a letter to lawmakers expressing opposition to the bill.

The letter stated, “AB 2808 was created and introduced without consulting or involving artists, venues, or the wider music community. Its main impact would be to diminish artist control over ticketing for their events; raise prices for their fans by outlawing successful consumer affordability options; and ensure that ticket scalpers, resellers, and illegal bots can obtain and sell the majority of seats at unregulated, exorbitant prices.”

Ron Gubitz, head of the Music Artists Coalition, which supports music creators, told The Bee that AB 2808 will disrupt the bond between artists and their fans.

“This will remove artists’ control over how tickets are sold and resold to fans,” he said.

He cautioned that with Wicks’ law, “numerous sites could sell the same ticket simultaneously.”

Gubitz mentioned that his group is arranging a meeting with Wicks to discuss how the bill can be revised.

During her press conference, Wicks stated that she is open to discussions with the opposition and that she plans to speak with every lawmaker on the committee about the bill.

“I never assume anything. I put in the work for my bills,” she said.

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