Michael Jackson, AEG Live and the Great Ticket Scandal
Note from Bonnie Vent: This has come up many times over the past few years. Leonard Rowe spoke about this publicly. He claims that Michael Jackson had asked his Dad, Joe Jackson, to attend a meeting and to get this straightened out. Some may question whether this practice violates any laws but it does exploit the fans and the artist. The artist receives no additional income from this practice. The promoters however, receive the lion share of the profits 80 to 90% while forcing fans to pay many times over the face value of the ticket in order to attend. Although AEG Live is not mentioned specifically in the documentary they did indeed engage in the practice for the "This is It" concert dates at the O2 Arena in London. The O2 Arena is also owned by AEG Live. A tout is an english term that means the same thing as a scalper does in the US. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ticket_resale
I found another interesting piece of information in the last article. I did not know that an expanded version of Billie Jean was going to open the show. As you may recall lyrics from Billie Jean is what Michael first used to identify himself to me.
Special thanks to Irina for locating this important article. It comes directly from the Viagogo website and special thanks to the people who put together the above documentary.
£500 for Michael Jackson comeback show tickets as promoter in secret deal
Patrick Foster, Dan Sabbagh and Adam Sherwin.
March 12, 2009
Fans desperate to see Michael Jackson's comeback performances could have to pay more than ten times the face value of the tickets after the shows' promoters struck a secret deal to sell the best seats at vastly inflated prices, The Times has learnt.
AEG Live, the company behind the concerts, has agreed with Viagogo, an online ticket reseller, to sell hundreds of so-called premium tickets for each performance at the 17,000-capacity O2 arena, in East London, at about £500 each, compared with their face value of between £50 and £75.
The move means that both AEG Live and Viagogo stand to make huge extra financial returns, while reducing the availability and standard of seats to those fans trying to buy seats through the official, "primary" route, via the Ticketmaster website.
About 10,000 tickets for each of the ten concerts announced last week went on sale yesterday morning on Ticketmaster to fans who had registered their interest on Jackson's website. However, demand was so high that the website crashed, leading the promoters to announce another 20 dates - which also quickly sold out. It is thought that nearly 300,000 seats have been sold so far. The remaining tickets for each show will go on sale tomorrow.
But The Times understands that outside the official sale of the tickets, AEG Live approached secondary ticketing companies - which allow people to resell tickets to sporting and music events - offering to provide them directly with between 500 and 1,000 tickets for each performance.
It is thought that AEG Live offered the tickets on the understanding that they were sold at about £500 each, with 80 per cent of the revenue returning to AEG Live and the secondary ticketing company taking the remaining 20 per cent.
Last night tickets for seats closest to the stage were on sale on Viagogo for thousands of pounds. Other seats in prime locations seemed to be on sale at surprisingly uniform rates, with many priced at £418 and £659.
AEG Live did not deny its links to Viagogo. The company previously said in a statement: "In an effort to ensure fans are able to purchase premium tickets and exchange tickets directly with other fans, AEG Live has entered into an agreement with Viagogo. The online site allows people to buy and sell live event tickets in a safe and guaranteed way."
A source close to AEG Live said: "This is the hottest ticket of the decade. To suggest that there won't be a premium market is unrealistic. We want to make sure it is done properly and fans are not buying the tickets in some dodgy back alley. This is only a small minority of tickets. The aim all along has been to make sure that the majority of the arena is filled with real fans. There are systems in place to make sure people cannot buy multiple tickets and sell them on."
Concert promoters have previously been against the secondary ticketing companies, which they accuse of promoting touting and depriving the live music industry of income.
AEG Live could face censure from the Concert Promoters Association, of which it is a member, if it is judged to have brought the organisation into disrepute through its actions.
Last month the Government announced a consultation into ticket touting and urged concert organisers to be innovative and come up with new ways of preventing touts from making money from selling on tickets.
Fans who signed up for ticket updates received an email last night saying: "We have now sold out of the presale ticket allocation for 30 shows. Michael Jackson has agreed to add more shows." It is understood that the O2 has set aside 50 dates for Jackson if the demand exists.
Tickets for Michael Jackson's shows in London have sold out, organisers said.
Thousands of the star's fans queued through Thursday night outside the O2 Arena, with many more jamming phone lines in the hope of securing a ticket.
Organiser AEG Live confirmed the 50 This Is It shows sold out late on Friday morning.
Jackson, who has returned to the US for rehearsals, is said to be 'ecstatic' about the way the shows had been received.
The organisers said about 500,000 tickets, priced between £50 and £75, plus booking fees, have been snapped up.
About 360,000 pre-sale tickets had already been sold for the arena dates - at a rate of 333 a minute.
Hundreds of Michael Jackson fans queued at the O2 Arena, having camped out for the tickets which cost £50-£75
Friends Ava Zadkhorvash and Ayesha Obi, were first in the queue for tickets. The girls, both from London, have been queuing since midweek
The 02 Arena was swamped by hundreds of Michael Jackson fans who queued overnight to buy tickets for his farewell tour which went on general sale at 7am today.
Around 500 people from all over the world were queuing up to buy tickets for Jackson's summer shows, which he has said will be his last.
Ava Zadkhorvash and Ayesha Obi were first in the queue at The O2 Arena and secured tickets shortly after they went on sale at 7am.
She picked up two front row seats for the opening night after queuing for 37 hours outside the venue.
The 19-year-old Michael Jackson fan burst into tears as she bought the first ticket to go on general release for the king of pop's summer shows at the 02 Arena.
Ava Zadkhorvash and Ayesha Obi stand first in the queue for Michael Jackson tickets, which went on sale this morning at 7am at the O2 in London
Ayesha from Lewisham, London said she was: 'stunned' after knowing she would finally get to see her idol perform live.
She said: 'He is a legend. He is amazing, I can't believe I'm actually going to see him and have got front row seats. I'm so happy that's why I started crying.'
She said she had no regrets about queuing for two days without any washing facilities, calling the whole experience 'totally worth it'.
'I'm going with my friend Hayley. I'm just stunned. Michael Jackson is a legend, I love his message.'
The teenager, who had brought a tent to camp outside this London venue, was queuing with friend Ava Zadkhorvash, 17, who she met five years ago when they both carried out demonstrations about Jackson's arrest.
The 17-year-old from Eltham, was second to buy the coveted tickets.
She said: 'I got four for the opening night. I can't believe it, front row tickets.
'It means everything to me. I've never seen him before and I thought I would be at the back.
Jackonmania: Fans passed the time by catching up on all news Michael Jackon related
Irony: Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker - who famously had a run in with Michael Jackson at The Brit Awards - looms large in the background as fans queue
'I'm gonna put them in a frame, lock it up and put it in the basement, I'm not going to let anyone touch them.
'I'm gonna be right in front of him. He's so beautiful, so sexy. I love him.'
Ben Crow, 22, from Guildford, also queued from Wednesday to secure seats.
The retail assistant said he was surprising his mother and father and fiance, Amy Hastings, 20, with tickets.
Mr Crow, who was third in line said: 'I'm immensely excited. I did not know I would get front row tickets and it's a surprise for my fiancé and my mum and dad.
'I don't think he will do all 50 shows - I think he can dance but I don't think he can sing as well. I knew the earlier I got down here the better the seats would be and we could get opening night, which is gonna be the best.'
Fans camped out overnight at The O2 in Greenwich before tickets went on sale at 7am
Fans, including Michael Jackson impersonator Carl Jackson, seated front left, wait for Michael Jackson concert tickets
Desperate fans were spending the day in lines trying to get seats for Jackson's shows, entertaining themselves by singing some of his best known songs and chanting his name.
Outside the venue, Randy Phillips, President and CEO of AEG Live, the promoters who secured Jackson's residency, said the star would make between £50 and £100 million.
He said Jackson was 'excited' about the prospect of doing the shows, but they had seriously underestimated the demand.
Man in demand: Some fans have been queuing since earlier this week
He said: 'This has made us recession-proof for the next two years. We organised 10 shows but we we're not sure what the demand would be - but we really misjudged it.
'We could sell more than one million tickets. We could have kept going. We could have done 150 shows as people would go more than one time.
Michael Jackson stopped by store after a visit to the Medical Centre in Beverly Hills
'He (Michael Jackson) is fantastic. He is physically and mentally ready to get back in the game.
'I'm not gonna pretend the money is not a factor, but he is really doing it for the kids - they are old enough and he is young enough to still do it the way he did before.'
Yesterday it was announced the singer would extend his original 10-date comeback tour to an astonishing 50 nights despite mounting fears over his health.
The 50-year-old singer, who was seen being pushed around in a wheelchair last year, will begin his residency at London's O2 Arena in July and continue for eight months until February.
He had initially announced just ten dates at a press conference last week.
However, due to an overwhelming demand from fans for tickets, promoters have added 40 more shows over the past two days.
He will not be performing on consecutive nights at any point during the lucrative tour and will have a three-month break between October and December.
Organisers AEG Live have been forced to take out a huge insurance policy on the star - which is worth almost £100million - in case he falls ill at any point and is unable to complete the tour.
He was also forced to undergo a four-hour medical by promoters, which they say he 'passed with flying colours'.
However, his last live performance at the World Music Awards in 2006 saw him leave the stage after singing just a couple of lines.
Jackson's biographer, Ian Halperin, has also said he doesn't believe the singer is ready to perform.
Making a night of it: Fans brought board games to help pass the time
In December he claimed the star was battling a disease that had left him partially blind and in need of a lung transplant. This was vehemently denied by Jackson's spokesman.
Earlier this month, Halperin said: 'Arguably he is one of the greatest performers ever, but he hasn't performed in years and the jury's still out.
'If he gets up on stage and gives a stellar performance, I'll be the first guy clapping on my feet. All I'm saying is beware.'
Tickets went on sale on Wednesday morning, many of which were immediately snapped up by touts who then demanded up to £3,000 on auction sites such as eBay and Seatwave.
Face value had been set by AEG Live at between £50 and £75 on Jackson's official website.
Initially, online retailer Ticketmaster had been the only company officially distributing tickets. However, AEG Live then secured a deal with Viagogo with seats being sold at vastly inflated prices.
Demand for tickets saw Jackson extend the tour dates from 10 to 50 nights
Viagogo allows buyers to re-sell tickets with a cut of the profit going to the event's organisers. Premium tickets on the site were being sold for almost £700 yesterday.
It is believed that AEG Live directly supplied the website with up to 1,000 tickets.
A spokesman said: 'In an effort to ensure fans are able to purchase premium tickets and exchange tickets directly with other fans, AEG Live has entered into an agreement with Viagogo.
'The online site allows people to buy and sell live event tickets in a safe and guaranteed way.'
Phone lines were constantly jammed while the singer's official website crashed due to the huge amount of fans scrambling to get tickets.
News that the star is extending his tour means he will shatter the previous record for the number of shows performed by an artist at a single venue which was set by Prince, who hosted a 21-date residency at the O2 in 2007.
Michael Jackson fans have been left fuming and out-of-pocket as touts are selling tickets for his comeback tour on the black market for up to £16,000 a pair.
Tickets for the King of Pop's gigs at the O2 Arena in London sold out in just two hours yesterday morning after they were released.
But many were snapped up by ticket touts who are selling them on sites such as eBay and Seatwave, the fan to fan ticket exchange.
Global demand: Fans across the world crashed websites in the race to get tickets to Michael Jackson's London shows, which he announced last week
A pair of VIP tickets for Jackson's first night of his 'final tour' were on sale for £16,000 on eBay this morning. Even tickets for standard seats are available for up to £900 each.
Genuine fans were so keen to get their hands on tickets yesterday that the singer's website crashed under the pressure.
The overwhelming demand to see Jackson forced concert organisers AEG Live to announce a further 18 dates would be added to the tour.
Jackson will now play a record-breaking 37 shows at the O2 Arena, beating Prince's 21 nights in 2007.
Fans will be treated to all of Jackson's greatest hits, including a possible Jackson 5 medley.
Coming soon: An advertisement for Jackson's 'final' shows
The setlist for his concerts includes Thriller, Billie Jean, Smooth Criminal, Man in the Mirror and Beat It.
'He's toying with the idea of doing a Jackson 5 medley as well, and he'll open with a four minute long intro to Billie Jean,' a source told the Daily Mirror.
Jackson says his London shows will be his last ever public performances.
Initially, 100,000 tickets – approximately half those available for his 10 live shows this summer – went on sale to more one million fans who had registered on the star’s website ahead of the sale at 7am.
They had all been snapped up by Jackson’s fans from across the world within 45 minutes.
After the announcement that more shows would be added, another 90,000 tickets were released.
By 9am, all the pre-sale tickets - 190,000 in total - had all been sold.
The remaining tickets will be made available to the public at 7am on Friday morning.
The huge demand for tickets had caused problems for many fans, many of whom were unable to log onto the star’s website at all.
Many who had been given special security codes after registering on the website said they did not work.
However, Chris Edmonds, managing director of Ticketmaster, who are distributing the tickets, had urged fans to ‘keep trying’.
He said: ‘We have witnessed an unprecedented level of demand for the Michael Jackson concerts at the O2.
'Unfortunately, due to an technical issue, we were unable to facilitate all immediate ticket requests.
'Apologies to those fans who are unable to log on.
'This is a situation beyond AEG Live’s control and we immediately took steps to rectify the situation.’
Once pre-sale codes had been emailed out on Thursday, they had begun showing up on auction sites for upwards of £50 as fans scrambled to see the historic shows, which will begin on 8 July.