‘Tours are no longer fun’: Neil Young lambasts Ticketmaster for ripping off fans

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Canadian Press/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Canadian Press/Rex/Shutterstock

Neil Young has lambasted Ticketmaster over its concert ticketing policies, saying “concert tours are no longer fun” due to what he sees as exploitative pricing.

Young wrote on his website:

It’s over. The old days are gone. I get letters blaming me for $3,000 tickets for a benefit I am doing. That money does not go to me or the benefit. Artists have to worry about ripped off fans blaming them for Ticketmaster add-ons and scalpers. Concert tours are no longer fun. Concert tours not what they were.

He also shared a news article about the Cure, the band who have also been highly critical of Ticketmaster.

Frontman Robert Smith told fans he was as “sickened as you all are” over Ticketmaster’s fees for the Cure’s forthcoming US tour – the band had deliberately kept ticket prices low, but in some cases the fees levied by Ticketmaster exceeded the price of a concert ticket.

Related: ‘It’s no good if gigs become the preserve of the posh’ – the crisis facing live music in Britain

After questioning Ticketmaster over the fees, the band announced that the company “have agreed with us that many of the fees being charged are unduly high”. Ticketmaster offered a $10 or $5 refund on tickets, depending on the original price.

The Cure also criticised Ticketmaster over its “dynamic pricing” policy, introduced in the UK in 2022 and used by artists such as Harry Styles and Coldplay, which inflates the price of remaining tickets for in-demand concerts. The Cure opted out of dynamic pricing, calling it “a greedy scam – and all artists have the choice not to participate … if no artists participated, it would cease to exist”.

Bruce Springsteen was criticised for using dynamic pricing last year. He responded: “Ticket buying has gotten very confusing, not just for the fans but for the artists also … I tell my guys: go out and see what everybody else is doing. Let’s charge a little less. That’s generally the directions … This time I told them, hey, we’re 73 years old … I want to do what everybody else is doing, my peers.” He added: “I know it was unpopular with some fans, but if there’s any complaints on the way out, you can have your money back.”

Ticketmaster was criticised by US Senate members of both parties at a hearing in January, with Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar calling the company “a definition of monopoly” after its merger with concert promoter Live Nation in 2010. Louisiana senator John Kennedy characterised the company’s sale of tickets for Taylor Swift’s current Eras tour as “a debacle”: technical glitches and an extensive “presale” period meant that it was impossible for many fans to even have the option of buying tickets.

At 77, Young remains an outspoken critic of the contemporary music industry, as well as a proponent of green energy and other causes. In January 2022, he removed his music from Spotify in protest over their hosting of Joe Rogan’s podcast, accusing Rogan and Spotify of “spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them”.

He released two albums with his band Crazy Horse in the space of a year last year, with Barn in December 2021 and World Record in November 2022.

Related: Neil Young – every album ranked!

Young performed live for the first time in more than three years in February, at a rally for forest preservation in British Columbia, performing Comes a Time and Heart of Gold.

In November, he said of future touring: “We’re trying to figure out how to do a self-sustaining, renewable tour. Everything that moves our vehicles around, the stage, the lights, the sound, everything that powers it is clean. Nothing dirty with us. We set it up; we do this everywhere we go. This is something that’s very important to me, if I’m ever going to go out again … and I’m not sure I want to, I’m still feeling that out.”