Taylor Swift's Promoter: Congress Can Fix Ticket Woes
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - You may not know his name.
But, in the country music world, Louis Messina is a big name.
Now, the Texas promoter says Congress needs to do something to regulate how concert tickets are sold.
Messina says, just like our NewsChannel 5 investigation discovered, fans can have a tough time finding the good seats at a good price.
But, in an exclusive interview with NewsChannel 5 chief investigative reporter Phil Williams, Messina said it's not because artists like Taylor Swift aren't trying.
"Here's an artist that wanted to legitimately sell her tickets for $49.50 and $39.50 and $20 -- and before they even go on sale, it's being advertised at $300. We tried."
The promoter behind Taylor Swift's highly successful Fearless Tour, Messina said the 19-year-old country sensation tried to avoid the scalping craze that saw tickets to her shows being listed, in some cases, for more than a thousand dollars a seat.
"In her world, she wanted to sell every ticket for $20. She wanted to go, 'I just want my fans to be able to come to my shows.' So I said, 'Taylor, you can't do that 'cause you can't afford that. It would cost you so much money.'"
Messina said Taylor's deal with American Express helped to keep ticket prices down.
But part of the price, as our investigation discovered, was that certain prime seats had to be reserved for people with Platinum Cards or for people with the very exclusive Centurion Cards given to the very rich.
"It's a great marketing vehicle for us. They spend a lot of money -- full-page ads in the New York Times, which cost $150,000 to buy, full-page ads in the Philadelphia newspapers and LA. It just helps offset some costs."
Just like the deal that Keith Urban struck with Ticketmaster to pull out some seats to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, Messina said Swift also was offered a piece of the action.
"Actually, she called and said, 'We can't do that That means I'm like scalping my own tickets.' So it cost her millions and millions of dollars, I means millions of dollars, to not to do that," Messina said.
"She did not want to scalp her own tickets?" Williams asked.
"Taylor didn't want to. She said, 'I don't need the money. I don't want my fans to pay what we're selling them for. That's it."
Ironically, another one of Messina's clients, Kenny Chesney, has cut such deals.
Ticketing documents from his 2008 tour show Ticketmaster's auction got two pairs of seats in the first five rows -- for a total of 20 tickets.
For the ticketing instructions given to venues for Kenny Chesney's "Poets & Pirates" Tour, click here.
In some cases, Messina said it may have been more.
"It's like 50 tickets," the promoter said.
"Does he consider that to be scalping his own tickets, the way that Taylor considered it?" Williams asked.
"Kenny's got so much invested in his show. It helps just offset costs. But it's not much money."
Messina says artists like Taylor Swift are doing their part to keep costs down. And, if fans want to help, they should just refuse to pay scalpers' prices.
"Don't buy the tickets -- just don't buy the tickets. Just don't spend $500 on a $50 ticket. Just don't go. Go buy the CD."
Messina said that, ultimately, it's the professional ticket brokers -- or scalpers -- who are driving up the price of concert tickets.
He says Congress needs to either outlaw scalping or, at least, regulate it.
"What's really going to curtail it is if it is from the top down, not than from the bottom up," Messina added.
"It's got to be federal?" Williams asked.
"It's got to be federal. It has to be. It has to be regulated. Right now, it's not."