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Ticketmaster Slammed Over Updated Language in Refund Policy

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  • Ticketmaster updated language in its refund policy to only promise returns for canceled events.
  • The previous language also included refunds for postponed and rescheduled events, so many assumed the change was suspicious given the number of shows effected by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Ticketmaster claims that the language update was only intended to clarify that refunds for postponed/rescheduled shows were never up to them, but instead event organizers.
  • StubHub was also slammed for changing its refund policy. Rather than a full refund, StubHub users will get a credit worth 120% of the original cost of their ticket but only if an event is canceled.

Language Change in Refund Policy Causes Outrage

Ticketmaster updated the language in its refund policy amid the coronavirus pandemic, causing confusion and anger from ticketholders hoping to get their money back for canceled events. 

Ticketmaster’s refund policy previously stated that “refunds are available if your event is postponed, rescheduled or canceled.” Now, it’s been cut down to say that “refunds are available if your event is canceled,” leaving postponed and rescheduled shows in limbo. 

As the coronavirus spreads artists like Justin Bieber, BTS, and others have postponed shows left and right, meaning a lot of fans are wondering if a refund will be coming their way. Many have taken their frustrations to Twitter. Some hoped that artists would move to fully canceling tours to aid refunds, while others thought this should motivate artists to move their sales from Ticketmaster to other platforms. 

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) also tweeted about the new policy language, saying the ticket selling giant was in a “competition to provide the worst customer service in any industry.

Ticketmaster Claims Policy is Consistent

Ticketmaster, however, is claiming that there has not actually been a change in their policy. The company gave statements to USA Today and the New York Times claiming their refund policy has remained consistent, and that this was simply a change in wording for clarity.

Ticketmaster put out a blog post in March titled “Information Regarding the Cancellation and Rescheduling of Live Events” to explain its policy moving forward as events were forced to cancel due to COVID-19 concerns.

“As we receive updates from artists, teams and show organizers on their postponed and rescheduled events, as well as their individual refund policies, we will be providing fans with the latest news on their event status via this comprehensive information portal,” the company wrote. 

In that portal, fans can view the status of upcoming events to see if their shows had been canceled. 

“As always, canceled events are automatically refunded,” the post continued. “If an event organizer is offering refunds for postponed or rescheduled events, a refund link will appear on your Ticketmaster account. Otherwise, you are encouraged to periodically check back online to see if the status of their event has changed.”

All of this was essentially to say that refunds could still be offered in the event of a postponed or rescheduled concert, but the responsibility lies with the event’s organizer, not Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster claims that this has always been the case, but fans were still irritated as the initial wording of their refund policy implied guaranteed refunds.

Some have also had trouble getting money refunded to their accounts. One concert goer told the New York Times that of the many shows she had lined up this year that are no longer happening, but she has not seen the money for any. 

“I have about $3,000 tied up in these tickets,” she said. “This is my money that they are holding hostage.”

Some artists have given fans varying information about what will happen to their tickets now that their concerts are put on hold. Former One Direction star Niall Horan, who canceled his 2020 tour, told his fans they will get full refunds, and to visit his website for more information. On the other hand, Justin Bieber, who postponed his tour, told fans to hang tight to their tickets while new dates are being settled. 

Others, like Camila Cabello, are simply telling fans that more information is coming down the pipeline. 

Anger at StubHub

Ticketmaster is not the only ticket vendor causing frustrations with their refund policy. The latest changes to StubHub’s refund policy have also raised eyebrows. If an event is postponed, tickets remain with the buyer until a new date has been selected. If it has been rescheduled, StubHub send the new details but if the buyer cannot make it, no refund will be given. SubHub users will be left to resell the ticket on the site. 

If the event has been cancelled, StubHub will give the buyer a coupon worth 120% of the original order that can be used through the end of 2021 as a credit on their account. In no case was a full cash refund offered.

As a result of this, StubHub is being sued, with some saying they should be legally obligated to give money back for canceled events. Some have also complained that refund credits have not made it to their accounts within the promised timeframes. 

Impact on Concert Industry

Fans are not the only ones who stand to lose from canceled events during this pandemic. According to Pollstar, the concert industry could lose close to $9 billion this year if events remain blacked out. That means that along with ticket sellers and venues, several jobs related to these massive events could be at risk.

“Each tour pays or helps pay the salaries of tens, if not hundreds of thousands who work in venues, production, marketing, concessions, security, box offices, sponsorships and more,” Pollstar notes. “Consider: each parked bus that would have been carrying crew not only includes other passengers who would be earning a living, but every night in every city on the route, hundreds of people would have been involved in making the magic happen at venues that now sit empty.”

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (USA Today) (LoudWire)

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“Don’t Worry Darling” Tops the Box Office Amid Bad Press

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Audiences are already giving the film higher praise than critics did.


Young Women Flock to “Don’t Worry Darling” 

Weeks of controversies and rumors did not prevent “Don’t Worry Darling” from finding victory at the box office, with the Olivia Wilde-directed thriller debuting at number one over the weekend and raking in $19.2 million. 

Wilde also acted in the mid-century mystery, which starrs Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, and Gemma Chan.

Women led ticket sales for the picture, comprising 66% of the audience, according to several reports. At least partially due to the appeal of Styles, crowds also skewed young, with over half under the age of 25.

Overseas, the film made over $10 million, bringing its total for the weekend to $30 million. That number is especially impressive since the R-rated drama had a budget of $35 million.

“Don’t Worry Darling” had been plagued with weeks of rumors about behind-the-scenes drama leading up to its release. Among other bouts of gossip, many online speculated that Pugh and Wilde had riffs on set, leading to Pugh’s refusal to promote the project. One report alleged the two got into a screaming match, but sources on set denied it. 

Wilde and Shia LeBeouf, who was originally cast in the picture, also got into a public he-said-she-said about whether he quit the film or was fired. 

The drama hit a boiling point during its premiere at the Venice Film Festival when Twitter users circulated a video they claimed showed Styles spiting on Pine, though both parties have denied that allegation. 

A Film Riddled With Rumors 

Furthering the bad press were the bad reviews. Critics largely panned the film, sticking it with a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. After this first weekend, moviegoers seem to have a more favorable outlook, as it has a 79% audience score as of Monday. 

Jeff Goldstein, the distribution chief for Warner Bros., told the Associated Press that “the background noise” caused by these controversies “had a neutral impact” on its box office haul. The studio released a statement saying it was pleased with the movie’s earnings. 

Some analysts believe that, if anything, the online gossip and fodder may have aided the film’s box office performance.

In a tweet recapping the weekend’s box office, Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, said the “drama sparked a huge wave of interest.”

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Box Office Mojo) (New York Times)

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Senators Introduce Legislation Requiring Radios to Pay Royalties to Artists

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Sen. Padilla argued the bill is necessary to give artists the “dignity and respect they deserve.”


The American Music Fairness Act

Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the American Music Fairness Act to the Senate on Thursday, a bill that would require radio stations to pay royalties to performers and rights holders. 

The bill was previously introduced to the House last year. According to a release, the United States is the only democratic country where artists are not compensated for their music’s use on AM or FM radio. While songwriters and publishers receive payment, these stations have never been required to give a slice of the pie to performers and copyright holders. 

On streaming and satellite radio, however, both groups receive royalty payments. 

In a statement, Padilla said it is time the country starts treating “our musical artists with the dignity and respect they deserve for the music they produce and we enjoy every day.”

“California’s artists have played a pivotal role in enriching and diversifying our country’s music scene,” he added. “That is why passing the American Music Fairness Act is so important.”

“From Beale Street to Music Row to the hills of East Tennessee, the Volunteer State’s songwriters have undeniably made their mark,” Blackburn echoed. “Tennessee’s creators deserve to be compensated for their work. This legislation will ensure that they receive fair payment and can keep the great hits coming.”

The American Music Fairness Act would require terrestrial radio broadcasters to pay royalties to music creators when their songs are played. It would also protect smaller stations that either make less than $1.5 million in annual revenue or who have a parent company that makes less than $10 million in annual revenue by letting them play unlimited music for under $500 a year. 

The bill would also require other countries to pay American artists for the use of their work.

Support From Major Music Groups

The legislation is endorsed by a number of groups, including the Recording Academy, SAG-AFTRA, and the American Federation of Musicians. 

If passed, the bill could move a lot of money into the pockets of performers. According to the Recording Academy, when American music gets international airplay, other countries collect royalties for American artists, amounting to around $200 million every year. However, they “never pay those royalties because the U.S. does not reciprocate with our own performance right.”

Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, argues that the money belongs to the artists. 

“Broadcast companies profit from advertising sales because of the creative content musicians and singers record. It stands to reason that the performers who create the content deserve to be compensated just as songwriters are now,” Drescher said in a statement. “The reason it’s called the American Music Fairness Act is because the current situation is wholly unfair and it’s up to Congress to make it fair NOW!”

Last year, Representatives Steve Womack (R-AR) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced the Local Radio Freedom Act, a bill with essentially the opposite agenda. It aims to reserve radio’s royalty-free status. The American Music Fairness Act is being viewed as a counter-response to this bill.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Billboard)

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Kanye West Says Catalog Is Potentially Being Sold Without His Permission: “Just Like Taylor Swift”

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After Swift lost the rights to her life’s work, she took on the endeavor of re-recording her first six albums. 


Kanye’s Catalog Potentially Up For Grabs

Following reports that Kanye West was considering selling his catalog, the artist took to Instagram on Tuesday to claim his work is potentially being sold without his approval.

On Monday, Billboard reported that West had been “quietly and intermittently shopping his publishing catalog.”

While the outlet’s sources did not reveal what price West was aiming for, Billboard estimated that West might be looking at a $175 million valuation for his discography. Some of Billboard’s sources seemingly suggested that West and his team were specifically behind the effort to sell his work, but others claimed the “catalog was never actively shopped” and instead, West had been receiving offers from potential buyers. 

Not long after, several news outlets picked the story up and reported that West was gearing up to sell his catalog. West responded by writing on his Instagram story that this was not the case. 

“Not For Sale”

“Just like Taylor Swift,” he said, referencing music mogul Scooter Braun purchasing Swift’s masters with Big Machine Records without her approval. “My publishing is being put up for my sale without my knowledge. Not for sale.”

Swift referred to the sale of her masters to Braun as her “worst case scenario.” In order to regain ownership of her work, she is in the process of re-recording her first six albums, all of which she originally made under Big Machine. Two have already been released and proved to be wildly commercially successful. 

According to Forbes, it is unclear which of his albums West owns the masters to, if he owns any at all. Because of this, it is unknown what kind of position he would be put in if his catalog, which is currently managed by Sony, was sold.

The status of any potential for his work to be sold became foggier later on Tuesday when West shared screenshots of a text exchange he had. He asked an unidentified person what was happening with the catalog sale, and that person responded by calling it “fake news.”

“Of course every publisher wants to pitch [their] hardest buy, smh,” the text continued. 

West did not further indicate if those texts were meant to clarify that his catalog was, in fact, not up for sale, or just further distance himself from any potential acquisition.

See what others are saying: (Billboard) (Forbes) (Complex)

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