"It's over... tours are no longer fun" says Neil Young, as he lays into Ticketmaster on behalf of "ripped off fans"

Neil Young sitting in a vintage car in a field
(Image credit: Joel Bernstein)

Neil Young has taken aim at Ticketmaster on behalf of "ripped off fans".

Posting on his website, under the heading, Concert Touring Is Broken, Young writes, 

"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."

Young then posted an article from Quartz, which details the recent dispute between The Cure's frontman Robert Smith and Ticketmaster, which included a Smith Tweet telling fans that he is “as sickened as you all are” by exorbitant fees on Ticketmaster ticket sales.

In The Cure's case, Ticketmaster added fees which, in some instances, exceeded the cost of the ticket itself. Smith's tweet, and the mounting anger on social media around the issue, seemed to shame the company into looking at the fees anew.

“After further conversation, Ticketmaster have agreed with us that many of the fees being charged are unduly high," Smith tweeted on March 16, "and as a gesture of goodwill have offered a $10 per ticket refund to all verified fan accounts for lowest ticket price transactions and a $5 per ticket refund to all verified fan accounts for all other ticket price transactions, for all Cure shows at all venues; if you already bought a ticket you will get an automatic refund; all tickets on sale tomorrow will incur lower fees.”

Bands, and fans, taking issue with Ticketmaster is nothing new. In 1994, Pearl Jam tried to insist that booking fees on their $18 tickets should cost no more than $1.80, at a time when Ticketmaster were charging double or triple this amount. When Ticketmaster refused to play along, the Seattle band promptly cancelled their US tour plans, a decision which cost them between two and three million dollars.

As reported by Rolling Stone, "Pearl Jam claimed that Ticketmaster, after scooping up its competitors, abused its marketplace dominance by collecting sky-high service fees and signing exclusive deals with major concert venues, leaving consumers and artists with no other alternative."

Attempting to by-pass Ticketmaster caused no end of problems for Pearl Jam, and the band were ultimately forced to back down, but before addressing US law-makers in Washington DC, alongside Aerosmith's manager Tim Collins.

Speaking to the Information, Justice, Transportation, and Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations, on June 30 1994, Collins said, "Steven Tyler said to me, ‘Mussolini may have made the trains run on time, but not everyone could get a seat on that train’. That is the problem Aerosmith and I have with Ticketmaster."

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.