The Cure's Robert Smith "sickened" by Ticketmaster fees: "I have been asking how they are justified"

Robert Smith
(Image credit: Burak Cingi/Redferns)

With few other high-profile musicians seemingly willing to step forward as music fans' champions since Pearl Jam took Ticketmaster to court in the early '90s, The Cure's Robert Smith is bucking the trend and speaking out.

“I am as sickened as you all are by today’s Ticketmaster ‘Fees’ debacle,”’ Smith wrote on his Twitter account. “To be very clear: The artist has no way to limit them. I have been asking how they are justified. If I get anything coherent by way of an answer I will let you all know.” 

The news that Cure fans have been charged fees for their forthcoming US tour that are close to the prices of the tickets themselves is the latest installment in an ongoing drama around Ticketmaster's fees and its 'Verified Fan' system, an issue that the UK band has tried to address as its Shows Of A Lost World tour goes on sale. 

The Cure announced tickets for the tour would be non-transferable in an effort to limit "resale and keep prices at face value". In response, Ticketmaster informed the band that “All tickets for The Cure Shows Of A Lost World Tour will be made available during tomorrow’s Verified Fan Sale”.

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Robert Smith continued to communicate directly with Cure fans via his Twitter account stating; "We had final say in all our ticket pricing for this upcoming tour, and didn't want those prices instantly and horribly distorted by resale – we were told 'in North America the resale business is a multi-billion [dollar] industry."

Which of course makes Smith's openness all the more necessary, but challenging too. And when the tour's tickets did go on sale, it opened another can of worms as fans cried foul about the fees Ticketmaster was charging on top of the ticket price in a country where The Cure remain a huge live draw.

While the band have endeavored to set some ticket prices for the tour as low as $20 – which is impressive for an act with their legacy and pulling power – some fans reported Ticketmaster fee totals exceeding those of the actual tickets, as screenshot by one customer via Twitter below. 

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Smith also took exception to the ticket giant's 'dynamic' tiered pricing – including its high-priced 'platinum' tickets.

"We didn't agree to the 'dynamic pricing' /' price surging' / 'Platinum ticket' thing… because it is itself a bit of a scam?" he mused on Twitter. "A separate conversation," he conceded as the level of issues the tour ticketing has raised continues to multiply. He later doubled down on his feelings about the dynamic pricing…

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The concept of dynamic pricing has been previously defined by Ticketmaster as based on demand. "These tickets vary in price driven by demand from fans, similar to airline tickets and hotel rooms," it has previously stated on listings for a Harry Styles tour. “We give fans an opportunity to safely buy official tickets for the events they love, right up to the date of the show.”

These prices constantly change according to demand, reported the BBC in 2022. 

While Smith is emerging as the alt-rock hero we both need and deserve to speak out about Ticketmaster and the part of the industry it dominates, his is not the only dissenting voice. 

It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really p*****s me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift's 2023 Eras tour has seen huge demand for tickets with reported issues with supply forcing the musician to make a statement via her Instagram stories.

"Well. It goes without saying that I’m extremely protective of my fans," Swift began. "We’ve been doing this for decades together and over the years, I’ve brought so many elements of my career in-house. I’ve done this SPECIFICALLY to improve the quality of my fans’ experience by doing it myself with my team who care as much about my fans as I do,” she continued. “It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties, and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse.

“There are a multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time trying to get tickets and I’m trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward.

“I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could," Swift stated. "It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really p*****s me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.

“And to those who didn’t get tickets, all I can say is that my hope is to provide more opportunities for us to all get together and sing these songs. Thank you for wanting to be there. You have no idea how much that means.”

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On 15 March Smith updated fans on The Cure's ongoing discussions with Ticketmaster. "Will be back if I get anything serious on TM fees," he posted on his Twitter account. "In the meantime, I am compelled to note down my obvious recurring elephant in the room thought… that if no one bought from scalpers… then…X"

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.