Pearl Jam’s feud with Ticketmaster in the 1990’s helped define the band in that decade, as the band’s boycott of Ticketmaster venues in the mid 90’s led to many fans not being able to see them live during the commercial prime of their career.
At the time Pearl Jam believed Ticketmaster were charging fans too much for tickets and monopolizing the industry, and in 1994 filed a complaint to the Justice Department. Ticketmaster’s CEO, Fred Rosen, shot back, “If Pearl Jam wants to play for free, we’ll be happy to distribute their tickets for free.” Time magazine referred to the anti-trust-focused legal battle as “Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Holy War.” Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard later spoke to congress, and the investigation was later dropped.
Pearl Jam are now partnering with Ticketmaster to use their Verified Fan program to combat secondary market ticket sales for their North American tour dates this summer.
“Our number one goal has always been to get Pearl Jam tickets into the hands of our fans,” Curtis said in a statement to Billboard. “We are constantly working up ways to improve our ticketing options and level the playing field. Verified Fan is the best solution out there to beat the bots.”
Another Ticketmaster rival, String Cheese Incident manager Mike Luba, said he supports Pearl Jam’s efforts to protect its fans using the Ticketmaster platform.
“It’s good to see Pearl Jam work with the ticketing industry to take positive steps that make things better for bands, fans and society in general,” said Luba, who has battled Ticketmaster over fan club ticket issues in the past.
Luba said artists like Taylor Swift and Reputation tour promoter Louis Messina’s efforts to use Verified Fan and price tickets higher — part of the “Slow Ticketing” strategy — was “moving the industry in the right direction.” and said he hoped Pearl Jam’s use of Verified Fan meant more concerts from the band in the future — “the more Pearl Jam shows, the better for everyone.”
David Marcus, EVP and head of Music at Ticketmaster tells Billboard in a statement that “Ticketmaster is honored to partner with an iconic band like Pearl Jam on their summer concert tour. We have an enormous amount of respect for the band and understand how important their relationship is with their fan base.”