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Ticketmaster CEO On Brand Hatred: "People Want To Eat My Kids They're So Angry"

Haters gonna hate.

But in recent history, no brand's been on the receiving end of consumer vitriol like Ticketmaster. Its CEO Nathan Hubbard has witnessed firsthand just how intense the loathing can get.

"Go search for 'Ticketmaster' on Twitter," he said at Fast Company's recent Innovation Uncensored event in San Francisco. "You learn a lot. People want to eat my kids they're so angry." 

It's not because he's lacking in listening skills. One of Hubbard's main jobs as CEO has been to improve brand perception among consumers—to bring the love back to "the most hated brand in America," as Chuck Salter wrote in Fast Company's recent profile of the company

Along the way, Hubbard actually feeds on the hate. It's feedback, after all. If he wants to learn more about what the company is doing wrong, "hundreds of thousands of people" are giving feedback in one way or the other, whether via social media or on Ticketmaster's website—and let's not forget, these are still customers. "We talk to [our consumers] every single day," he said. "That's the nice thing about being a commerce-transactional site—every pixel on the screen you can test and measure."

But even though Ticketmaster has long been a digital service, the company has resisted looking too much into the data its business had gathered.

"I think we were afraid to measure ourselves," Hubbard said at the Innovation Uncensored event in San Francisco. "We built a business for the venue box office manager, not for the fan. When we transformed the culture and the focus and the incentive structure of every employee in the company to be about, Does the fan satisfaction go up when we do something or not?, that was when we started listening."

Here's more of the conversation with the CEO who's not afraid to take it on the chin.

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  • Chris Thacker

    Ticket fees averaged about 10-15% of total ticket charges in the 80s.  Now they average 25-40% for Ticketmaster/LiveNation.  What they have obviously failed to do is inform the ticket buying public what it is exactly we're paying for.  It seems like a rip off to me.

    Additionally Ticketmaster/LiveNation cons you into magazine subscriptions that you didn't know you were getting.  I unknowingly subscribed to Entertainment Weekly after purchasing comedy show tickets.  I was so angry at this practice and the runaround that I wrote this piece.

    Just recently I noticed that a neighbor had a current issue of EW on top of their mail recycling/junkmail container.  I'd be willing to bet that they have no idea how they started getting it.  They just chuck it as soon as it comes oblivious to the fact that they could get their $15 refunded.

    Ticketmaster was sued for this practice years ago and it was settled out of court yet they are still doing it, albeit with minor modifications to get around the legality of it.  I know for a fact that another law firm is researching this.

    Is there any wonder people hate this company?