Metallica's James Hetfield, left, and Kirk Hammett at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016, a sold-out concert where the big turnaround on ticket resale sites was apparently unforgiven. / Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Metallica's James Hetfield, left, and Kirk Hammett at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016. / Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

In a July 2016 front-page Star Tribune report analyzing the steep influx and costly inflation of resale tickets in the local concert business, Metallica’s show that summer at U.S. Bank Stadium caught our attention as one particularly price-gouged affair. Apparently, it also caught the attention of Metallica’s management.

Billboard magazine alleges in a widely talked-about new report that the Minneapolis concert in question prompted Metallica representatives to start reselling (aka scalping) the band’s own tickets on a tour that started the following year.

In short, Metallica’s management reportedly got so upset by the amount of money made by brokers and other resale specialists off the date at the then-brand-new Vikings stadium, it decided to join the resellers if it couldn’t beat them at their own game, according to Billboard’s article.

Per the Star Tribune’s 2016 report, that Live Nation-promoted USBS date – one of two inaugural concerts at the $1 billion stadium in August 2016, and one of the band’s only live dates that year -- sold out in 10 minutes. Almost as swiftly, more than 15 percent of the 55,000 total tickets wound up on resale websites such as Stubhub at prices often three times or more the original $50-$150.

Among the resale sites with large stashes of high-priced tickets to that show were: TicketsNow, which is owned by the show’s promoter Live Nation; and PrimeSport, an Atlanta-based ticket broker that is a partner with the Vikings for their away games. 

Billboard’s report is based largely around a secretly (but legally) taped phone conversation between a top Live Nation executive, a Metallica insider and an event promoter who was tasked to help the band resell its own tickets.

Live Nation responded to Billboard’s report on the phone conversation by admitting Metallica was one of “about a dozen of the thousand artists we work with” that engaged in its own ticket reselling, an admission that Billboard described as “a rare acknowledgment of an industry tactic little known to the public.” Many of the major concerts at USBS are put on by Live Nation, as are a lot of concerts at the Twin Cities’ other publicly owned and funded sports facilities, including Xcel Energy Center and Target Center.

Live Nation addressed Metallica’s U.S. Bank Stadium date directly in its statement to Billboard: "After seeing the volume of secondary transactions for that show and the benefit being captured by brokers," the statement read, "the independent consultant [Metallica insider Tony DiCioccio] worked with Live Nation on a unique distribution strategy that used the secondary market as a sales distribution channel for select high-end tickets."

It’s not clear if Metallica’s subsequent Minneapolis date at Target Center in April 2018 was one of the shows in which the band’s management employed this “unique distribution strategy” inspired by the prior gig at the Vikings stadium.

Metallica's USBS date was among the local concerts analyzed in the Star Tribune's July 3, 2016, on the influx of the ticket resale market.

Metallica's USBS date was among the local concerts analyzed in the Star Tribune's July 3, 2016, on the influx of the ticket resale market.

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