You Always Give Me Your Money: Ticket Scalpers
About two weeks ago, Paul McCartney started selling tickets for his “On The Run” summer/fall tour, which kicks off in July at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Tickets for the first show sold out in about 15 minutes, after a second show was announced it took about an hour to reach a sellout.
Naturally, ticket reseller websites like StubHub just as quickly filled up with McCartney tickets, priced in some cases at double the face value. Of about 100,000 tickets available for the two shows, no doubt most of ‘em were snapped up by scalpers. Don’t get me started about scalping – these days it’s more prevalent than ever and despite the occasional half-assed prosecution for show, the everyday music fan continues to take it in the shorts.
Take, for instance, a recent ruling in New Jersey on three guys who netted $25 million by scalping concert tickets. Despite the fact that the men pleaded guilty to using a sophisticated computer program to take millions of tickets out of the hands of legitimate buyers, a federal judge gave them probation, saying their actions were simply “e-commerce.”
So, basically, keeping honest ticket buyers away from the mother lode of tickets until scalpers have had their pick of the litter is legal. This used to be called organized crime, now it’s “e-commerce.”
And don’t start with the old argument: it’s only supply and demand. Take the scalpers out of the picture and what sort of demand do you have? Certainly not the type of demand that sells out stadium shows in a matter of minutes. The thousands of legal ticket brokers and amateur scalpers who turn up for every ticket sale create a false demand that they hope to capitalize on by selling marked-up tickets.
Websites like Craigslist, eBay and StubHub have created even more scalpers. Recently the Austin City Limits music festival sold out its entire supply of three-day passes and one-day tickets and even the event’s official Facebook site couldn’t escape the stink of scalpers – just an hour after sellouts were announced, these douchebags brazenly posted “tickets for sale” comments for those left out in the cold. Naturally they were way over face value.
Of course, ticket sellers as well as promoters and artists won’t really do anything because all this means they are guaranteed sellouts. They pocket their money and look the other way. Meanwhile, if the average fan can manage to score a ticket to a popular show, it’s by sheer luck.
The ACL Festival also staged a photo contest on Facebook, offering a grand prize of two VIP tickets (face value about $850 apiece) and some guy tried to win by somehow generating hundreds of phony Facebook friends who “liked” his entry. When this scammer was announced as the winner, fans flooded the Facebook site with howls of protest until ACL promoters realized their mistake and awarded the prize to someone else. Had this con artist won the two tickets, you know they would have wound up on eBay.
That goes to show we’re not totally powerless: we can all make a resolution to stop scalpers by just not buying from them. If you can’t get a ticket at face value from the original seller, just pass on seeing your favorite artist or attending the festival of the moment. Keep your money in your pocket – that’s the only way they will get the message.