Can electronic ticketers help keep the scalpers at bay?

Categories: Gimme News
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This past March, First Avenue announced that it would be parting ways with Ticketmaster in favor of its new ticketing outlet, eTix. The switch was met with overwhelming joy from Twin Cities concertgoers, especially those fed up with paying exorbitant (and still rising) Ticketmaster fees. Lately, the downtown club has been making it even easier for fans to pay face value for their tickets, by requiring that some of the bigger shows are will-call-only, meaning that the fans who purchase their tickets during the initial on-sale will be the fans who actually attend the show.

For some, this extra hoop-jumping might seem like a nuisance -- if you buy electronic tickets for the just-announced James Blake show, for example, you have no way of knowing whether something else will come up over the next four months, with no way of re-selling the tickets -- but it's also an admirable attempt to keep the scalpers at bay, and an intriguing test for our concert market.

To examine this issue further, we did a quick search to see just how much ticket prices are being inflated by scalpers for some of the hottest sold-out shows this summer. Below are some of our search results. Warning: The mark-up on the Adele tickets might make you pass out.
 

Janet Jackson at the Orpheum


Face value: $67.50-$97.50

Scalpers want: $175

Mark-up: 180%

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Rock the Garden at the Walker

Face value: $46

Scalpers want: $190 for a pair

Mark-up: 207%

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GLEE at the Target Center


Face value: $51.50-$91.50

Scalpers want: $700 for a pair

Mark-up: 383%

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Adele at First Avenue

Face value: $27.50

Scalpers want: $1000 for two tickets

Mark-up: 1,818%

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20 comments
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This can enjoy higher profit margins by limiting the availability of comparable alternatives in the event locations. This has the beer in this case is a free product.

Jhunstiger
Jhunstiger

OK, but I just got tickets for The EEL through etix (I don't live in Mpls) and with the convenience charge and shipping the 23.50 ticket still cost me $35.15. How is etix better?

buying low, selling high
buying low, selling high

Six Pack of beer at liquor store: $7.99.  Six Pack of same beer at concert: $36.  Beer Scalper markup: I don't do math but it seems like we should clamp down on those son of a bitches too. All beer should be free.

MrPisces
MrPisces

Freealonzo has a point. Sometimes a scalper finds a fool with money to burn, but the marketplace is not as bad as it might be in a first tier city.I think that VIP experience tickets are one of the best ways to put a crimp in scalping. Scalpers are not likely to want to hoard expensive VIP tickets, and those tickets sell slower. Another things is limiting the number of tickets a person can buy online or give a day advance sale before they go online. 

Freealonzo
Freealonzo

One needs to be careful in comparing price being offered for sale and what sellers are actually getting.  I looked on Stub Hub and over the past week most Adele tix have been going for around $250 to $300.  Nearly 10 times face value but not $500 either.  

Bob
Bob

Good point, Jhunstiger....These people, whether ticketmassless or etix, just want to manage everyone's morals....

BTW, I am 10% native American, and I am offended by the use of the word scalper...  

Chris
Chris

I'm guessing you work for scalping agency (or just enjoy playing devil's advocate?)?  The difference between ticket scalpers and "beer scalpers" is that ticket scalpers provide no added value.  None. 

"Beer scalpers" at event venues have to provide a safe, lawful environment for you to enjoy your beer, which includes higher costs compared to a liquor store: additional licenses, servers, "bar ware," etc.  They may enjoy higher margins by limiting the availability of comparable alternatives at event venues (whereas you can just drive to another liquor store if you don't agree with the prices), but the beer in this case is a complimentary product/service.  And still, they're adding value -- you can enjoy a beer at the concert/event.

Ticket scalpers provide no extra value when re-selling tickets.  They're recognizing that the demand is greater than the supply of tickets, fair enough.  But they're capitalizing on a slower-moving group of consumers and using means (software that can quickly purchase large quantities of tickets) that the average consumer doesn't have access to.  It may not be illegal, but it's not very ethical, either.

No added value -- that's the key distinction for those that cry "they're not the only industry that does it!" when defending ticket scalpers.

Humongous Gunman Dickerson
Humongous Gunman Dickerson

But bob don't you see?  it's doesn't matter what you think.... just get in line and cough up those fees.  I'm standing in line for Adele tickets and some cunt starts up with all the facts, "there are 600 tickets for sale, these are tickets that scalpers tried to buy but there is only one sale per household" " so, how the fuck do you think you know all of this?"  she has the nerve to tell me she works at Ticketmaster and I"M A SCALPER!.  As long as the corporations can fuck us for money and keeps us from making our own oppertunity then all is well.  Like that asshole Chris above.  Take your fucking necon shill speechs and shove them up your candy fucking ass.  If I legally buy a ticket and find someone who agrees to buy it from me..... then what is it anybodies god damn business what I charged for it.   Next time I hear the word "scalper" may be the day I lay it all down to make a point.  THIS is "don't tread on me" stuff.

Bob
Bob

Chris, you have little understanding on how the principals of supply and demand work..

Big Herb Dickerson
Big Herb Dickerson

Your middle paragraph describes every business on main street.  how does the shoe store add value?  I just want the shoes.  Does the average consumer have access to oil drilling equipment and refineries? is it not very ethical that amoco can do it quicker?  You really don't understand how business works do you?

Big Herb Dickerson
Big Herb Dickerson

so getting to see a show you want to see but can't because you didn't buy tickets quick enough is NOT "value added"?  hmmm?  I can drive to another concert if I don't like that this one is sold out?  I'm confused by your example....  i don't work at an agency, and i do scalp tickets on occasion as a way to make a little extra money.  do you have an aversion to someone trying to make money?  Maybe now you could tell me how beer distributors add value too...    i have some dissapointing news for you.  there is no magic software for stealing tickets.  

Hard Herb
Hard Herb

See, in the real world you aren't able to hide behind your firewall and lob verbal grenades.  When you call someone "worthless" where I come from you often need to be able to handle your own security.  Really, I'm serious.  Let's get together.  I think I would really enjoy that.  Pretty obvious by your mouth that you really don't have much to offer the world in the way of measurable benefit.  Stand up and stand behind your attitude.  I've got some time off this week so I am available pretty much all day long.  C'mon, you can take a little pride in your smartness can't you?  Come out of the basement and be counted.  I like the feel of breaking a rib with a well timed punch.  

Chris
Chris

Herb,

Your last comment started with so much promise--why end on such a negative tone?  When a guy tells me I've gotten under his skin, it's usually a result of a pleasurable experience.  Then we switch.

Unfortunately, I must decline your invitation to compare mouth sizes.  On the Internet, nobody knows that you're a dog, after all.  My mouth is approximately 2" wide and 3 1/4" tall when I open it as wide as I can, though, if that helps.

I should also confess: I have almost no dentistry skills.  And a non-existent dental plan.  Double whammy.  Very not smart, to answer your question.

It's now pretty clear that I'm a lacking a few skills, so l have a better resolution to consider instead of your Who's Mouth Is Bigger? idea.  I will teach you how to use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation in exchange for lessons in patience (that you've learned from standing long lines to buy tickets to scalp).  Only, that doesn't seem like a very fair exchange, so you have to hook me up with something else, too.  Like Katy Perry tickets, or dentistry skills (preferably emergency dentistry).  I'm open to other ideas, too.

Wrong Guy Dickerson
Wrong Guy Dickerson

maybe you're so smart you can handle your own dental emergency... why pay a dentist? anybody can put a tooth back in right smartass?  let's find out.

Herbs Had Enough
Herbs Had Enough

wow, picking on a typo?  your comments have now gotten under my skin.  you name the place and time and we'll see who has the big mouth then.  Shall we?

Chris
Chris

So how am I keeping you from making your own "oppertunity" (sic)?  I bet I know--you've finally realized that you're a worthless scalper and now your conscience is getting the better of you (yes, scalpers are indeed worthless; they have precisely zero worth). 

I won't dispute that I'm an asshole.

It's 'anybodies (sic) god damn business what you charged for it' because you're screwing over the two parties that really matter in the equation--the fans and the artists.  Most (but not all) artists actually appreciate their fans and don't want to be perceived as greedy assholes.  Lower ticket prices also encourage fans to buy merchandise that supports artists at shows, which I think is okay (those things actually have value).  Fans are also more likely to become long-term "customers" of artists if they feel they're treated fairly by the artist.

I think we're in agreement that we don't really care if Ticketmaster gets screwed out of additional revenue, but I'm still more willing to cough up the extra dough to them than to worthless scalpers like you.  Why?  Set prices, for one.  The authenticity of tickets is guaranteed.  Events are also time-sensitive services, and scalpers make buying tickets inconvenient.  Most scalper prices start above what most of the market is willing to pay as a way to test the "true ceiling."  As the event date nears and scalper tickets remain, prices are adjusted downward.  Say your Adele ticket costs $50 and you initially try to sell it for $200.  As the event date nears and it remains unsold, maybe you'll lower your asking price to $150, and then maybe $100 a few days before the show.  You're now leaving someone who actually WANTS TO SEE THE SHOW less lead-time to make a purchase, which is inconvenient.  Additionally, many scalpers are unwilling to ever lower prices to at or near face value, meaning the ticket goes unused instead of going to someone who would be willing to pay face value for it and actually WANTS TO SEE THE SHOW.

With that said, Mr. Worthless Scalper, why should I "just get in line and cough up those fees" to YOU?  Because you're good at standing in line?  Because you can buy many tickets at once that you don't actually want to use?  Because the ticket I can buy from you might be counterfeit?  Because you're inconveniencing event goers?  You've indeed proven yourself an "oppertunist" -- one that provides no incremental value (and is in fact detrimental) to the process of buying and distributing event tickets.  And while I'll give you credit for being passionate, you should try applying it to something that's, you know, actually productive.

Lord Moola Dickerson
Lord Moola Dickerson

just doubled my money on Katy Perry tickets.  I made a hundred bucks the easy way.  unfortunately Chris, you are still a dick in the mud.

Chris
Chris

You're applying some pretty backwards logic here. More tickets would be available (at face values) to see the shows you want to see if secondary brokers weren't buying large quantities the second they go on sale.  "Magic software" for buying (I didn't say "stealing") large quantities of tickets does in fact exist.  RMG Technology was the biggest, but Ticketmaster won an injunction against them that required RMG to stop supplying its software (http://www.ticketnews.com/news....  Since then, however, several other companies have popped up offering similar software.

The "value added" that you're referring to is time- and convenience-related. My claim that "no value is added" may not have been entirely accurate in that sense.  However, the added value is grossly disproportionate to the increase in cost.  Paying 2-10x the face value of a ticket for the "convenience" of not having to buy tickets the second (i.e. time) they go on sale?  Seems a little out of whack.

Then again, I've been told I don't know much about "how business works."  If I had to guess, though, I'd say beer distributors add value by buying larger quantities of inventory at lower per-unit costs, which gives retail outlets (bars, liquor stores) the opportunity to buy in smaller quantities (and at more favorable prices) from the distributor than they could buy from the bottler/manufacturer.

Amoco - now that's convenience.  I used to have my own oil rig and refinery, but jesus christ was it expensive to operate and maintain!  Thank god for Amoco.  Now I can just buy my gas a gallon at a time.

There are many, many reseller markets that justifiably mark up prices because of the value they add.  Secondary market ticket brokers are not one of them, I'm afraid. 

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