We have all been there. Your favorite band is coming into town, and tickets go on sale at 9:00 AM on Friday morning. You are at your computer at 8:45 AM, just for good measure. Ticketmaster.com is most likely, and most unfortunately, the place of purchase. At 8:55 AM you begin to refresh the webpage, just to make sure the ticket status has not been changed a few minutes early. At 8:56, you refresh again. 8:57, refresh, nothing. 8:58, refresh, still no change. Now is when it gets real: 8:59 AM. For the next 60 seconds, it is a go time! Refresh, load, nothing. Refresh, load, nothing. Refresh, load, nothing. Only 20 seconds have gone by since the clock struck 8:59, but it has felt like 2 hours. The process continues as your now sweaty palms begin to drip onto the keyboard and your heart palpitates wildly.
Finally, the time has come. You click that refresh icon, and something happens. The load wheel is spinning, the page is taking longer to load, and the clock now reads 9:00 AM. “This is it!”, you think to yourself. Your heart begins to race even faster. Spots begin to blur your vision as the excitement of seeing your favorite band for the first time becomes real. Your imagination runs wild with the thought of where your seats will be. “Surely I have to be in the front few rows,” you think to yourself. And why wouldn’t you be? You were there the moment the tickets went on sale! Not only are you proud of yourself, but the friend that you are also buying a ticket for is about to view you as a true hero. The page finally loads. The last five minutes have felt like five years, and all the life’s work you have put into those last “five years” begins to culminate as the text of the page slowly populates your screen. You try to calm yourself. You clear your vision to read the results of this stressful, laboring effort and here it is… “Sold Out!”
Before we get into the painful aftermath of still finding a ticket, we must understand what has happened here. In most cases, ticket scalpers and ticket brokers across the nation like Gold Coast Tickets, World Ticket Brokers, and Coast to Coast have already purchased a vast majority of the tickets for resale. It is even rumored that the “great” StubHub itself now buys a large amount of tickets directly, just to resell them higher than cost. As if fans don’t already have to deal with being bent over by companies like Ticketmaster, with their insane convenience fees and other charges that will quickly turn a $30 ticket into a $55 ticket, now they have to deal with ticket brokers/scalpers on such a massive scale that are buying/reselling tickets.
So what are fans supposed to do? Typically, if you are dedicated enough, you dive into to the depths of the internet on search for another “true fan” trying to unload the ticket for face value. Craigslist, eBay, StubHub, even posting a status on Facebook or Twitter asking if anyone has extras. Then, when all else fails, the worst happens. You go to the venue hours before the show in hopes of that “true fan” still existing out there somewhere. But what do you find instead? Ticket scalpers. And not just one. They are on the corner of every block surrounding the venue. In most cases, even another wall of them is on the block outside of that as well. All working together in an intricate network designed to buy any possible available ticket from people coming in, and then gouging the poor bastards that are still on search for one that is now double the cost of what it should be.
“I’ll give you $30”, you say.
Pssh. The lowlife turns away for a second like you offended him. Quickly turning back at you he gives you his ever-so-original rebuttal, “You know this is sold out right?”
“Oh really jackass? You think I didn’t already put hours of time and energy into getting these tickets in the first place?”… this is what you are thinking. If you said that to him for real, it would only make matters worse. So you respond in standard haggling formalities.This is when it just turns primitive. Every interaction is the same, and usually has the intensity of a Cormac McCarthy novel:
What do you want for it?
Tickets were twenty-five for face-value?!
Boy, you know how much I paid for this?
No, but if I had to guess, you probably paid around twenty-five for it.
I paid a hundred for this ticket. I am losing money if I sell it to you for less.
You go to hell.
The man pulls out a coin and shows it to the young boy that was once looking for a ticket, but now just looking for a way out.
Ok, so maybe those last few lines are going a bit over the top, but this is always how it goes: Both parties are lying to each other. One party about how much they paid for the ticket, the other about how much they are willing to pay. This scenario usually continues on until either one party walks away in frustration or they meet somewhere in the middle, generally doubling the initial ticket price.
So, this is what America is all about right? If someone can sit at there computer and buy mass quantities of tickets to resell them and earn an extra buck, go for it! If some heckling shit-heads want to “pound the pavement” by ripping people off to their face, then why not pursue that American dream?
Aside from both of those scenarios being bullshit ways to make a buck, the bigger issue is what this does to the audience. Generally it puts a type of person that wouldn’t go to the show otherwise into the seat of a fan. More often than not, a person with a fatter wallet, that also more often than not tends to be more into the social implications of going to the show and having a drink in hand and a date on their hip rather than actually caring about the show.
One of the greatest and most famous examples of this was when LCD Soundsystem announced their final concert at Madison Square Garden in the Spring of 2011. Almost instantly, the concert was sold out to ticket brokers/scalpers and being resold at astronomical prices. James Murphy (lead man for LCD) being the class act that he is rebutted in the most awesome way. At first he took to Twitter, posting such jabs as: “1500 for a single ticket? Fuck you, scalpers. You are parasites. I HATE you.”, and “I will try to figure a way out to fuck these fuckers. NO MATTER WHAT WE DO, IT IS NOT WORTH THAT KIND OF MONEY TO SEE US!”. Murphy lived up to his promise, adding four shows that same week to a smaller New York venue known as Terminal 5, with setlists being nearly identical that of the final show at Madison Square Garden. He sold the tickets directly from his own site, and devised an ID system that discouraged the resale of any tickets.
Now, we could easily say, “If only more artists were like LCD Soundsystem, or Pearl Jam or Radiohead, with there activist approach to the situation, fans wouldn’t have to deal with this.” The first problem with this statement is that most bands that are signed to labels and are not able to have control over ticket sales like this. The label makes the deals with the ticket providers, and we all know that if there is anything more corrupt and greedy in the music industry than ticket providers, it is most labels.
The second problem is us, the fans. We need to join together and learn that when we are put in a situation where we have an extra ticket, we cannot submit to the world of scalpers. We need to be mindful of who we are selling the ticket to, and whether the person that is buying will actually be entering the show, or if they will just be reselling that ticket at a higher cost.
A Few Tips That You Probably Already Know
– 99% of the time, anyone holding a sign of any kind that advertises them needing or selling tickets is a scalper or affiliated with one. I don’t care if it is a an old haggler, a teenager, or cute little kid, stay away from anyone with signs.
– Anytime a paper print-off ticket is given to you, ask them if they will walk you to the door. If they won’t walk up with you, the ticket is not legit. This rule applies to scalpers and fans alike unfortunately.
– Typically it is easy to determine whether the person you are about to buy from/sell to is a fan or a scalper, but if you are not positive, a few simple questions will give you your answer. Examples: Are you going to the show?, What song are you hoping to hear tonight?, What bands are you wanting to catch today? (for festivals), etc.
I know that it is easier and more convenient to just sell what you have to the first person who gives you some low-ball offer, but think of that fan that will be walking up a few minutes later that would want to buy that ticket. Instead of getting price-gauged by a dick, you could sell it to he or she and make their day a little easier, and probably put more money in your pocket than you would get from a scalper anyways. Maybe even do something above and beyond and sell it to them cheaper, or hell, make their night all the better and give it to them for free. It would be way better than satisfying the greasy slime balls that are just trying to rip you off anyways.
So please everyone, let us take control of this situation and join together in a revolution against these parasites of the music kingdom! Who is with me?!