As if outrageous “service” and “convenience” charges from maniacal agencies like Live Nation and Recording Academy weren’t bad enough, live music fans are also up against a different breed of evil: scalpers. And what’s worse? The scalpers have gone digital.
No longer is a fan’s worst enemy the guy who bought 10 tickets for face value, only to turn around and sell eight on the corner outside the parking lot of the sold-out show for twice the value. Now, resellers (individuals and companies alike) are developing algorithms and programs to snatch up tickets en mass solely for the purpose of redistribution at a huge markup through sites like StubHub, Craigslist and even Facebook. Bottom line: While scalping has always had an effect on the ticket resale market, the problem has become increasingly substantial with the increased use of technology.
Luckily, Sen. Chuck Schumer has taken action, introducing legislation that would ban ticket buying “bots” in New York state. While this is new legislation for New York, the ban already exists in 14 other states. As many online commenters have joked, this move may have been taken in response to Chuck’s own inability to find tickets at reasonable prices for the Oct. 22 Paul McCartney show in Buffalo; currently nosebleed seats average $275+ while floor seats will catch around a cool $500. By the way – face value for nosebleed tickets was $29.50, including fees.
Joking aside, these bots are taking far more than a small slice of tickets being sold. According to varying sources, ticketing robots can account for 30-60 percent of tickets sold for certain events. Artists have tried to combat this in a variety of ways in order to give their fans a fair shake; Foo Fighters tried to keep everything in-house and LCD Soundsystem added shows for their farewell run, for example. Still, these tactics are limited when it comes to the clever scumminess that is the mind of the scalper.
Under the new legislation, companies or individuals caught using “bots” to scoop up tickets solely for the sake of resale would be fined up to $1,000 per ticket, with the same fine enforced upon secondary sellers. While that sounds great on paper and would be even better in reality, the unfortunate truth is that in these bans are tough to enforce. In addition to standard reselling sites like StubHub, for example, there are numerous ways tickets can be unfairly obtained and resold. Still, a focus on correcting what has become a widespread foul practice is a step in the right direction for music fans everywhere.
All that said, there is one important sentiment worth mentioning: Some people pay what they deserve to pay. Don’t be stupid. Don’t be the guy who spent $500 for a behind-the-stage seat at the Dead 50 reunion shows. There is something to be said for supply and demand, and the ignorance of the customer is at the fulcrum of the demand. Think about where your tickets are coming from. There are plenty of great sites, such as cashortrade.org, that forbid reselling tickets over face value. Similarly, there are plenty of online communities that operate under the same principles. Best of all, know the right people and look out for your own family and friends. Don’t scalp, and don’t be scalped. If you find yourself about to click “buy” on a ticket that is being sold for way over face value, ask yourself two questions: “Whose pockets am I lining?” and, just as important, “Is it really worth it?”