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Psst...buddy, want some concert tickets?
September 3, 2003 6:22 AM   Subscribe

Waiting in line won't help you. According to the New York Times, Ticketmaster plans to begin auctioning off the best concert seats to the highest online bidders. The paper says there would be no limit on how high prices could go - it would be simply a matter of how much people were willing to pay. So, with ClearChannel, the RIAA and Ticketmaster now officially boinking the fan base...what other methods can the music industry use to drive away fans?
posted by dejah420 (70 comments total)

 
Supply and demand... it's actually been in effect for concert tickets for quite some time, only the money has been going to the scalpers, not the bands/promoters.
posted by ph00dz at 6:26 AM on September 3, 2003


Oh yeah, ticketmaster and clear channel are all about market forces.

*pukes*
posted by Space Coyote at 6:30 AM on September 3, 2003


Wow, if you can't beat the scalpers, join 'em, huh?
posted by jonmc at 6:33 AM on September 3, 2003


I really see no problem with this. Economics 101 at work.

Which would YOU rather do? Pay a higher price for better seats? Or have to camp out on the sidewalk for 3 days (or more) just to hope that your ticket agent can out-buy the scalpers buying hundreds of tickets at a time?

Going to a concert is a completely voluntary thing, and which seats you sit in even more so.

I personally don't care if they charge $5000 for seats. If you want to go, buy your ticket. If you don't, then don't.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:39 AM on September 3, 2003


There's an easy solution to this problem.

Go see local bands. For a $2 cover charge you hear new music and see a decent show.

[This message brought to you by the Local Band Counsel, making live music affordable for over 4000 years.]
posted by Outlawyr at 6:47 AM on September 3, 2003 [1 favorite]


So if I pay TicketMaster several thousand dollars for front row seats to see Neil Young, can I berate him for not playing his hits with some degree of force?
posted by Space Coyote at 6:53 AM on September 3, 2003


You know, I think if you just offered Neil the $5000 he'd come play whatever you want in your living room.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:55 AM on September 3, 2003


So now scalpers have to pay even more money to buy up the tickets and sell at a higher rate? Great.
posted by romanb at 6:56 AM on September 3, 2003


Ah yes, the return to ye olde nobles/peasants paradigm. Let the underclass eat cake, the lords and ladies want front-row seats!
posted by moonbiter at 7:01 AM on September 3, 2003


Going to a concert is a completely voluntary thing, and which seats you sit in even more so.

See, that's the thing. You need to go to concerts where there are no seats.

Or, you know, what Outlawyer said in their first comment.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:03 AM on September 3, 2003


I have to agree with Ynoxas on this one. Who should get the profit? The band/agents or the tout (scalper)?

Ultimately, if you want to see a lot of bands, the Ticketmaster/Clear Channel axis have you by the short & curlies. If people are just going to be dumb consumers then this what happens. Tough titty.

Take Outlawyr's advice & shop locally. Or do what I'm doing on Friday with a 100 or so other folks & drag a whole loada gear off into the Surry woods & party all night for free.
posted by i_cola at 7:06 AM on September 3, 2003


The best concerts don't have seats.
posted by corpse at 7:10 AM on September 3, 2003


I really see no problem with this. Economics 101 at work.

You should have stayed on for 102, when they teach you about monopolies and anti-competitive behavior. Just because something ivolves a business fucking some regular people does not make it "classic free market phenomenon" or whatever. I like how a word that stands for competition and plurality has been co-opted by those who would apologize for monolithic and all-powerful corporations which subvert market forces.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 7:11 AM on September 3, 2003 [1 favorite]


I'm one of those monsters that prefers the recording to the live show. As much talk as there always is about the presence and power of a live performance? I've been to a lot of shows (music writer in another lifetime) and most of what I saw at live shows was technical improfficiency and careless disregard for the audience. Give me a nice CD anyday. Otherwise, I've paid higher prices to scalpers for better seats, and higher prices to Ticketmaster for the same seats. Whom do you you think I'll return to when I want to go to a show?
posted by UncleFes at 7:12 AM on September 3, 2003


Ticketmaster sucks. There's no doubt about it. However, (a few years back) some sports teams forced scalpers to work in a designated area-- this resulted in lower average prices for scalped tickets as buyers had access to better information about market prices of tickets and scalpers were forced to compete on price rather than simply moving away from other scalpers. It seems like this would make the best seats more available to the rabble, rather than less available.
posted by yerfatma at 7:14 AM on September 3, 2003


Ignatius, how is it subverting market forces to offer tickets to the highest bidder? While Ticketmaster may be screwing people in lots of other ways, the paradigm suggested here is free market economics in the raw.
posted by biffa at 7:19 AM on September 3, 2003


In Soviet Russia, ticket scalps you.

(Also, apparently, in ticketmaster's America.)
posted by jpoulos at 7:21 AM on September 3, 2003


If this was truly supply and demand there would be set prices for each seat/section so everyone would know what they're getting into. An auction is a very special event and has little to do with supply and demand as much as it has to do with vanity items and the will of the purchaser. In fact, auctions in general tend to inflate the price of things, not help find the fair price. Imagine a life where everything was an auction. You'd be broke.

I don't believe they're pulling out the auction system for something as trivial as concert tickets. We're not talking a Picasso here, but a pop concert. Regardless, now the scalpers will just have to outbid each other and pass the "savings" onto the guy who couldn't be bothered to bid online . This is the same guy who couldnt be bothered to get to ticketmaster on-time to buy tickets either. He's going to be in for a big surprise when he calls "1800Scalpers" and finds out that radiohead is $500 a seat.

There is no "classic free market" dynamic here, just Ticketmaster doing its best to get a part of the scalper money, which ironically makes it its own scalper.

I left top-40 long ago, enjoy your monopoly and eTicketBay, suckers.
posted by skallas at 7:23 AM on September 3, 2003


What's next: futures markets in concert tickets. See one of those great $2 bands in a small club, and if you like them enough, buy a contract that gives you the right to buy tickets to see them in three years, and watch the value of your contract zoom as demand to see their live shows increases. Instead of engaging in elitist whining as your sadcore indie fave breaks national, you could be making big big bucks on your adventurous, discerning musical tastes!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:31 AM on September 3, 2003


P.S. cool how the sidebar in this thread is full of ticket brokers' ads. Never noticed this.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:33 AM on September 3, 2003


What's next: futures markets in concert tickets.

Oh great, first they suck all the fun out of buying hog bellies, now this...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:35 AM on September 3, 2003 [1 favorite]


Well, some bands, who can afford the organization needed to pull it off, sell tickets for their concerts online through their own websites. Radiohead is one--the best tickets for their shows (the fenced off "zone" directly in front of the stage) can be bought online, and cost about the same as what Ticketmaster charges (this includes their delivery by Fedex). You used to be able to order U2 tickets through their fan club Propaganda as well, and I assume you still can. Obviously this isn't an option for most bands, but at least it's a possibility. [hiss]Ticketmaster[/hiss]
posted by jokeefe at 7:42 AM on September 3, 2003


They should rather do it by blind auction. People submit bids that are kept private, and the person with the second highest bid wins. This prevents the price from skyrocketing as nobody will make unrealistic bids as they risk becoming the highest bid.
posted by PenDevil at 7:44 AM on September 3, 2003


Outlawyr/Ufez:

I agree completely. All but one of the concerts I've been to in the past 5 years have been in venues of less than maybe 300 people. Though we did have chairs, just not "seats".

In Nashville, you really have no excuse to not go see small venue performances. And its not all country as some might think.

There's something neat about going to see a local band 3 or 4 times, and the band members remember you and sincerely and honestly thank you for your support. I will value that much more than a $30 t-shirt.

On preview: Ignatius, actually my undergraduate and post-graduate training is in Economics. This is simple price discrimination via auction. Each band and/or act is in effect a unique good, cries of "monopoly" may sound very alarming but simply don't apply in this case.

In truth, I would like to see every seat in the stadium at auction. That way you can pay $1000 for the front row or $1.25 for the nosebleed seats.

You truly believe the current system of camping out and paying scalpers is better?

Scalpers make money because they are able to beat other people to the box office and buy 100 tickets for $32.50 and sell for several orders of magnitude more. By giving everyone equal access to the tickets and basing it on how much they are willing to pay, the scalper is squeezed out because the auction ESTABLISHES the market price for that good.

Is it perfect? No, nothing is. Is it better? I think so.

UncleFes: I feel the same way, that's why I go to 5 concerts a year but buy 30 CDs or more a year. I just like to combine the two and go see a local band AND buy their CD for $8 of which probably $6 is profit for the band.

Skallas: you need look no further than Ebay or Ubid to see the fallacy of your anti-auction discussion. I can buy almost any non-perishable good over $10 at auction online cheaper than ANY local outlet. Go to Electronics Express and ask them to match a price you found at an online auction. They will not do it. Some stores will match online retailers, but not auctions. Why do you think that is?

Pendevil: What you describe is interesting, but in the absence of information and the non traditional setting, it is truly more akin to a variable-price raffle, not an auction.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:51 AM on September 3, 2003


Will the service charge be based on a percentage of the winning bid?
posted by crunchburger at 7:57 AM on September 3, 2003


I thought all the best Justin Timberlake seats were already held for the rich and powerful.
posted by archimago at 8:08 AM on September 3, 2003


I don't believe they're pulling out the auction system for something as trivial as concert tickets. We're not talking a Picasso here, but a pop concert.

Psst. There's this new-fangled invention called Ebay which has auctions for (among other things) replicas of gum wrappers and coupons for paper towels.

An auction is a very special event and has little to do with supply and demand as much as it has to do with vanity items and the will of the purchaser

Um, no. See the above links.

In fact, auctions in general tend to inflate the price of things, not help find the fair price. Imagine a life where everything was an auction. You'd be broke.

Unless you have something that would back this up, I'm going to assume you're making it up. From what little I remember of Econ 101, an auction is simply a mechanism to determine what the maximum sale price for a particular good is. If the good is unique, that maximum price determines what it sells for. If there is more than one good, the second, third and fourth bidders' bids become sales as well. This mechanism becomes unwieldy once you start making thousands or millions of a good, so we don't use it for everyday purchases, but there's no reason we can't. The value someone considers a particular good to be worth doesn't change because the seller changes the mechanism of sale.

So, with ClearChannel, the RIAA and Ticketmaster now officially boinking the fan base...what other methods can the music industry use to drive away fans?

This is something those who want to use this system should consider, and I'm sure they will. Is the extra income generated by this selling method worth potential bad blood with fans and the buying public? This is something I'm fairly sure different artists will decide differently about.

He's going to be in for a big surprise when he calls "1800Scalpers" and finds out that radiohead is $500 a seat.

Is this any different than the way they operate today? If anything, it will drive the profit margin of the professional brokers way down, which is a good thing.

On preview, Ynoxas just said everything I am saying, but better.
posted by deadcowdan at 8:14 AM on September 3, 2003


Will the service charge be based on a percentage of the winning bid?

That'd be very telling, but I doubt it's legal. All service charges I've seen have been the same for all tickets regardless of price.

And upon further reflection with the issue at hand, for most shows that you have to buy reserved tickets in advance, a huge chunk of the best seats go to corporations and radio stations for promotion anyways. I don't necessarily agree that the artists themselves are going to get any additional revenue from Ticketmaster and their death grip on money, but if it worked out that way it'd be cool.

And you know, because it can't be said enough, support your local and independent artists.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:16 AM on September 3, 2003


Ignatius, how is it subverting market forces to offer tickets to the highest bidder?

I don't know that the auction itself is anti-market, but it is only possible for them to do that because their dominance of the marketplace has eliminated almost all competition. If Ticketmaster didn't have such a preponderance of popular musical acts contractually bound to them, then we would all just go see shows put on by non-jagoffs, and the problem would solve itself.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:21 AM on September 3, 2003


On preview: Ignatius, actually my undergraduate and post-graduate training is in Economics. This is simple price discrimination via auction.

You forgot to add that if a monopolist can price-discriminate, its marginal revenue curve drops back on top of the demand curve and All Is Well except that consumer surplus goes bye-bye.

Or, differently, monopolists that are price-discriminators don't commit the really *big,* deadly sin of Pareto-inferiority that normal monopolists do, even if they still commit venal sins. If you're gonna have monopolists, and you will WRT tickets for a particular band, then you *want* them to be price-discriminators.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:23 AM on September 3, 2003


You truly believe the current system of camping out and paying scalpers is better?

Better? Yes. Good? No, but I think that giving more control to the companies who have failed to properly manage that situation seems an odd alternative. Like how we all know that all some point deregulation is going to Washington's answer to the power blackouts.

This is simple price discrimination via auction.

So if I used extra-market means to take control of all the world's water, and then auctioned it off, would that be "simple price discrimination," or would it be anti-competitive and unfair to consumers? It's like an energy utility auctioning off power. Bullshit made more pure and offensive by the fact that the consumer has nowhere else to go, which seems unlike the ideals of the free market to me. Did market forces slide Pravda under people's doors?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:27 AM on September 3, 2003


>. Some stores will match online retailers, but not auctions. Why do you think that is?

That is not my experience at all. Lets take software for example. When the last Star Wars game came out for the XBox its ebay price was ridiculously high, yet my local retailer stuck to his 39.99 price. Some retailers were sold out, but a couple of phone calls saved you 20 something dollars AND shipping AND dealing with a stranger with no warranty/return policy. Why do you think that is? False scarcity and lack of information. Like I wrote above, auctions have very limited use and often inflate prices.

Also, have you considered for a moment that ebay is mostly Customer to Customer sales? Why would Joe Retailer who has overhead out the wazoo want to try to compete with some dude selling out his basement something he found for super-cheap at a yard sale? Consider that. Of course they'll price match other RETAIL stores, because they're both in the same boat.

>cries of "monopoly" may sound very alarming but simply don't apply in this case.

Yes it does. If Ticketmaster competed with other ticket agents then it would not be a monopoly. Because they're the primary mover and shaker when it comes to selling tickets they are a monopoly pure and simple.

Like I posted previously, the auction is just a way to get x amount of scalper money and a bad business method all around because concert tickets rarely are considered vanity or uber-rare items auctions best serve. I can see this being mildly successful for the dying classic rockers and their aging boomer fans, but it certainly won't last and people used to getting decent seats for a decent price will be thoroughly pissed. For a monopoly thats not usually an issue, though.
posted by skallas at 8:27 AM on September 3, 2003


Well, I don't see why it would be illegal for ticketmaster to charge more for 'auction' based ticket sales, and sales for more money. Certanly ebay does.

And the idea that auctions drive the price down? rediculous. There are companies in europe that will fly you around the continent for $0.99 based on the auction model.

I also found a turbo charger for my car on ebay for $450, way less then it would normaly cost, esp for my vechile. Couldn't afford it at the time though :(
posted by delmoi at 8:28 AM on September 3, 2003


I don't know that the auction itself is anti-market, but it is only possible for them to do that because their dominance of the marketplace has eliminated almost all competition.

How so? If NewExcitingBand decides to sell all its tickets itself via an online system using an embedded auction, they can do that easy-peasey. Or they could just sell their concert tickets through ebay. Or you could tell them how much you're willing to pay to see them, and they'll tell you exactly which seat is the best seat you can get for that price.

If Ticketmaster didn't have such a preponderance of popular musical acts contractually bound to them, then we would all just go see shows put on by non-jagoffs, and the problem would solve itself.

That assumes that if I can't see the Radiohead because they're ticketmastered, I'd be just as happy to see Huey Lewis and the News who aren't, which is stupid. I don't think bands are very good substitutes for each other.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:29 AM on September 3, 2003


How so? If NewExcitingBand decides to sell all its tickets itself via an online system using an embedded auction, they can do that easy-peasey. Or they could just sell their concert tickets through ebay. Or you could tell them how much you're willing to pay to see them, and they'll tell you exactly which seat is the best seat you can get for that price.

And then NewExcitingBand would be screwed. So would I, as I woundn't be able to see them in New Jersey, where I live. You see, Ticketmaster owns the PNC Bank arts center, and has exclusive deals with the Meadowlands and Madison Square Garden. Guess what company has to sell the tickets if you want to be booked there?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:44 AM on September 3, 2003


Let's see it work first hand...

Anyone want to see Dave Matthews at the Tweeter Center in Boston? I have a pair of tickets for each show on Monday Sept. 8 and Tuesday Sept. 9

Bidding starts at $1.00
posted by FreezBoy at 8:45 AM on September 3, 2003


skallas, I think you're confusing the Winner's Curse [pdf] of a classic auction where people bid for one item with this situation. Those auctions do tend to inflate prices.

However . . . "If this was truly supply and demand there would be set prices for each seat/section so everyone would know what they're getting into." Think of a supply/ demand graph: the intersection is the price where the market clears, but there are any number of outliers who would be willing to pay varying amounts more to purchase the product (IIRC, that's "consumer surplus"). Ticketmaster is attempting to pull out as much of the consumer surplus as possible by taking the best seats (which would be even more attractive to those who would pay more than the market clearing price) and auctioning them to all of those outliers.

One should mention this is classic monopolist behavior.
posted by yerfatma at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2003


Those tickets are overpriced at free, Freezboy.
posted by deadcowdan at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2003


I will remove and dispose of both tickets for $3.
posted by creamed corn at 8:52 AM on September 3, 2003


XQUZY: there are really only two musical venues in the entire state of New Jersey, such that it's impossible to play other than in the Meadowlands or that Bank Center place? That must suck.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:02 AM on September 3, 2003


deadcowdan, you took the words out of my mouth.
posted by sic at 9:06 AM on September 3, 2003


ExcitingNewBand can do anything they want, but an auction is unlikely to work for them. Presumably, that's why the market hasn't gone in that direction before. It would work for Ticketmaster, but only because of their stranglehold on different bands and venues.

That assumes that if I can't see the Radiohead because they're ticketmastered, I'd be just as happy to see Huey Lewis and the News who aren't, which is stupid. I don't think bands are very good substitutes for each other.

I don't really understand what you're saying. My point is that the specific bands that people want to see are corraled by ticketmaster, and that if this wasn't the case different promoters could compete to put on their shows. THe bands typiccally don't like Ticketmaster, either. I would agree that bands don't substitute for one another. This is why "support your local artists" (while in and of itself it is a great idea) rings hollower than an actual admission that a single syndicate controls the touring and ticketing of almost all national acts.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:10 AM on September 3, 2003


XQUZY: there are really only two musical venues in the entire state of New Jersey, such that it's impossible to play other than in the Meadowlands or that Bank Center place? That must suck.

The idea that you're arguing that there's no problem a band couldn't play a 40,000-seat stadium because there are "other musical venues" is so insulting to both your argument and our intelligence that I simply refuse to believe you actually believe that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:17 AM on September 3, 2003


There are many, many more than 2 venues to see live music in NJ, but the Meadowlands and PNC Arts Center are basically the ones Justin Timberlake (and Bruce Springsteen) would play. If I want to see bands in a smaller venue where advance tickets are available (like the Stone Pony when Bruce isn't doing a secret show), I could buy tickets at the venue or easily through ticketmaster. If I want to go see an "up and coming" act play in NYC, I can either go to the box office (which is difficult during work hours), go to the record store where tickets for some venues are sold, or buy tickets through Ticketmaster or TicketWeb (which I believe was bought by Ticketmaster?).

I'd be into the idea of seeing stadium shows for $1/seat, but the additional Ticketmaster charges for purchasing/mailing/etc. would probably make the tickets still too expensive for me...
posted by armacy at 9:22 AM on September 3, 2003


Arena concertgoers certainly deserve whatever punishment they get. But I recognize that not everybody's a Fugazi fan and most bands can't control prices and venues like they do.

The original point of this post is interesting, though: How high can prices go--regardless of selling method--until the backlash kicks in? From an economics perspective, might this turn out to be a variant of Winner-Take-All syndrome? (On the buy side, not supply side.) That is, might the larger impact be to diminish the demand for major concerts in general? The charts are already fragmented (how many stadium tours in the 90s versus the 70s?). If this leads to higher prices, it could be very bad business. And that's unfortunate, too, considering live performances may be most acts'/labels' primary source of revenue as digital music and p-to-p piracy grow...
posted by micropublishery at 9:26 AM on September 3, 2003


How high can prices go--regardless of selling method--until the backlash kicks in?

Was that the point?
With an auction, the backlash is built into the system, if sufficient people are willing to pay $X00 then fine, if they're not then the tickets sell for £X0 or just $X. It can only lead to higher prices if people are prerared to pay them, as soon as they're not the prices get lower.
posted by biffa at 9:35 AM on September 3, 2003


If they're going to auction the "best" tickets, they ought to auction the "worst" ones, too, starting at a penny with no reserve. I'm not willing to pay $50 for seats way in the back at the Barry Manilow concert, but maybe if I could snag a pair for 50 cents...

Nah. Forget I said that.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:54 AM on September 3, 2003


It is always a painful moment when an artist or band which I admire makes the jump from being accessible and audience-friendly to entering that arena of $50+ tickets and the hassles that ensue. . .it usually feels like a loss, although I am glad that they have 'made' it. . .in a way.
posted by Danf at 9:57 AM on September 3, 2003


Two problems that I see here:

1) Now the less fortunate fans (financially) have no chance of getting tickets. At least they currently have the possibility of camping out for good tickets, and those who don't want to camp out can pay a scalper. Both groups have their shot, but not once this auction system goes into place.

2) Ticketmaster also owns Ticketweb, and between the two of them have control over a huge number of smaller venues as well. What happens when they decide to auction all of the tickets for a 250 person venue that's expected to sell out when Mates of State roll through town?
posted by mzanatta at 10:00 AM on September 3, 2003


When exactly would be the best time to stop the auction?
Two minutes before the concert?
One week before the concert?

What to do if you want to be SURE about your ticket 3 months in advance?
posted by asd at 10:01 AM on September 3, 2003


The idea that you're arguing that there's no problem a band couldn't play a 40,000-seat stadium because there are "other musical venues" is so insulting to both your argument and our intelligence that I simply refuse to believe you actually believe that.

Why would I think it's a problem that people might have to go to a 10,000 or 5,000 person venue, or however many the basketball dome at Rutgers or some other school will hold in concert mode, instead of a 40,000-seat stadium? (if Rutgers and other public schools have exclusivity contracts for concerts, well, they shouldn't, being public and all, but then again it is Jersey)

The core problem here, to the extent that there is one, is that most popular music caters to young people (teens, college students), almost all of whose income is disposable, who have very intense tastes and preferences, and often have poorly-developed abilities to prioritize spending, so they're willing to pay preposterous prices. As long as there are (mostly)kids willing to pay $BIGNUM for tickets to the latest thing, there's going to be a strong incentive to extract that amount from them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:11 AM on September 3, 2003


So if they can auction them, so scalping tics would be officially legal?
posted by tomplus2 at 10:12 AM on September 3, 2003


Jeez people. If you don't like something, dont participate in it. THAT's market pressure. All folks have to do is refuse to go to the show(s). You can be bloody sure that after, oh, one or two times, Ticketmaster, etc. will pretty much get the message. What, people just CAN'T survive without seeing Dave Matthews (or whomever) for the umpteenth time? It's a CONCERT, not heart surgery!

If someone wants to pay $500+ for anything short of front row seats to the Second Coming, that's their choice. I think they're morons, but hey... you cant blame Ticketmaster for trying. Caveat emptor. There's a sucker born every minute. etc. etc.
posted by elendil71 at 10:27 AM on September 3, 2003


If they're going to auction the "best" tickets, they ought to auction the "worst" ones

Yes, they should and it is in their own best interests to do so.
If people think seats are worth what the venue was going to charge anyway then the venue still gets the money.
If enough people are prepared to pay more, then the venue makes more than it would have done.
If people weren't prepared to pay the previous fixed price then the venue can fill the empty seats at some level of revenue that the customers are prepared to pay.

The venue wins any way, the consumers are better off the thrid way, equally well off the first way and, as a group, financially worse off the middle way (though you could argue that there are factors at play in this last group other than the fiscal).
posted by biffa at 10:40 AM on September 3, 2003


that prime seats at the hottest concerts are "undervalued in the marketplace" and auctions are likely to push prices up as a whole.
What seats are they talking about? All, good seats only or promotion seats, best kept secret.
The promotion seats; reserved for "the band" seats, front row area & sale the day of the concert was your last place to go and usually the best ticket price seats.

Remember the days you could line up to buy tickets; first come first serve, and usually always had great seats being an early bird. Now it's lottery wrist bands because the insurance companies don't like people spending the night parked out front of their stores. Blame them, they are the one's whom opened the door to the scalpers then whom have shown this to TM.

The scalpers work by the car loads, so they seem to have a better chance getting the lucky wrist bands today. Then e-bay opened an avenue for the wider scalping distribution so TM master copied it. Hopefully the promo seats won't be affected since you buy them at the venue. The article lacks in figuring this out though.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:57 AM on September 3, 2003


most popular music caters to young people (teens, college students), almost all of whose income is disposable, who have very intense tastes and preferences, and often have poorly-developed abilities to prioritize spending, so they're willing to pay preposterous prices.

And these are the same people who will then have to be responsible for following through on the auction, meaning either getting mommy and daddy to use credit card to pay for tix or shuffling off to a bank/post office and getting a money order and mailing the payment. Not many teens today have checking accounts. Also, just from my experience on eBay, the P.O. HAS lost payments I have sent, so what happens to said ticket buyer who mails a paper payment and then it gets lost? Unless the whole thing is digital, they would need to end auctions weeks before the concert in order to ensure that they get paid and tickets get delivered on time. There would have to be a system where the payment was immediately taken from a credit card upon the winning of the auction, otherwise there is too much opportunity for dead beats to welch. And then what happens? Tix get re-auctioned, or sold to the next highest bidder?
posted by archimago at 11:04 AM on September 3, 2003


archimago:
There would have to be a system where the payment was immediately taken from a credit card upon the winning of the auction, otherwise there is too much opportunity for dead beats to welch. And then what happens? Tix get re-auctioned, or sold to the next highest bidder?

My guess is that the bidder would have to have a "profile" registered on Ticketmaster before bidding. TM already has a system where they will store your credit card info for "convenience" a 'la Amazon. Many other non-eBay auctions have a similar registration system. I assume they would then run your credit card before finalising your bid. If it was declined and the winner didn't offer another card to try, the tix would probably go to the second-highest bidder.
posted by sixdifferentways at 11:32 AM on September 3, 2003


Now at $75 and rising. woohoo!
posted by FreezBoy at 12:42 PM on September 3, 2003


Freez, when are you closing your auction?
posted by Spacelegoman at 1:02 PM on September 3, 2003


This is why their nickname is Ticketbastard.

(And what mr_crash_davis said. I'd be interested to see what would happen if they auctioned off all seats online, from the nosebleeds to the front row, all starting at $1.)
posted by Soliloquy at 1:05 PM on September 3, 2003


Perhaps one of the biggest mistake that economists make is in conceiving humans as tending to make rational decisions when it comes to purchasing. A very interesting exercise we did one time in a psych class was an auction in which two people who were very friendly to each other in general, ended up bidding in excess of $8 for an ordinary $5 bill just because once they were committed, winning was more important than the value of the $5 bill. I suspect that part of why ticketmaster is doing this is because they end up getting more money out of it, and free publicity when someone notices fans beating the last most expensive ticket record.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:10 PM on September 3, 2003


I don't care what they do, just as long as they take all the fun out of it.
posted by Witty at 5:11 PM on September 3, 2003


biffa: TM would not entertain auctions if they didn't think that, on average, their revenues would increase. And their revenues can't increase without concertgoers paying more in the aggregate...
posted by micropublishery at 5:22 PM on September 3, 2003


Just because something ivolves a business fucking some regular people does not make it "classic free market phenomenon"

THANK you.
posted by scarabic at 5:38 PM on September 3, 2003


skallas, I know a retailer in my city that sells through ebay. Goalie equipment. He has a large store also. Definitely he's reaching buyers who aren't close by and worldwide where no retailer exists.

ROU, easy-peasey?

I haven't purchased from TicketMaster in quite some time. I'm allergic to those large stadium rock-outs. They're shit. The sound quality sucks and the view? What view?

I prefer the more intimate venues where prices aren't outrageous for some old geezer "rockers". Sheesh. Too much good music to see those stadium shows, really folks.

Aren't the majority of ticket prices determined by the amount the band wants/charges? What percentage of a seat price does TicketMaster take? If it's less than 15% then it looks like fair dinkum. Does the onus not fall on the band's themselves?
posted by alicesshoe at 7:21 PM on September 3, 2003


Oh, if only it were less than 15%. I recently bought two tickets for Blue Man Group, October 4 at White River Amphitheatre in Auburn, WA. Tickets were $55.50 each. Service charge was $8.90 each, plus a $3.90 order charge. That's 19.5%.

Ah well. At least I got ninth row center. :)
posted by kindall at 8:40 PM on September 3, 2003


I honestly don't think consumers would benefit from competition in the ticket broker business, though bands would. Nobody's going broke on these big tours, therefore it proves that people will pay large amounts of money for concert tickets, therefore (since there's a limited supply) the costs will be high... no matter what. More ticket brokers would be a good deal for the band, but the bands will still be out there to make as much money as possible, which is still what people will pay... therefore, ticket costs remain the same.
posted by dagnyscott at 9:18 PM on September 3, 2003


And I, for one, welcome our new TicketMaster overlords.
posted by Fofer at 11:56 PM on September 3, 2003


Meet the new TicketMaster overlords, same as the old TicketMaster overlords.
posted by kindall at 12:30 AM on September 4, 2003


biffa: TM would not entertain auctions if they didn't think that, on average, their revenues would increase. And their revenues can't increase without concertgoers paying more in the aggregate...

I agree totally, and in two of the circumstances I outline TM are better off, in one by getting higher prices for some tickets and in the other by shifting tickets for lower prices on seats that would otherwise be standing idle. In the first situation the overall costs to the consumer are higher, in the second situation, consumers who would previously not have bought tickets get to have them at an acceptable price. In the first situation however, where demand outstrips supply and thus where scalpers can prosper, it should be noted that the costs might effectively be borne by the scalpers with the consumers paying what they would previously (ie to TM +scalper mark-up) and TM getting the money instead of the scalpers.
posted by biffa at 5:29 AM on September 4, 2003


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