In the not too distant past, if one wanted to go see their favorite band, or any band for that matter, all they needed to do was make the proper arrangements and set aside the proper time to que up outside their local ticketing outlet and chances are, you’d end up with a ticket. It might not have been where you wanted to sit, but you were in the arena and that was good enough. With the advent of the internet and much of the ticketing going the way of online, as all things have, this process became a bit tougher, but also a bit easier. Now there was no more waiting outside; you could simply wait in the comfort of your own home or wherever you happened to be and when the magic on sale time came about (usually 10am local time) you’d press some buttons and your tickets would magically arrive at your mailbox; your real mailbox, not your email mailbox.
But that’s not really the case anymore. For while the internet has made the process of vying for tickets easier; the fact is, tickets have been harder to procure. Especially for the larger more popular acts of the day. How is that? The secondary ticket market has become even larger than the regular ticket market at this point. So much so that even the main ticket issuer, Ticketmaster, is in the business of selling tickets that have already been sold to others, but who want to sell them back….at a much higher rate. What’s up with that?
Case in point…a friend was mentioning to me that he was on StubHub, one of the largest and most popular of all secondary ticketing companies just the other day. He noticed that there were already a number of tickets being sold for Bruce Springsteen’s concert at Madison Square Garden in NYC at the end of January 2016. Now this wouldn’t be shocking, but the reality is that tickets for this show haven’t even gone on sale yet. How is that possible? If the ticket holders are lying about having these tickets, then StubHub should be doing their due diligence and not allowing tickets from shows not already on sale to be posted to their site. And if these ticket holders aren’t lying, and they already have in their hands or were already promised these exact seat locales, then something’s clearly amiss with the ticketing industry in general in that it’s clear that there’s lots of hands in the ticketing pie. Hands that have special access to tickets that the ordinary person doesn’t. Thus putting them at a clear advantage. How is this legal? Shouldn’t the secondary ticketing agencies be held accountable for this?
Many moons ago Pearl Jam and other artists brought this up to Congress, but nothing really was done. There’s not many ways around this it seems. When Bruce Springsteen first played Madison Square Garden the tickets were sold via a lottery where you snail mailed in your money order and if they chose your envelope, your tickets were sent to you. If not, your letter would be sent back. I actually procured two tickets to a December 1980 Springsteen show that way. I ended up giving them away. You’re welcome Doug Moore.
Concert ticket prices are high enough without having to contend with the exorbitant mark up on the secondary ticket market. But like all things in commerce, the market is strong and robust and as long as it remains that way, there’s nothing much to do about it. On The River album, Bruce Springsteen sings about The Price You Pay. Indeed.