Ticketmaster hits a new low - or have they?

In this article and, apparently, in the NY Times, ticketmaster has stated that they will start auctioning off the top tickets for concerts, with no apparent ceiling on how much the tickets will sell for. I assume that there will still be a majority of seats available in more traditional pricing, but the article doesn’t say.

I have nothing but ill-will towards ticketmaster as it is, so this comes as no surprise. What is surprising is the apparent tone of the article, making it seem as though a very large percentage of tickets for any particular show are purchased through scalpers, and that the “bands” aren’t getting their share. I have been to nigh 100 ‘events’ and have never purchased scalped tickets. Maybe I am abnormal…

I figure that ticketmaster has realized they can make even more service charge fees this way, and that is their only motivation. Ticketmaster has never shown interest in providing quality service (IMHO) and I find it difficult to believe that this is anything more than a cash grab.

Is this another example of “greedy corporations” trying to milk what money they can out of the “dying” music industry, or is it free market economics at work?

Evil? Sure. But look at what happened anyways. Professional scalpers got the best tickets for every event, put them on Ebay, and did the exact same thing. Now Ticketmaster is cutting out the middle man and keeping the graft for themselves. So as much as I do despise them for their anti-competitive garbage, I’d have to say this isn’t a real change to the system.

Just wait until they tack on a 10% service charge for the auction, on top of their current service charge.

Free market, and hooray for it. Given the right show, I will gladly pay substantial dollars for a premium seat. Indeed, if every seat were sold to the highest bidder, I’m fairly certain that the low-end seats you’re currently stuck in anyway would go for less than they are currently sold for.

As I noted in a recent CS thread, I recently bought 5th row center tickets at our local ampitheater on eBay for about $20 over face value. For those seats, and for that particular show, I was extraordinarily happy to pay that price. I believe most music fans would jump at the chance to purchase such tickets at that price. If Ticketmaster is going to give them that opportunity, instead of sticking them with $55 per crappy seat with no chance to negotiate, og bless 'em.

Fair point, minty but wouldn’t you rather pay face value for those tickets rather than a premium? I know many more peope that would jump at the chance to pay the set price for marquee seats. People resort to paying inflated ticket prices at scalpers because, well, that’s what the scalpers charge.

If ticketmaster was genuinely interested in cutting out the scalpers, they would be lobbying for tougher scalping laws, or imposing some kind of checks on who buys tickets and the quantity they buy in. But they aren’t.

What the big wigs at ticketmaster have done is look at eBay, realize that people are retarded (is this word severe enough to capture people’s frenzied, impulsive idiocy?) when it comes to buying (and selling) things on the internet and that ticketmaster, as an entity, would be able to bilk much more money out of the general public by resorting to auctions. Hell, they are probably setting up some off-shore gambling while they are at it.

While I can’t blame ticketmaster for this (hell, if it’s legal it’s up to the public to cry foul), I will be somewhat concerned if at least one Pearl Jam-esque band doesn’t stand up to object. The typical business doesn’t have the monopolistic leverage that ticketmaster has, and if it did I doubt it would be arrogant enough to flaunt it so.

“face value” is a somewhat meaningless term since it’s set by the people selling the product. They could just as well change the face value to anything. I like this idea because it eliminates (potentially) having scalpers snatching up all the good seats for profit. Since it’s an auction, there’s little reason for a scalper to think that buying them will be profitable, and the tix will go directly to the end customer.

Today, low face value tickets are bought up by scalpers who are willing to go the extra mile because profits are available. They have techniques open to them that the average concert goer doesn’t, and they snark up the tickets, leaving the average Joe with nothing.

I’d rather the money (some of it at least) go to the band and venue than some scalper who may have denied me the ticket in the first place.

I think it’s an awesome and praiseworthy thing for ticketmaster to do for much the same reasons minty and cheesesteak mention.

It will cut down on scalping because why would the scalper that wins the auction believe that anyone else would pay more for the ticket?

Also, the way to get a good seat now is to stand in line at ticketmaster with a cell phone calling ticketmaster and a friend at hoome on ticketmaster.com–it’s all first come first served. Auctioning off the best seats fufills the capitalistic ideal of making sure that goods go to those who can make the best use of the goods / who want the goods more, as measured by the amount of money one is willing to spend on the tickets.

Ticketmaster will of course make more money by doing the auction then not doing it (through some sort of new fee), but I feel that it will benefit everybody.

On a related note, it bothers the shit out of me how some (usually young, dumb, and full of blah) people hate “the corporations, man” for being “like, evil, and stuff . . .” Get a haircut and get a real job.

If the number of people that “would jump at the chance to pay the set price for marquee seats” is greater than the number of marquee seats, then the true value of those seats is greater than the set price. Because the value of the seats is greater than the set price, a scalper can make money on the arbitrage. In that case, a lucky few gets to pay less than the ticket is worth to see the show. (Or, they “pay” in the form of sleeping out in front of the ticket office.)

In my experience, scalpers charge what they can get. If there is enough demand for a ticket, then the scalper price will be higher than face value. If not, it may well be less than face value. I’ve often paid less than face value for an event by waiting until just prior to, or even just after, the event started – demand drops, so do the prices.

Ticketmaster’s plan is great – the true value of the tickets will be received by Ticketmaster rather than by a scalper, and, potentially more of that extra money will end up in the pocket of the performer.

I’m sorry, maybe it’s because I’m a liberal, but I don’t quite see how this plan will stop scalpers. As far as I can see, it will just raise ticket prices even further.

When all the tickets have been sold at auction (at higher prices), there will still be people who want them but don’t have them. They will naturally have to offer anyone who has tickets more than the price they paid. So scalpers will still have a market. And everyone will be paying much higher prices.

What am I missing?

I’m amazed that here we are, at the beginning of the 21st century, and people are still wondering whether capitalism is a good idea, and calling market-driven pricing “greedy”. Putting aside subsidies, rationing, and other market distortions, everything is an auction. If you go to a supermarket and buy some peaches, the price is determined by how much people are willing to pay. In the case of concert tickets, the market is so small and concetrated in time that the price changes are less subtle, and in fact in the case of an auction quite explicit.

I’ve been wondering for some time now why they don’t do this. The current method is bizarre. If people are lining up to buy your product, demand regularly outstrips supply, and there is a secondary market far in excess of your asking price, it would take someone amazingly clueless in the ways of economics not to realize THE PRICES ARE TOO LOW! It’s the Invisible Hand holding an Invisible Clue-by-Four smacking you in head.

If TicketMaster sells a ticket for $40, and later on a scalper sells it for $100, that means TM just gave the scalper a gift of $60 (well, actually the producer/band/label/whoever gave a gift). They might as well take a wad of twenties and start handing them out on the street (but only to the people that have been sleeping on that street for the last two days, of course). I guess they have right to do that if they want, but it makes no sense to me. And it really doesn’t make sense to me that people think that they have an obligation to do so. But if the band is concerned about looking greedy, I suppose they could give the extra money to a worthy charity (scalpers don’t strike me as a worthy charity).


By “people who still want them”, do you mean “people who are willing to pay more than the final selling price”? If so, why didn’t these people make a higher bid? Am I missing something here?

The assumption, commasense, is that the auction is wide open, so that your people who ‘still want them’ will continue to bid until they don’t want them at the available price.

Since the auction will be on the best seats, there will likely be arbitrage opportunity for the lesser seats. Those are less desireable and will command a lower premium. As a result, there SHOULD be less scalping opportunity overall. This isn’t a complete solution, but I think it’s a nice first step, even if it is just a money grab by the hated Ticketmaster.