Nov 152011
 
Authors: Matt Miller

When it comes to purchasing tickets, we’re not all created equal. In fact, when we go to the box office, the simple rules of supply and demand are thrown out the door for shady dealings our mothers would frown at.

This has never been more apparent to me than when I sat in front of a computer in a futile attempt to buy Radiohead tickets this weekend.

When the band announced last week they would be playing the First Bank Center in March of 2012, my boyhood dreams had come true. Radiohead hasn’t played in Colorado since 2003, and I’ve never seen them live before.

Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. on Saturday. By 9:50 a.m., I was on the website that was selling the tickets refreshing the page. For an agonizing 10 minutes I refreshed that page. When the moment hit, I typed in the gibberish words verifying I was human, chose best possible tickets, clicked submit –– and they were sold out.

I was shocked, confused and hopelessly depressed.

The First Bank Center holds up to 6,500 people, and in less than two seconds not a single ticket was available.

Where did they go? Who bought the tickets? They couldn’t have just disappeared.

With the tickets gone in thin air, my next option was to buy tickets second-hand through a ticket broker website.

Immediately after tickets sold out, scalpers were charging up to $1,200 for general admission seats to Radiohead. This is 20 times more expensive than the original $60 asking price.

This, I learned, is the music ticket industry –– making it nearly impossible for the general public to purchase tickets at a reasonable price, if at all.

Before tickets go on sale, pre-sales take place where a privileged, select few get the chance to buy them exclusively –– I know of at least two that happened for Radiohead.

With this pre-sale method, only a fraction of tickets are available to the general public when they actually go on sale.

Another main problem is the after-market ticket brokers who inflate prices, control most of the tickets and cause most of the stress for the buyer. What’s worse is some artists sell tickets directly to brokers before they go on sale to the general public.

So as I sat awake earlier than usual on Saturday refreshing the page to get Radiohead tickets, I already didn’t have a chance. The ticket I wanted had already been sold in a presale or to a ticket broker.

Late last month, the online New York City publication, Gothamist.com, ran a story about a NYC councilman who proposed legislation to make ticket selling more fan friendly. This legislation was brought up immediately after Radiohead tickets went on sale in New York, and fans had the same experience that I did.

What was fittingly called the “Radiohead Law,” “would require venues with 3,000 or more seats to be forced to reserve at least 15 percent of their tickets for the general public, available at the box office.”

The article went further to point out that artists like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift sell their tickets to secondary markets at higher rates. The article said, “DNA Info reports that in 2009, Taylor Swift only made 1,600 of 13,000 tickets available to the public; when tickets sell out in mere seconds, it creates more buzz for the artist.”

If the New York councilman wants 15 percent of sales to go to the general public, how many tickets are available to us now?

Appeasing fans doesn’t matter anymore –– money and fame matters.

But it doesn’t need to be this way. There is a solution to the ticket sale black market. Make it a socialist market, not a hierarchical one.

The Radiohead Law is a step in the right direction. Make tickets available to the common people like myself, the fans, the ones artists should care about.

Opponents of this law, like Ticketmaster, say this will just give scalpers more of a chance to get their hands on tickets. This can be fixed too. First off, artists can stop selling directly to scalpers, and box offices can actually monitor how many tickets per customer they sell.

Also, ticket broker websites can grow a soul.

Ticket broker websites could adopt some sort of ethical code that puts a cap on their markup. Instead of allowing prices to soar 20 times higher than the cost of the original ticket, maybe they could sell a $60 ticket for no more than $120.

We could even go one step further and ban them entirely. If I can’t buy a CD and sell it for twice the price, they shouldn’t allow tickets to be resold.

The live music industry must get away from this business model that resembles a drug cartel. They need to think about what really matters: the fans and the music.

News Editor Matt Miller is a junior journalism major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:45 pm

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