let's get a few things out of the way, since the secondary ticket market is probably the #1 issue people on AP are uninformed about but love to run their mouth about it anyway.
1) Stubhub is not a 'scalper' or a 'broker.' They are a market place. They oversee the transaction between a seller and a buyer. They do not own inventory, they make money on the fees you pay when you buy tickets and when your tickets actually sell. Period.
2) Whoever said people buy "dozens" of tickets is a fucking idiot. Everybody seems to think that just because they type in "gaslight anthem tickets" into google and 20 websites with 100 tickets come up, that the entire venue was sold to people attempting to make a profit on the show. FALSE. Ticket brokers work in networks, just like any other industry - the tickets you see on one broker website will be almost the exact same inventory you see on another site, aside from the price because each broker can set the mark up on their specific website. Those same 100 tickets are just posted all over the web and the guy who is actually holding them gets called when a customer wants them. Period.
3) BLAME THE BAND. It's common sense; the best way to combat a hot show is to add more shows. If the Gaslight Anthem added 2 more dates at Williamsburg Hall, the supply would go up and the prices would drop dramatically. Or, they could move to a larger venue. If they choose not to, they will have a lot of pissed off fans.
4) Anybody that thinks that anything more than a handful of tickets to an ARENA show gets into the hands of brokers directly is simply misinformed. Sure, ONE or TWO brokers in NY might have a contact that gets him a few tickets ahead of time. That's just the way the world works - connected people with money get things. Fact of life. But that number is so small, it can't be something to get upset over. If anything, this happens in sports more than it does in concerts - plenty of teams (The Redskins are a big one) have been caught selling tickets directly to brokers for an initial mark up or physically held back their own tickets to list on Stubhub. This happens significantly less in the concert industry.
5) "going paperless" is not always the answer. Fact: brokers can use VISA gift cards to buy paperless tickets and when they sell, they can ship the customer that gift card to allow them entry. There are ways around everything. Can a band make it difficult? Absolutely. But when a band goes out of their way to make something difficult for brokers, they make the end experience for their fans a pain in the ass, too. ie: what if I'm a real fan, the show is paperless, and I want to give the tickets to a friend as a gift? It's a pain in the ass, if not nearly impossible to do this as a normal fan.
6) a presale selling out immediately means nothing. Sites like artist arena and front gate put MAYBE 50-100 tickets total out for a presale. Normally closer to 50. So yeah, 25 people got in and got 2 tickets in 10 seconds. Really not that big of a deal.
7) Every single thing you buy all day is marked up at some point. Gas, groceries, repairs, etc. If things weren't sold at a profit at some point along the way, the entire business state of America would collapse. I understand the frustration about tickets specifically because it "seems to easy," or "i could do that" mentality, but when the demand for anything outweighs the supply, there is a small portion of people willing to pay more than the 'face value' of a product in order to have it. It's the same way when a popular tech item such as an iphone or new gaming system comes out and there just aren't enough to go around.
8) Calling a broker an asshole for marking up a ticket 200% instead of 75% is asinine. Tickets, like most other things, are sold at a market value - that is, the value people are willing to pay for them. If people are only willing to pay 50 bucks over face value, that is where the market would sit. If you want to blame somebody besides the band for booking a venue too small or only one date, blame the people buying the tickets at 230 dollars because it tells brokers that at least at this point in time, there is a market for such a market up because sales are happening. If they aren't purchased at $230, they will drop until they reach a point where they do start selling. Again, simple economics. The consumer buying the product determines where a market settles by buying or refusing to buy.
I have never understood why people get so worked up about tickets being re-sold at a profit, but nobody ever complains about people that buy houses to 'flip them.' Same idea, different industry. Sure, you COULD have bought that house in 2008 when the market sucked and flipped it for 50K profit in 2012. But you didn't, for whatever reason. The person that did put their money on the line and took a risk - and it happened to pay off.
I never seem to see people complaining when the 'scalpers' took a chance on a tour that bombed, and you're able to get into a sold out show for 50% face value. There was a Bruce Springsteen show a few weeks ago where you could get in the door for 20 dollars if you wanted to, because the demand just wasn't there. Didn't see anybody complaining about that when the tides are turned and the brokers who put their money on the line got fucked and lost money and scalping helps the consumer win.
The bottom line is that ticket brokers provide a service to people that are interested in paying for it, plain and simple. Ticket brokers aren't the SOLE reason you are missing the show if you didn't get tickets - blame the band for not playing enough dates in a specific market or playing a venue that is too small for their popularity level. Blaming brokers for "buying up the venue" is assuming that had they not done so, those tickets would be in YOUR hands, which is like saying if a certain number of people didn't buy a lottery ticket, yours would have been the winner automatically. Unrealistic and completely assumptive.
I'd go on, but this already TL;DR.
Agree with most things here -- except the "blame the band" mentality. If a tour is plotted months in advance, just 'adding two dates' to a show doesn't always work.
Also, a mark-up on products -- in the marketplace -- is different than the secondary mark-up. If someone removes supply (buys a lot of tickets), they are artificially increasing the cost of the item. Is it legal? Currently, yeah. But that doesn't mean it's not a problem or worth looking at ways to mitigate it.
Lefsetz has a pretty idiosyncratic style, but he's usually worth reading (as most industry people do). And his point on this subject is hard to argue with; there are ways to prevent scalping already available. Most acts just don't care enough to force their usage, very likely for self-interested reasons.
Yeah, I know ... I read him too ... he's just very hard to read.
What bothers me about it is that it takes the position that all bands know this and don't care because they're complicit in the "game" -- that position bugs me as it assumes the worst in people. I'm willing to give artists the benefit of the doubt when they say they're looking into ticket scalping. Like John Mayer ... who then did go paperless.
Still not a perfect solution ... but, at least they're trying.
agree with you and realize you are also knowledgeable on this topic. I realize "add more shows" is easier said than done - shows are booked months in advance and the venue could be booked solid. But somebody at Gaslight camp has to have a hand on their popularity and be smart enough to realize that either the band has to originally book 2-3 dates, or they need to play a larger venue. If neither of those are possible, they need to put SOMETHING (will call pickup, immediate entry, etc) in place to prevent this from happening. Trying to do something about it after the fact is never the right decision.
On your second fact, people just have it built into their heads that ticket brokers magically get their hands on "tons" of tickets, which is rarely the case. Does it happen? Yes, but since most brokers are using the exact same methods the common fan is to buy tickets (ticketmaster, pulling manually with possibly a few employee's help), they aren't artificially inflating the market. If a Brand New show at Hammerstein Ballroom (capacity: 3000) sells out in 2 minutes and 100 tickets (3%) of the tickets show up for re-sale...you are basically saying that brand new would not have sold those 100 tickets otherwise. They would have. The show would have sold out regardless in almost the same time frame.
But I see what you are saying. There are things to put in place to heavily curb this. Jack White's recently announced show at Webster Hall (capacity: 1500) in NYC next Friday, for example. It had a 2 ticket limit, will call only and you have to (or so the venue claims) enter the venue immediately after ticket pickup, so as to prevent "handing off" tickets that you have no intention of using.
Gaslight Anthem saying they have "little to no control" over ticket limits through Ticketmaster is a blatant lie. There is a reason that a band like One Direction had a 4 ticket limit and a no namer has a 99 ticket limit. If the promoter tells Ticketmaster only 4 tickets can be purchased at a time, that's what it is. Period. It sounds like, much like the infamous LCD Soundsystem fiasco, that the band simply doesn't have a huge grasp on just how popular they are.
I agree, and hope they're capable of finding a solution like that.
I would like to say few bad apples ruin it for all, but I don't want to be naive. On the other hand, I can't imagine bands at an earlier career stage (Gaslight Anthem) would do this.
Yeah, I've read those ... I just prefer to not make the assumption that it means every single band is doing it. I'd rather assume the best in them until it's shown that they're engaging in this kind of behavior.