Why Is It So Hard to Get Good Concert Tickets?
I remember sleeping out for tickets back in the day in order to get good tickets. There was a place not far from my house I could buy them and it was just perfect. We always got floor seats. Now? Tickets are sold out within five minutes. So, why is it so hard to get good concert tickets?
I remember sleeping out for tickets to Metallica, Guns n' Roses and Faith No More at the Metrodome in 1991. It was awesome. I was on the main floor, on the aisle. James Hetfield had burned his hand in a pyro accident and they had the lead singer for Metal Church taking over his guitar duties, so James was free to run around during the show. When they did Seek and Destroy, James ran RIGHT PAST ME. I thought I was going to die. I screamed so loud my voice was shot for days. It was one of the best concerts I've ever seen and I was right there on the main floor. Tickets were $29.50 and totally worth sleeping on a sidewalk for, but it saddens me to know that's likely never going to happen again in my lifetime. Why?
For example, the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul holds about 19 thousand people, but when tickets go on sale to the general public, a lot of times only a few thousand seats are available. So, what happens to the other 14 thousand seats?
Credit card presales are partially to blame. For many shows, a certain number of seats are set aside for card holders and fan club members, so when tickets go on sale to the rest of us, there aren’t that many left. About half of all of those tickets that are set aside end up in the hands of scalpers anyway. Many scalpers join fan clubs, but they aren’t actually fans. They just do it so they can sell the tickets for way over face value and make a huge profit. There are also usually only a certain number of seats you can buy with one card, so some have multiple cards in order to buy more tickets.
Did you know some bands actually scalp their own tickets? Some performers have a note in the tour rider that says a certain number of tickets be set aside for them and then they resell the tickets on the Internet. Most recently, pop tart Katy Perry was busted for doing it after the website The Smoking Gun got a hold of her tour rider in 2011.
The scalper bots are faster than you. Before you can even type your name, they’ve bought a thousand tickets because the programs are designed to butt in line and flood the site with as many requests as possible. That translates to scalpers not having to wait in line like you do when they buy tickets. They just let their computer do the work for them and they reap the profits. Many sites can catch the bots like the CAPTCHA program where you have to type in two words to get your tickets, but, scalpers get past that by hiring people to manually type in whatever they need to get the tickets purchased.
You always see ticket prices are $29.50 to $79.50 but after you’ve bought the tickets, you see a ton of fees added on to the base price so no matter where your seats are, you’re all paying the same fees. Back in the day, tickets sellers figured if you were willing to shell out for the good seats, you were willing to shell out the fee, too, so they jacked up the fees for closer seats which means the tickets cost even more now than they used to. Ticket sellers don’t always get that money, though. Some bands negotiate into their contracts that they get a portion of those fees. They save face by having lower prices, but then of course they jack up the fees and make the ticket sellers look bad.
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