On April 29, English band Bastille will play in Atlanta as a part of their first ever American tour. With their sudden popularity in the U.S., inexpensive ticket price and a relatively small venue choice, many fans were expecting the concert to sell out within a few weeks. What no one was expecting was for the tickets to sell out in a matter of hours. This would be fine if the tickets had gone to fans, but fans were not the cause for the quick sellout.
Instead, scalpers had bought over half the tickets, selling them on sites like stubhub.com for over twice the price. This is not a problem because fans did not get tickets—that happens for almost any show—but rather it is a problem because Bastille may be playing a sold-out concert to a not-so-sold-out venue.
Looking online today, over 125 tickets are still available, priced as high as almost 28 times the original asking price. Whom does that benefit? True fans aren’t getting to see the show, and the band is left looking at empty seats in a supposedly packed house. With the success of sites like StubHub, it does not look like resale sites will be going away any time soon, so something needs to change on the seller’s end to stop the gross over-inflation of ticket prices.
Recently, Ticketmaster has implemented a system called Credit Card Entry. Essentially, it ties any tickets to the credit card they were purchased on. All the concert goer has to do is bring the card to concert and he or she will be able to get in. While the system sounds restrictive, it ultimately prevents the mass buying and reselling of tickets. The ability to resell and transfer tickets is directly related to the popularity of tickets, the choice of venue and the time of sale. For more popular shows, earlier on in the selling period, the tickets are bound to the card. This ensures that people who are actually going to show up at the concert are the ones buying the tickets.
For the most part, the Ticketmaster system is one that I think should the paradigm for the industry, but ultimately, the system fails in the event of a personal emergency. With other tickets, if you find out you cannot attend the show, you can easily post and resell them. With Ticketmaster, however, some shows will never allow ticket resale or transfer. While you can insure your tickets for a fee (it tends to be around $7.00), the lack of transferability results in the same problem that the Bastille show may have—a sold-out show with empty seats. By implementing a system that ties the ticket more directly to its owner, companies can ensure that they are getting the bulk of the ticket profits. Perhaps by allowing late stage resale for all shows, they could almost completely resolve these issues.
All I know is that I would much rather have a few empty seats from the people who couldn’t quite make it to the show than a mostly-empty theater because of high ticket resale prices, leading to a disappointed band and a lack luster concert.