Monday, April 20, 2009

Ticket Scalping Is Easy to Eliminate: Raise Ticket Prices or Increase the Number of Shows

Tickets for my Edinburgh show are changing hands for £200 (almost $300). Please don't buy them. The people selling them are scum. I have tried to stop this happening but I can't. I've tried holding tickets back for sale on the night. I've tried putting gigs on sale at the last minute so people don't have time to put them on eBay, but nothing works. I'm flattered that anyone would want to see me that much but it breaks my heart that people spend their hard-earned money because of someone's greed. On my last tour one theatre manager excitedly told me that he'd just seen someone pay a thousand pounds for two tickets right by the ticket office. I think he thought I'd be pleased. I was horrified. Anyway please get a ticket but don't pay too much. That's all I'm saying.

Seamus McCauley of the Virtual Economics blog responds:

Want the after-sale ticket price to fall below £200? Put on more shows. You'll know you're doing enough shows when the price on eBay falls to the face value.

MP: Performers and their agents and promoters frequently complain about ticket scalping, and yet as Seamus points out above, they themselves have several potent weapons that would eliminate ticket scalping immediately. First, they could increase the number of tickets available by either: a) increasing the number of shows in a given city until the excess demand for tickets is eliminated, or b) move the show to a larger venue. Second, they could increase ticket prices closer to the market-clearing level and eliminate the re-selling of tickets at prices above the face value.

In other words the artists and promoters are themselves guilty of creating the market for ticket scalping, by not providing enough shows or tickets to meet the market demand and by under-pricing the tickets. Since Ricky Gervais' single Edinburgh show obviously sold out, he should either move the show to a larger venue or add additional shows in Edinburgh (assuming he is unwilling to raise ticket prices).

It seems disingenuous for musicians, artists and promoters like Ricky Gervais to constantly complain about ticket scalping when they have direct control over the two most important factors contributing to ticket scalping: a) the ticket price, and b) the number of tickets for sale. Eliminating ticket scalping should be extremely easy for them, by either a) raising ticket prices and/or b) increasing the supply of tickets.

Example: Eric Clapton is playing 11 shows in London during May at the Royal Albert Hall.


At 4/20/2009 9:16 AM, Blogger Christopher Monnier said...

To avoid looking money-hungry, artists could donate the difference between what they would like to charge and the market-clearing value to charity.

At 4/20/2009 9:24 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Personally I'm amazed that anyone would pay any amount of money no matter how little for a Gervais show... He's got no reason to whine...

At 4/20/2009 10:15 AM, Anonymous andrew said...

It's true... I've dabbled in scalping tickets. Usually just for shows I want to see and I make just enough to cover my evenings expenses. The only time I lost was on a big show at the eXcel Center in St. Paul. Even though the show sold out there were simple to many tickets available on the after market and I sold them for 1/2 face value.

At 4/20/2009 10:29 AM, Anonymous Norman said...

Sclap the sclappers, I say. I've done a lot of buying at venues and you can wait them out. Now, if you are bring a woman or your family or if you want to impress business people you'll buy early and buy high.

Solution: Let EBAY run an auction for you. All sports franchises should do this.

The Free Market works, let it do its job.

At 4/20/2009 11:14 AM, Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

The larger venue notion may work in two ways--the one you expect, and the one that would apply to me--I like small groups.

I go to "large venues" only under duress.

At 4/20/2009 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Easy solution? Double or triple the ticket price, then refund the price increase to those actually attending the show.

At 4/20/2009 1:54 PM, Blogger misterjosh said...

First of all, they are artistes! You're never going to get them to stop whining about something or other. Second, there are conflicting priorities here - minimize working, and maximize adoration. They don't want to work more and they don't want to piss people off.

This is all well and good, but it means that this cheap bastard won't be going to many shows any time soon.

At 4/21/2009 12:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That guy is just peeved that he can't price all of the tickets at market-clearing prices. Hearing an "artist" complain about people paying too much for tickets is comedy gold, since all of them aspire to the level of Streisand and whoever else charges astronomical amounts to the rubes who just have to "experience" the "artist" live. PT Barnum was a prescient dude.


At 4/21/2009 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can only expect an artist to spend so many nights in one place. They are wanted all over the world, so to ask anyone to keep adding shows is not viable. As for ticket prices and scalping? Hello, capitalism! There are so many people that get tickets BEFORE they go on sale - venues, corporate sponsors, and people with "friends in high places" among many many others. I am not sure how to do away with scalpers, but adding shows is not the answer. Back in 1983 (when the earth was still cooling), I stood in line, LONG before Ticketmaster, and slept on concrete in line at the San Diego Sports Arena to get tickets for Rush - it worked - I was third row center! Now, with technology and the ability to buy anything anywhere? Who knows who is buying what and for whom. I miss the good ole days - I'd sleep outside AGAIN for the FAIR chance to get great seats at face value. Remember supply and demand?

At 4/21/2009 11:04 PM, Blogger fgjkf said...

1. Ticket Vendors are most assuredly in collusion with the scalpers, especially TEXAS.

2.Dutch auctions would solve this problems. Artists and vendors could buffer this issue by holding dutch auctions for their events, or perhaps Goldman Sachs could underwrite the event.

At 4/22/2009 6:52 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Second, they could increase ticket prices closer to the market-clearing level and eliminate the re-selling of tickets at prices above the face value.

Hmmm, I might be wrong here, but I'd think they could probably also keep prices close to the same by offering a rebate -- up to, what, four per address -- on these "jacked up" ticket prices. By controlling the number of rebates per address they'd reduce the opportunities for scalpers to recover said money while letting legitimate purchasers get that extra money back. Take the expense of offering the rebate scheme out of the extra cost applied to the ticket. There are plenty of organizations that would take on this burden.

Am I correct that this would work? I'm not seeing a way it helps scalping, nor a way it wouldn't interfere with it if the higher prices themselves would.

> Easy solution? Double or triple...



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