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Author Topic: Concert ticket scalping
Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12492
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 05-03-2018 11:25 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is an article from Billboard about Taylor Swift's concert tour - seems there are lots of seats left over, due to scalpers scooping up most of the good seats and now they can't sell them because Taylor won't let Ticketmaster display the scalped seats on their websites.

I know this is nothing to do with the movie theater industry but it's really an interesting development. I personally am pissed that in order to get "good" seats at a big concert, you have to pay some scalper who runs a bunch of bots three times the face value of your ticket. But what can be done about this scourge? Probably nothing, because (as this article reveals) Ticketmaster makes more money on scalped tickets than on unscalped ones.

To me it seems like requiring a picture ID proving the person who is using the ticket is the one who bought it would be a solution.

By the way, this is from the Billboard Bulletin, so there's no point placing a link to it because the link would be dead in a couple of days when their next bulletin comes out.

TAYLOR SWIFT TOUR ISN'T A SELLOUT... SCALPERS HAVE PLENTY OF SEATS

A lack of sellouts for tours led by Swift and Jay-Z
highlights a growing competition between artists
and scalpers.

When Taylor Swift’s team negotiated with
Ticketmaster last fall to power the Taylor Swift
Tix platform for her Reputation Tour, there was a
sticking point, sources tell Billboard: Her camp didn’t
want the ticketing giant to display tickets resold by
scalpers alongside her primary tickets when she put
them on sale to the public.

But Ticketmaster, which reaps bigger margins
from secondary sales on its platform than it does
on primary sales, argued that showcasing resale
seats out of the gate would increase traffic and lead
to more primary ticket sales, prevailing on a deal
point that ultimately allowed season ticket holders,
brokers and fans with early ticket access to resell
thousands of seats on the same platform where Swift
would sell tickets to fans who hadn’t participated in
her music – and merchandise-boosted presale.

Having buyers visit Ticketmaster’s website, only
to find a show is sold out with no ticketing inventory
available, is akin to “putting up a Closed sign and
telling them to go to StubHub,” said Michael
Rapino, CEO of Ticketmaster parent Live Nation, in
a January interview with Billboard.

But as Swift gears up to take the stage at University
of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on May 8,
none of her shows have sold out, with thousands
of tickets still available in some locations. Under
pressure from her team, Ticketmaster reversed
course on April 27, turning off the resale ticket
listings for her first nine shows and reducing prices
in many markets as part of an effort to sell remaining
inventory. The tour has since seen a significant
lift in primary ticket sales, sources tell Billboard.
(Ticketmaster, tour promoter AEG and Swift’s camp
declined to comment.)

The reversal comes as Live Nation faces
increasing scrutiny over its market power as the
world’s largest concert promoter; its Ticketmaster
unit has steadily increased its share of North
American music ticketing, inking a deal on April
30 with venue operator SMG Europe’s
U.K. venues including Manchester
Arena, the site of the May 2017 attack
on an Ariana Grande concert.

An April 1 New York Times article alleging possible
antitrust violations sent Live Nation’s stock
tumbling 13 percent, prompting a race
between attorneys to certify a class-action
lawsuit on behalf of shareholders. (Live
Nation denied the allegations, and in a
blog post, Ticketmaster president Jared
Smith said that his company’s dominance
“is the result of Live Nation’s ongoing
commitment to invest hundreds of millions
of dollars into Ticketmaster.”)

As for Swift, her 51-date stadium run will
still be one of the top tours of 2018 and the
highest-grossing one of her career, with
more than $240 million worth of tickets
already sold and $300 million projected
to sell in total. But the lack of sellouts has
given other artists pause about utilizing a
similar strategy, highlighting the growing
competition between acts and scalpers on
the same seating charts.

“Artists are seeing the money Taylor
is bringing in, but they’re also seeing the
negative headlines,” one national promoter
tells Billboard. “If it’s a choice between
making more money or avoiding bad press,
some artists will take less just to ensure
tickets quickly sell out and there isn’t any
chatter about soft demand.”

JAY-Z faced such chatter on his 4:44
Tour in December 2017, with high-priced
tickets generating record grosses for the
rapper, but no sellouts — likely a product
of scalpers skipping the show because
they couldn’t make a profit. JAY-Z and
Beyoncé’s upcoming On the Run II
Tour also is seeing some softness in the
stadiums it’s playing this summer, with
plenty of tickets still available for the
tour’s U.S. opening in Cleveland (July 25)
and thousands of seats still up for sale
for second-night shows in cities with
two performances, including New York,
Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Artists have tried a range of tactics in
recent years to get their tickets directly
into the hands of fans before scalpers, who
make the most money when the demand
for tickets outweighs the supply of tickets
available to the public. Garth Brooks often
plays enough shows at each venue to
exhaust demand, believing that if there’s
always a ticket available on the primary
market, fans won’t have to buy from
brokers to attend. Bruce Springsteen, Harry
Styles, Dead & Company and Ed Sheeran
all recently utilized Ticketmaster’s Verified
Fan platform to reduce the resale of their
tickets; Eric Church has his managers at Q
Prime regularly comb ticket-sale reports to
identify and cancel tickets believed to be
held by scalpers.

Live Nation has increasingly tried to
contain the profits of companies like
StubHub and bought Tickets Now in
2008, eventually rebranding it TM+ as a
way to increase its share of the $8 billion
secondary market, and Ticketmaster and
Live Nation have been lumping primary
and resale tickets together. Often, when
consumers log into an on-sale, they
immediately find tickets listed by brokers,
season ticket holders and others with early
access to tickets.

But Live Nation’s listing of secondary
inventory on Ticketmaster when primary
tickets are still available has irritated some
promoters, who take a financial hit if the
primary seats don’t sell, and worry that
resale tickets could cannibalize sales to
their events. (Live Nation can mitigate
losses on tours it promotes with the resale
fees that it charges on Ticketmaster.)

Artists don’t earn money directly from
the reselling of seats, but in an April
meeting with Billboard, Smith said that
some of the income generated from
secondary tickets was used for search
engine optimization, which lifts primary
ticket sales. Because margins are so small
in primary ticketing, he said, the only
revenue available for marketing tickets
comes from the fees the company charges
for secondary tickets. Secondary sales also
offset the costs of Verified Fan, slowing

ticket sales over multiple days to root out
scalpers and resellers. Monitoring sales
transaction by transaction takes significant
resources, said Smith.

David Marcus, who oversees Verified
Fan, said in January that the goal of the
program was not for a Swift show to sell out
seconds after going on sale, “but to sell the
last ticket to her concert when she takes the
stage each night.” Whether her tour will be
able to achieve that goal now remains to be
seen.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10727
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 05-04-2018 12:14 AM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Anything that results in scalpers being stuck with unsold tickets and then taking a financial bath only fills me with joy. Because fuck scalpers. They have been a scourge of the concert business for decades. But they have taken their shit to an other-worldly level using the Internet and other computer-based technology.

The situation is bad enough that I don't even try to buy tickets to arena-based concerts or shows in big venues anymore. I've given up on it. So, nearly all of the live shows I see these days are in smaller venues showcasing up and coming bands (or "dinosaur" acts decades past their prime).

Ticketmaster doesn't give two shits about the situation because they figure there will always be some hot music performer they can exploit for scalper money. If Taylor Swift does something to disrupt the flow there will be 99 others that won't.

Perhaps the music acts themselves are concerned about how the concert business could change. So many people are cocooned into their homes, streaming all their movies and music there legally or illegally. Why leave the house? Shit, why leave the house to see someone perform live if the only way you can get tickets is via a scalper charging $200 a pop for nosebleed seats? The artists tend not to make a damned dime off album or song sales due to the creative accounting work by the music labels (they learned a few tricks from the movie studios). Concert ticket sales are the bread and butter money for many bands. If their customer base is furious from scalper abuse that's going to be bad for business in the long run.

If I had my way I'd make scalping a crime and even have it fall under the RICO category.

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Sean Weitzel
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 611
From: Vacaville, CA (1790 miles west of Rockwall)
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 05-04-2018 02:37 AM      Profile for Sean Weitzel   Email Sean Weitzel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I haven't bought a ticket for a popular live show directly in years. Pink Floyd's 1994 Oakland show was the last time I was able to directly acquire a ticket after waiting in line for 9 hours in a parking lot. You're right. All the seats sell out and you have to resort to Craigslist or StubHub. But my experience has it's benefits. I'd rather pay a little extra and not have to stress about dealing with a lottery or other nonsense to just easily purchase a ticket. I have too much going on to wait in a 9 hour line to get a ticket to a show I want to see. My time is worth the extra hassle a reseller adds onto a ticket.

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2012


 - posted 05-04-2018 02:56 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Those ticket sellers are just lazy. They just want to sell as many tickets as possible with as little overhead as possible.

If they really wanted to, they could eliminate the problem of ticket scalping, they could even benefit from it themselves:
They could also auction off a bundle of those tickets themselves, to the people who are willing to pay a premium on top of those tickets... at least that beats the uncertainty of some stupid lottery or stupid shit like waiting in a virtual queue for hours to get a random time slot of a few minutes to buy a ticket...

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Lyle Romer
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1383
From: Davie, FL, USA
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 05-04-2018 06:51 AM      Profile for Lyle Romer   Email Lyle Romer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Marcel Birgelen
Those ticket sellers are just lazy. They just want to sell as many tickets as possible with as little overhead as possible.

If they really wanted to, they could eliminate the problem of ticket scalping, they could even benefit from it themselves:
They could also auction off a bundle of those tickets themselves, to the people who are willing to pay a premium on top of those tickets... at least that beats the uncertainty of some stupid lottery or stupid shit like waiting in a virtual queue for hours to get a random time slot of a few minutes to buy a ticket...

Ticketmaster sort of does this. I don't know why they didn't do the same thing with Taylor Swift. In 2016 and 2017, I bought tickets for Guns n' Roses. For both shows (Orlando in 2016 and Miami in 2017) they wouldn't release all the seats for sale at once. Sections would be sold out one day and then rows would appear a week later.

Also, for tickets near the front, they would sporadically release "platinum tickets" that were priced higher than the standard tickets but cheaper than the scalper tickets. They advertised the fact that those tickets were priced dynamically.

Doing that type of sale is the only thing that gives Ticketmaster an incentive to cut down on scalping. For a normal ticket, they can get paid twice for the same ticket when it is scalped through their resale channel.

Eliminating scalping would be simple if they wanted to do it. Make the tickets non-transferrable and require ID on entry. Allow the tickets to be assigned to somebody other than the purchaser at the time of purchase only. That would eliminate scalping.

Music acts need to protect their concert revenue. If people stop attending concerts in the numbers that they've stopped buying music, the only artists that will become rich anymore will be a select few superstars that can earn money doing endorsements/commercials or get paid to do social media.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 7130
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 05-04-2018 07:54 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The other perspective on this is the control aspect, which worries me.

One of the reasons the publishing, recorded music and media industries are trying to push us away from physical media and to streamed products is that it gives them the ability to do what Taylor Swift is trying to do with her concert tickets. I can lend, give away, or resell my book, BD, vinyl LP, and there is nothing that copyright law can do to stop me. The physical media is my property, to dispose of as I please. This is why, as noted on the thread about private film collectors, the legal harassment by studios has focused on the physical ownership of the prints rather than the IP angle.

With streamed media, however, the license to read, view or listen is tied to me only, and is completely non-transferable. Whatever the legalities of that are, the service provider has the means to enforce that electronically, and the only way of circumventing that requires me to violate copyright law (i.e. make an unauthorized copy). This even extends to beyond the grave: I can leave my book and record collection to my wife and/or son: my Kindle books die with me.

Therefore, what moral justification exists for preventing people from reselling their concert ticket to a third party after they've bought it, even if they do so in bulk? If you believe that it does, then by implication you should also believe that a very wealthy person buying ten homes and then renting them out, or a car dealership buying 500 Hondas and then selling them on at a 30% markup should also be regulated against.

If Taylor Swift doesn't want her fans to have to buy tickets from scalpers, the answer lies in her hands: play enough dates to satisfy the primary demand, so that they won't have to. If she chooses to create an artificial shortage of supply by not doing that, then IMHO she has no moral grounds to complain if scalpers come along and take advantage of that.

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Sam Graham
AKA: "The Evil Sam Graham". Wackiness ensues.

Posts: 1393
From: Waukee, IA
Registered: Dec 2004


 - posted 05-04-2018 08:28 AM      Profile for Sam Graham   Author's Homepage   Email Sam Graham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
THE HISTORY OF CONCERT TICKETS AND CONCERT TICKET SCALPING

-Scalpers buy bulk tickets at authorized outlets

-Scalpers sell tickets at inflated prices on street corners

-Al Gore invents the internet

-Scalpers buy tickets online

-Scalpers resell tickets online for insanely inflated prices

-Promoters bemoan the practice

-One promoter says "Wait a minute...if they're getting those prices for our tickets, why aren't we?"

-Ticket prices soar from average around $40 to what is now more like $100-$200, with new gold and VIP seating packages starting in the thousands

-Scalpers STILL make money

-Ticketmaster comes up with idea to give scalpers a platform and take a cut for themselves in the process

-Most of us pay more in "convenience fees" than we used to pay for the whole freaking ticket, which often cost as much as it does to fly to Vegas

-Everybody wins

The one thing I don't mind about Ticketmaster's reseller setup is I can often find a good seat to a show closer to the show date than the onsale date, and often the markup has dropped because the seat isn't selling.

Not that I actually go to a lot of concerts anymore.

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Lyle Romer
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1383
From: Davie, FL, USA
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 05-04-2018 07:29 PM      Profile for Lyle Romer   Email Lyle Romer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Leo Enticknap
Therefore, what moral justification exists for preventing people from reselling their concert ticket to a third party after they've bought it, even if they do so in bulk? If you believe that it does, then by implication you should also believe that a very wealthy person buying ten homes and then renting them out, or a car dealership buying 500 Hondas and then selling them on at a 30% markup should also be regulated against.
There absolutely should not be any regulation or law against scalping. It is completely up to the performer to do it for their fans. The performer essentially owns their performance and is giving you a license to come see it.

Your real estate/car examples aren't the same. The wealthy person or car dealership owns those assets and can do whatever they want with them to make money for themselves. The performer of a concert owns the "asset" of the performance and has the right to prevent unaffiliated 3rd parties from profiting off of their performance.

Ticketmaster's resale market is brilliant business by them. First they charge crazy convenience fees to the original purchaser. Then the charge even higher fees to resell the ticket.

If there was some way to easily implement ticket auctions then the market would take care of everything. If there was a minimum price for Row 3, seat 17 and then people could bid on the seat, the price would settle at what somebody is willing to pay to sit there. The problem is that it would be very difficult to implement as you'd have to bid for Row 3, seats 17 and 18 and then move on to Row 4, seats 28 and 29 etc. until you won a bid.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 05-04-2018 09:28 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
An auction thing could work. A local auction company here has gone almost exclusively to "timed online" auctions with "soft closings." An item will be scheduled to close at a certain time, but if anyone places a bid with less than a minute to go, it automatically adds another minute to the auction. Thus it truly goes on until people really want to stop bidding.

The only thing would be, you'd have to be able to sign up to bid on a "group" of tickets if you wanted to.

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Frank Angel
Film God

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 - posted 05-05-2018 12:05 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What used to REALLY piss me off years ago was, there were these enterprising youngsters who would buy concert tickets, as many as they could afford, waiting in line over and over, until they had as many they thought they could sell. Then on the nights of the concert, they would hawk them outside the venue in the hopes of making a bit of a profit. Problem is, venues like Madison Square Garden thought that wasn't good for business or they didn't like the "ambiance" of it all and so they lobbied the city to pass a law that made it illegal to re-sell tickets outside any concert venue. They would have cops on the scene to arrest these scalpers. Thing that was so unfair about that was, there were companies that bought blocks of tickets all the time and then resold them at a premium price. Nobody arrested those guys...why? because they were a BUSINESS...they had an office address and business cards? And their money gave them pull with the city council no doubt! So they got a pass, whereas the kid on the street got busted for doing EXACTLY the same thing.

I haven't heard much about it in years and that law may no longer be on the books (you would think something so unfair would have been challenged sooner or later) because now as is the topic of this thread, reselling concert tickets seems to be done routinely and with impunity.

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Louis Bornwasser
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 - posted 05-05-2018 12:18 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
They'll fix this problem or I won't ever again. I can buy terrible tickets myself, but all "the good ones" are bought up but rarely actually sold. I'm upstairs watching on the giant screen while 1200 good seats go to waste down below.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 05-05-2018 01:16 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Even here in Montana, a good concert will sell out in minutes. What's aggravating is, you're online at the moment they go on sale, you go through all the steps within 15 seconds, and you STILL wind up with crap seats. Because all the good seats went to "fan club" people, or "VIP" ticket buyers, or "pre-sale" people, or have been held back by the promoter.

I used to go to every concert I could, but now we go maybe once every two years or so, if that. I think the last show we saw was Chicago + Earth Wind & Fire, about 18 months ago.

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Lyle Romer
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quote: Louis Bornwasser
They'll fix this problem or I won't ever again. I can buy terrible tickets myself, but all "the good ones" are bought up but rarely actually sold. I'm upstairs watching on the giant screen while 1200 good seats go to waste down below.
If there are that many tickets unsold by scalpers then they will stop buying so many. More likely in a situation like that, those seats were held back by the promoter and released after people had already bought the bad seats meaning the promotor miscalculated when to release them.

A scalper needs to either sell a very large percentage of their inventory or acquire the inventory significantly under face value in order to profit. Buying up a ton of seats at face value (+fees) that they don't sell is not a viable business model. It would be like moviepass!

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Jay Glaus
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 - posted 05-06-2018 12:13 PM      Profile for Jay Glaus   Author's Homepage   Email Jay Glaus   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was involved in the concert business in the 80's and the promoter was normally not the one to blame. The act's hold so many seats mainly way too many then release them the day before the show. Some of that is by necessity. When we had stadium shows the good seats couldn't really be released until the stage was actually in place. and of course a lot of good seats were pulled before the on sale date for VIP, politicians , sponsors and the like. It may have changed over the years but I have been out of it since 2000.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
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 - posted 05-06-2018 02:26 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Leo Enticknap
Therefore, what moral justification exists for preventing people from reselling their concert ticket to a third party after they've bought it, even if they do so in bulk? If you believe that it does, then by implication you should also believe that a very wealthy person buying ten homes and then renting them out, or a car dealership buying 500 Hondas and then selling them on at a 30% markup should also be regulated against.
This isn't about one person who is well skilled at buying concert tickets, grabbing them up to re-sale a few at a time. I still think it's a dick move. A product being sold to the public at a certain face value (printed on the ticket) ought to be sold at that price without various middle men disrupting the transaction to get some money for themselves while offering no extra value for their cut.

My complaint is about the entire floor and lower level of seats disappearing the very instant the concert tickets go on sale. That tactic is off-putting, mass-scale bullshit. The practice often confines many of a performer's biggest fans to the nosebleed seats while the floor gets populated by a bunch of douchebags, many of which are obviously unfamiliar with the music.

Comparing concert tickets to real estate or automobiles is an apples to oranges comparison. The real estate and automobile markets are far more complicated. There are rules, regulations and tax issues regarding sales of autos and real estate properties. A rich guy can buy up a bunch of homes in an attempt to drive up home or rent prices. But he'll run the serious risk of losing his shirt with the market play. And then there's the risk of political fallout too. A great deal of voter anger is boiling up over the high inflation rate of housing and rent prices in many cites. Just a couple days ago I was reading how the housing market in Boise, Idaho has gotten ridiculous. Local residents are protesting against new development; their wages aren't keeping up with the exploding living costs. People working lower wage jobs in service industries are spending as much as 70% to 80% of their income on rent. That's pretty sadistic. I've been harping on the issue of an impending "baby bust" in America. Pricing gouging on housing is one of several factors that is turning parenthood into a very high priced luxury. And that will be very bad for our nation's future.

But back to concert tickets and scalping.

Concert attendance levels are actually up, which only encourages this scalping problem to get worse. However, the music industry can be an unpredictable thing. The public's taste in music can change quickly. Politics can influence content. Music product sales can tank. Today the music industry is selling far less product than it did 20 years ago. The performers seem like they're out of touch with their fans and what the fans can actually afford. Only occasionally we'll see a headline and some modest public backlash about fans getting locked out of their favorite performer's concerts.

The performers can indeed do something about the problem. I remember one Nine Inch Nails show I attended last decade (one in Oklahoma City that was recorded for a Blu-ray). Fans who registered at Nine Inch Nails web site were able to buy tickets in advance using authentication codes in relation to valid email addresses. The setup made it impossible for mass bot sales operations to buy entire blocks of seats instantly. If any scalping was going on it was taking place on a small scale since the buyers had to buy the tickets 1 or 2 at a time. My cynical side thinks this setup was made so the people in the floor section near the stage (and visible on camera) would be more lively than a bunch of yuppie douches.

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