Ticketmaster has become the scalper

Tickets don’t have “face value” anymore.

If you have tried to attend a popular concert, you may find that they are now using variable pricing. This means that there is no official face value for a ticket and the price of the ticket is whatever Ticketmaster thinks the market will bear. This allows Ticketmaster and the artist to now get the money that might have gone to a scalper.

Awhile ago, I participated in the presale for Taylor Swift and when I got my chance to buy tickets I was not offered any decent seats, only seats in the nosebleed section and I didn’t get to select seats by charts. I got seats for $80 in Seattle. It looked like all the other sections were already sold out. But when it went out of presale to the general public, those seats became available. This means that Ticketmaster sold all their really bad seats to the poor loyal fans who were desperate to buy a seat. That’s really rotten to only sell the worst seats during the presale, I would have paid more for a better seat but couldn’t. Then Ticketmaster raised the price to scalper levels during the general sale. The ticket I bought for $80, now sold for $158. Now $158 for the worst seats in the house is quite the outrage, but people were still wiling to pay that, so even scalpers buying lousy tickets for $80 were able to make money. As the concert date approached , prices dropped to $125. Taylor swift also opened up new 2nd shows such in venues such as San Jose. The presales started even higher at $114, but tickets were still at least $200 in the resale market. Then 3 months later as Ticketmaster could see they were not selling enough tickets for the 2nd concert, they radically dropped the ticket prices to $45, drastically undercutting any of the resellers. They even ran a sale on tax day where they waived their outrageous service fees — and still tickets were not selling. Ticketmaster set a minimum selling price of $96 on resale tickets sold on their site making it impossible to compete. Then they removed all of their resale tickets from the web site, eliminating their competition completely. So all those scalpers got stuck with those $114 presale tickets and the only place to resell are places like Stubhub where the prices are around $45. Minus Stubhub selling fees, a reseller would not get much back. And still — tickets did not sell. The 2nd San Jose concert looked to be at least 25% unsold. So if Taylor wanted to stick it to the scalpers, she certainly did that. I expect there was a race to the bottom for ticket prices for this event.

I think this venture for Ticketmaster/Swift to become the scalper just shows that not all of the seats at a concert can be sold at scalper prices which is what they tried to do. A large percentage still need to go to real fans at reasonable prices. Not everyone can afford scalper pricing. Going the other way around may actually net them more money, but may leave many unsold seats. But Ticketmaster and Taylor Swift don’t care, they don’t have to.

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