48 thoughts on “Here are the key findings:

  1. I read this…have to say my conclusion is “so what”. Seems like they’re charging what the market will bear.

    I’d be hard put to name something better suited to full on free market supply and demand pricing than concert tickets. Concert tickets are the very definition of a discretionary luxury purchase. The only “fair value” a ticket has is “whatever someone is willing to pay to go”

    The idea that charging above Face Value means someone is getting ripped off makes no sense to me. It means “Face Value” is an utterly irrelevant number.

  2. Is price fixing really a free market enterprise though? I’m sure there’s a formula for figuring out what a base ticket should cost in a given seat (or seating area) vs. the demand of the artist. I agree, the whole thing seems shady but not with your assessment of “so what”.

  3. Jay Exonauts I don’t see any price fixing. I see not releasing all of the tickets at once, which this person views as artificially making it look like the show is on the verge of selling out, but which is a common practice to help customers get tickets who can’t get them the moment they go on sale by ensuring the WONT be sold out the first day.

    I see this:

    A pop-up window on the website notifies buyers that “Platinum Tickets are tickets that are dynamically priced up and down based on demand.”

    What the pop-up doesn’t mention is the original price, or face value, so the buyer is missing information to determine if they’re getting a good price.

    Which nonsensically equates “original price” with “good price”. A good price is “are you willing to pay it?” No one attends an auction and then complains that the price went up after the opening bid. Of course it did.

    And I see this:

    And CBC also found 120 non-platinum tickets that increased from $191.75 to $209.50 after the sale began.

    “That’s absolutely terrible. They should not be doing that,” Saulnier said. “They don’t need to be making this much money off a ticket just for us to see an hour show.”

    Which I totally get as a “man, that sucks, I can’t afford to go to the show” individual complaint. But which is utter nonsense as a criticism of a business practice. Bruno Mars has no obligation to price his performances cheaply. If he wants to charge premium prices (or more likely the promotors he hired)so that only rich fans get to see him in person…then he can. And people can call him out on it and he can shrug or fire his promotors or put on a free concert in the park, or whatever he wants.

  4. A pop-up window on the website notifies buyers that “Platinum Tickets are tickets that are dynamically priced up and down based on demand.” What the pop-up doesn’t mention is the original price, or face value, so the buyer is missing information to determine if they’re getting a good price. Which nonsensically equates “original price” with “good price”. A good price is “are you willing to pay it?” No one attends an auction and then complains that the price went up after the opening bid. Of course it did. And I see this: And CBC also found 120 non-platinum tickets that increased from $191.75 to $209.50 after the sale began. “That’s absolutely terrible. They should not be doing that,” Saulnier said. “They don’t need to be making this much money off a ticket just for us to see an hour show.” Which I totally get as a “man, that sucks, I can’t afford to go to the show” individual complaint. But which is utter nonsense as a criticism of a business practice. Bruno Mars has no obligation to price his performances cheaply. If he wants to charge premium prices (or more likely the promotors he hired)so that only rich fans get to see him in person…then he can. And people can call him out on it and he can shrug or fire his promotors or put on a free concert in the park, or whatever he wants.]]>

  5. Ralph Mazza I totally disagree. Ticketmaster effectively has no competitors, so there is no free market involved.

    There is a whole network of middlemen involved in concert ticket sales — artists generally have no choice but to use them or else not play shows, and fans can either pay their price or else not see the show. That’s bullshit.

    Oh, and god forbid you, the ticket buyer, try to sell those tickets for more than face value without getting arrested (meeting demand!). Ticketmaster and their resellers can do it, but you can’t. Also bullshit.

  6. Also this

    But as the next trick shows, Ticketmaster has an incentive for trying to drive up those prices — for its platinum seats, as well as for those scooped up by scalpers.

    That’s not a trick. That’s what every business hopes to be able to do. Generate demand so they can increase prices. It’s the very definition of pricing power.

    And so what if they collect service fees from both the original sale and the scalper resale. So does eBay. I buy something from you, eBay collects. I turn around and sell it to someone else, ebay collects again.

    I mean I get it. I’m pissed that families can’t afford to go see baseball games anymore they way we could when I was a kid. But no one is getting ripped off.

    There’s plenty of things in this world that qualify as “if you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it”

    I’ll get riled at jacking up pharmaceutical prices. But tickets? Hell, many concerts you can watch on streaming anyway.

  7. But as the next trick shows, Ticketmaster has an incentive for trying to drive up those prices — for its platinum seats, as well as for those scooped up by scalpers. That’s not a trick. That’s what every business hopes to be able to do. Generate demand so they can increase prices. It’s the very definition of pricing power. And so what if they collect service fees from both the original sale and the scalper resale. So does eBay. I buy something from you, eBay collects. I turn around and sell it to someone else, ebay collects again. I mean I get it. I’m pissed that families can’t afford to go see baseball games anymore they way we could when I was a kid. But no one is getting ripped off. There’s plenty of things in this world that qualify as “if you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it” I’ll get riled at jacking up pharmaceutical prices. But tickets? Hell, many concerts you can watch on streaming anyway.]]>

  8. and fans can either pay their price or else not see the show. That’s bullshit.

    Not seeing it. It’s only bullshit if you somehow feel entitled to see the show. The seat is filled. By someone willing to pay. That’s how it’s supposed to work. I don’t get to drive a Mazerati either.

    Oh, and god forbid you, the ticket buyer, try to sell those tickets for more than face value without getting arrested (meeting demand!). Ticketmaster and their resellers can do it, but you can’t. Also bullshit.

    I have a huge beef with licensing laws and the artificial constraints put on our ability to dispose of our own property, and our inability to actually own anything anymore. Absolutely.

    But that’s how it works today. I hate it. But Ticket Master isn’t ripping anyone off by doing things the way the law says they’re supposed to be done. “Scalping is illegal, so we created a verified resell system” Ticket Master didn’t invent that. Major League Baseball works the same way.

    We can agree on it being bullshit that I buy a thing, but don’t actually own it, so I can’t sell it. But until the whole shebang changes that’s how it is.

    That’s hardly unique to Ticketmaster. I should be allowed to buy a movie on DVD, then invite 20 people over to watch MY DVD in MY house on MY TV and charge them for it. But I can’t…totally illegal.

    Bullshit. But I chose to buy the DVD anyway. I didn’t get “ripped off”. It just doesn’t work the way I think it should.

  9. and fans can either pay their price or else not see the show. That’s bullshit. Not seeing it. It’s only bullshit if you somehow feel entitled to see the show. The seat is filled. By someone willing to pay. That’s how it’s supposed to work. I don’t get to drive a Mazerati either. Oh, and god forbid you, the ticket buyer, try to sell those tickets for more than face value without getting arrested (meeting demand!). Ticketmaster and their resellers can do it, but you can’t. Also bullshit. I have a huge beef with licensing laws and the artificial constraints put on our ability to dispose of our own property, and our inability to actually own anything anymore. Absolutely. But that’s how it works today. I hate it. But Ticket Master isn’t ripping anyone off by doing things the way the law says they’re supposed to be done. “Scalping is illegal, so we created a verified resell system” Ticket Master didn’t invent that. Major League Baseball works the same way. We can agree on it being bullshit that I buy a thing, but don’t actually own it, so I can’t sell it. But until the whole shebang changes that’s how it is. That’s hardly unique to Ticketmaster. I should be allowed to buy a movie on DVD, then invite 20 people over to watch MY DVD in MY house on MY TV and charge them for it. But I can’t…totally illegal. Bullshit. But I chose to buy the DVD anyway. I didn’t get “ripped off”. It just doesn’t work the way I think it should.]]>

  10. Is it, though? Maybe I’m out of touch with what Ticketmaster is hawking now, but I haven’t used them in years and it’s not for lack of going to concerts or other live events. Every ticket I’ve bought in recent memory has been through AXS.

    (And now comes the point where someone tells me that Ticketmaster owns AXS and it’s all the same shit under a different banner.)

  11. I don’t think it’s even a “major artist” thing, though. In the last year or so I’ve seen Kesha, Macklemore, Pink, Katy Perry, & Lady Gaga. All bought through AXS.

    I saw Penn & Teller earlier this year and that might have been through Ticketmaster. Not totally sure cuz my partner bought those tickets.

  12. If Ticketmaster isn’t the only game in town then I stand super-corrected.

    And it’s true that tickets are maybe the most indulgent, unimportant, unnecessary luxury indulgence and they should charge what the market will bear. Like games. We’re not entitled to our luxuries.

  13. isn’t the only game in town then I stand super-corrected. And it’s true that tickets are maybe the most indulgent, unimportant, unnecessary luxury indulgence and they should charge what the market will bear. Like games. We’re not entitled to our luxuries.]]>

  14. If Ticketmaster had a monopoly on performance I would totally agree. I do agree!

    But like… Monte Cook isn’t the only game publisher. Hard to blame them for charging $400 for Invisible Sun.

    Creatives can choose whatever distribution they want, yeah? I think lots of performance is available for a lot cheaper than a Ticketmaster transaction.

  15. Paul Beakley Ticketmaster does have a monopoly. Both TM and AXS make agreements with different venues, and their coverage does not necessarily overlap. (I’ve been digging around a bit.) I.e., there’s no guarantee that a consumer can choose on or the other for the same show. The venues and certain companies (like sports teams) make agreements as to who handles their ticket sales, and then you buy your tickets from that vendor. (And both jack you with lots of fees.)

    Yes, people can choose to charge whatever, markets, yada, yada. But the more accurate metaphor to me would be if there was only one distributor of RPGs, and they decided that ALL games should cost $400. Saying, “but markets” doesn’t make that any less ass to me.

    Plus: none of these shenanigans earn the artist any more money. It all goes to TM.

  16. The bit about it not going to the artists does chap my hide as well.

    Weird thought, I reflexively am repelled by it but MAYBE interesting: state vouchers for arts consumption?

    I suppose the closest we get is arts grants. Those seem weird and hard to get. Like, I’d love to apply for one in the realm of game experience design but I have no idea if that’s even a thing.

  17. There was a time — the ’70s probably — when tickets were reasonably priced and anyone could get a good seat by waiting in line at the venue. Sure, that was a pain, but I’m just saying, at least you were rewarded for being a fan.

    I guess I don’t see why that’s currently impossible. Enhance it with modern convenience (use your phone) and Bob’s your uncle.

    This is (one of) the shitty part(s) of capitalism. Any time there is demand for something, parasitic middlemen will insert themselves into the transaction. E.g., car dealers.

  18. I call foul on “parasitic middlemen”.

    Maybe, for the first time in history since the Neolithic, we are at a point where technology makes it possible for consumers to go right to producers.

    But aside from that caveat…historically…almost all value has been created by middlemen. Because all the tea in China ain’t worth shit in London, unless there’s a middleman bringing it there.

    The single most important element of trade isn’t production. It’s logistics. And nearly all logistics is the purview of middlemen. Middlemen aren’t parasites. They’re the people that make the world function.