TR thoughts on ticket re-sellers / scalping
 
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03/15/09 11:50 AM

As we approach on-sale dates for the upcoming tour, I've noticed lots of you are curious / concerned / outraged at the plethora of tickets that somehow appear on all these reseller sites at inflated prices - even before the pre-sale dates. I'll do my best to explain the situation as I see it, as well as clarify my organization's stance in the matter.

NIN decides to tour this summer. We arrive at the conclusion outdoor amphitheaters are the right venue for this outing, for a variety of reasons we've throughly considered*. In the past, NIN would sell the shows in each market to local promoters, who then "buy" the show from us to sell to you. Live Nation happens to own all the amphitheaters and bought most of the local promoters - so if you want to play those venues, you're being promoted by Live Nation. Live Nation has had an exclusive deal with TicketMaster that has just expired, so Live Nation launched their own ticketing service. Most of the dates on this tour are through Live Nation, some are through TicketMaster - this is determined by the promoter (Live Nation), not us.
Now we get into the issue of secondary markets for tickets, which is the hot issue here. The ticketing marketplace for rock concerts shows a real lack of sophistication, meaning this: the true market value of some tickets for some concerts is much higher than what the act wants to be perceived as charging. For example, there are some people who would be willing to pay $1,000 and up to be in the best seats for various shows, but MOST acts in the rock / pop world don't want to come off as greedy pricks asking that much, even though the market says its value is that high. The acts know this, the venue knows this, the promoters know this, the ticketing company knows this and the scalpers really know this. So...

The venue, the promoter, the ticketing agency and often the artist camp (artist, management and agent) take tickets from the pool of available seats and feed them directly to the re-seller (which from this point on will be referred to by their true name: SCALPER). I am not saying every one of the above entities all do this, nor am I saying they do it for all shows but this is a very common practice that happens more often than not. There is money to be made and they feel they should participate in it. There are a number of scams they employ to pull this off which is beyond the scope of this note.

StubHub.com is an example of a re-seller / scalper. So is TicketsNow.com.

Here's the rub: TicketMaster has essentially been a monopoly for many years - certainly up until Live Nation's exclusive deal ran out. They could have (and can right now) stop the secondary market dead in its tracks by doing the following: limit the amount of sales per customer, print names on the tickets and require ID / ticket matches at the venue. We know this works because we do it for our pre-sales. Why don't THEY do it? It's obvious - they make a lot of money fueling the secondary market. TicketMaster even bought a re-seller site and often bounces you over to that site to buy tickets (TicketsNow.com)!

NIN gets 10% of the available seats for our own pre-sale. We won a tough (and I mean TOUGH) battle to get the best seats. We require you to sign up at our site (for free) to get tickets. We limit the amount you can buy, we print your name on the tickets and we have our own person let you in a separate entrance where we check your ID to match the ticket. We charge you a surcharge that has been less than TicketMaster's or Live Nation's in all cases so far to pay for the costs of doing this - it's not a profit center for us. We have essentially stopped scalping by doing these things - because we want true fans to be able to get great seats and not get ripped off by these parasites.

I assure you nobody in the NIN camp supplies or supports the practice of supplying tickets to these re-sellers because it's not something we morally feel is the right thing to do. We are leaving money on the table here but it's not always about money.
Being completely honest, it IS something I've had to consider. If people are willing to pay a lot of money to sit up front AND ARE GOING TO ANYWAY thanks to the rigged system, why let that money go into the hands of the scalpers? I'm the one busting my ass up there every night. The conclusion really came down to it not feeling like the right thing to do - simple as that.

My guess as to what will eventually happen if / when Live Nation and TicketMaster merges is that they'll move to an auction or market-based pricing scheme - which will simply mean it will cost a lot more to get a good seat for a hot show. They will simply BECOME the scalper, eliminating them from the mix.

Nothing's going to change until the ticketing entity gets serious about stopping the problem - which of course they don't see as a problem. The ultimate way to hurt scalpers is to not support them. Leave them holding the merchandise. If this subject interests you, check out the following links. Don't buy from scalpers, and be suspect of artists singing the praises of the Live Nation / TicketMaster merger. What's in it for them?


[online.wsj.com]

[www.boston.com]

[articles.latimes.com]

[www.econtalk.org]

[seattlepi.nwsource.com]

[www.stanford.edu]

[usgovinfo.about.com]

[blogs.consumerreports.org]

[www.dailytexanonline.com]

[news.google.com]

[www.financialpost.com]

[www.wisegeek.com]

[en.wikipedia.org]

[online.wsj.com]

[online.wsj.com]


* I fully realize by playing those venues we are getting into bed with all these guys. I've learned to choose my fights and at this point in time it would be logistically too difficult to attempt to circumvent the venues / promoter / ticketing infrastructure already in place for this type of tour. For those of you about to snipe "it's your fault for playing there, etc... " - I know it is.

 

03/15/09 11:55 AM

For those of you about to snipe "it's your fault for playing there, etc... " - I know it is.

-I'm sorry

 

03/15/09 11:56 AM

thank's for the explanation.....



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2009 11:57AM by yuyo.

 

03/15/09 11:56 AM

FUCK scalpers. DO NOT buy from these greedy pricks


BTW On a positive note: There are many fans in here that will and have sold their extra tickets for FACE value.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2009 12:16PM by bryantodd.

 

03/15/09 11:58 AM

trent_reznor posted:
My guess as to what will eventually happen if / when Live Nation and TicketMaster merges is that they'll move to an auction or market-based pricing scheme - which will simply mean it will cost a lot more to get a good seat for a hot show. They will simply BECOME the scalper, eliminating them from the mix.

I really hope you're wrong on this; the thought troubles me deeply. The music industry - as we all know - is pretty much screwed, I don't wanna see live music suffer in the same way.

 

03/15/09 11:59 AM

That makes a lot of sense, thanks for the post

 

03/15/09 12:00 PM

It's too bad you seem to be the only well known artist publicly fighting the large amount of corruption in the music industry as a whole. A large chunk of the internet community knows of the problems with the RIAA and their ilk, but I was unaware of the ties between promoters and scalpers until this post.

Thanks for the information and keep up the good fight.

e: You can be certain I'll be buying through your presale once Ohio dates are announced. The show at the Q last August was my first concert ever and I can't imagine any better experience.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2009 12:03PM by wolrah.

 

03/15/09 1:00 PM

Lordie. This mess has tentacles.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2009 12:02PM by Fragile_Shadow.

 

03/15/09 12:00 PM

That is too much for my brain to handle right now, but deserves further investigation. Thanks for being honest with us thumbs up

 

03/15/09 12:01 PM

Thank you for taking the time to explain all this. Its no wonder you want a break from it all.
Its really fucked that they continue to do this especially with all the crap going on in the economy. Im so sick of hearing that word "economy" but its true.

 

03/15/09 12:02 PM

Thank you so much for the explanation.

 

03/15/09 12:02 PM

Hopefully all those wanting to go to the NINJA tour is summer will be able to plan adhead and take advantage of the pre-sale that Trent has set up for us. See you all in Chicago and Noblesville.

 

03/15/09 12:02 PM

Just wondering what happens if you are not one of the few that get the 10% pre-sale tickets? You are then forced to buy an overpriced ticket?

 

03/15/09 12:03 PM

I hope that you use your hiatus to build your own set of venues across the world that are Ticketmaster/scalper-free.

Hey, I can dream big!

 

03/15/09 12:04 PM

bryantodd posted:
FUCK scalpers. DO NOT buy from these greedy pricks

I never have & never will buy from a scalper.

If you're gonna buy from a scalper then you're BEGGING to get fucked over.

I'm just simple. If I can't go, I can't go. I will not ever resort to scalpers.

 

03/15/09 12:04 PM

When are the tix for the may 12th show going on sale?

 

03/15/09 12:04 PM

Thank you for explaining it to us so well. We trust you and know you always have the backs of your fans. Looking forward to seeing you in Atlanta and Charlotte.

 

03/15/09 12:04 PM

great post trent. prince did a good job of almost eliminating the scalpers from a small venue here in sf years ago. we waited in line at 7am, got wristbands when we bought tix and then came back at 7pm for the show. this probably won't scale. it was a 250 person show at ruby skye.

 

03/15/09 12:05 PM

CharmlessMan posted:
bryantodd posted:
FUCK scalpers. DO NOT buy from these greedy pricks

I never have & never will buy from a scalper.

If you're gonna buy from a scalper then you're BEGGING to get fucked over.

I'm just simple. If I can't go, I can't go. I will not ever resort to scalpers.

Me too!

 

03/15/09 12:06 PM

extremely frustrating situation...

 

03/15/09 12:06 PM

FernandoDANTE posted:
WHERE THE FUCK did my post go?

I think I saw it over there somewhere -------->

 

03/15/09 12:06 PM

I guess it is a symptom of a monopoly which is screwthefanmaster. Seems like there should be a government type hearing on what they are doing ... but some fucking politician is probably getting some kind of monetary benefit ... bastards.

I'm glad for what NIN is doing with pre-sales ...

 

03/15/09 12:07 PM

whaaiiit a second.
seems like a real pest in the US and A.
anyone know how that works in europe? similar situation?
thanks for the insight.

 

03/15/09 12:07 PM

Thank you TR - I think we all understand having to pick our battles. I'm delighted and grateful to you for picking any at all.

 

03/15/09 12:08 PM

Thanks for the explanation. The whole ticketing business gets me so depressed now. When I saw NIN back in 2000 at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, I was right down near the front. I wonder if I'll ever have that experience at a big show again (NIN or otherwise) without having to fork over hundreds of dollars?

Trent, have you ever considered playing shows at alternate venues, along the lines of Radiohead?

 

03/15/09 12:08 PM

Goatamus posted:
When are the tix for the may 12th show going on sale?
May 11th tongue sticking out smiley

FernandoDANTE posted:
WHERE THE FUCK did my post go?

Over there

 

03/15/09 12:09 PM

Wow, thanks a lot for this. You really explained it well. Fuck scalpers, that whole situation is sickening.

 

03/15/09 12:09 PM

Very well explained and very enlightening. Thank you.

 

03/15/09 12:10 PM

sucks ,but if i want a Good view what the hay!thumbs up

 

03/15/09 12:10 PM

I think at the end of the day, the only way to solve this will be one of two ways, artists starting a co-op to negotiate these deals with collective bargaining or congressional action.

Pearl Jam did this about fifteen years ago, sat in front of congress, testified. Nothing happened. There has to be some serious effort of like minded people to compete against this, and getting a pool of musicians together to agree on anything is much like getting programmers together to agree on anything. A fucking nightmare.

On the flip side, there are some ways around this. I'm relatively obsessed with the idea of online streaming of concerts. It's something you could stream for free, and charge for high quality downloading later. The extra production cost would drive the price up, but the video sales would offset. Live video bootlegs isn't something I've seen before from any band. On the survey you sent out, I *think* that was one of the options. If anything throwing Rob on the stage seems to have been pretty successful. I think there's a market for it. Lead time at the outside if you got good at doing this would probably be a week. Although you would probably end up hiring someone to do the editing directly because I think the outlay with a company would eat your soul in costs. You could pad some of the costs into tickets, and then pad the costs using pre-sales online. Plus, people like me (Minot, ND) whose closest venue you're playing is well, 14 hours away by car. Would eat this shit alive.

The other thing would be opt-in smaller venues. You wouldn't be able to bring the entire stage show, on the flip side most people would be more than willing to pay extra for a smaller show.

At the end of the day I think the only solution right now is working around the system. It's also one of the few spots where I think "first mover" advantage would actually work instead of being some bullshit term.

Between, Sudjam, Rob, the camera gear you guys have laying around and adding another staff member for video editing you could pull the live thing off. The shit would end up being torrented. That didn't stop ghosts from sitting a top of the mp3 downloads chart at Amazon for a full year.

 
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