When it comes to making money say yes, please, thank you

I don’t know many people who love Ticketmaster. Personally I put it in the box marked “necessary evils”…alongside things such as bathroom scales, dentist appointments, trips to the post office during the month of December…and of course the IRS here in America. I love going to concerts, but I do hate the process of actually getting tickets.

Back in my day (and probably yours), we had to camp outside of a Ticketmaster office in order to be in line for tickets. That was all fine and good until the powers that be decided to make it “fair” and hand out wristbands instead. Then all hell broke loose, and the “rules” depended upon what show you were trying to buy. In some instances, wristbands were handed out in some actual order. In others, wristband numbers were handed out randomly, so even though you might have arrived at 10am (or even the night before) and were first in line – you might have ended up with wristband number #238 or #10 or even #562. It was annoying and for a while, I actually stopped trying to go to concerts – it was more trouble than it seemed to be worth.

Nowadays, you get online, and you begin clicking ‘refresh’ at 9:58am (because you never know when tickets will go live a little early or when your clock is a little off – it happens!) and then pray to the concert gods that your request for two pit seats actually comes through.  Truth be told, mine NEVER did. Perhaps your experiences have been different over the years. Then something miraculous happened, and Duran Duran started DDM. Now while I am not a fan of DDM in most ways, I was at least partially appreciative of their presale tickets. I didn’t have to deal with Ticketmaster any longer and had a semi-decent shot of not only getting tickets, but being close enough to actually see the band. Then there were the VIP ticket offerings, and while I hated the price (and still do), I appreciate the fact that they are available through Artist Arena. I also appreciate that I can see what tickets I’m actually buying before I get to the venue or before I get my tickets in the mail. (Old DDM presales were not that way.)

So this morning, when I read this article about Ticketmaster, I have to admit that my first emotion was annoyance. The article, from motherboard.com, explains that Ticketmaster is well-aware that humans are in fact losing the human vs. bot race to get tickets. They are also well-aware that scalper-bots obtain 60% of the concert tickets out there, and that the goal for Ticketmaster is merely to slow the bots down, not stop them.

Rest assured, Ticketmaster is not trying to stop anyone from buying tickets. That means if you and your buddies have figured out a way to beat the system – Ticketmaster isn’t necessarily going to stop you. Let’s face it – their goal is to have the seats sold. They don’t care how or to whom, because it’s not their business. That’s just plain old dollars and cents.  They truly cannot worry themselves over whether Darla Diehard Duranie was able to click fast enough to get the front section of a show or if she’s sitting in the back, or maybe didn’t get a ticket at all – they just want the seats sold as quickly as possible, because the burn rate AFTER the first 35 minutes a show goes on sale (meaning the rate at which tickets are sold) drops like a cliff and I’m being pretty generous with that time table – I would bet that after about minute 19 they’re already seeing a significant drop in sales per minute. Why? For a lot of bands, if you’re not online within the first minute or so that a show goes on sale you’re going to get crappy seats at best. Duran might not necessarily be in that league today, but artists and bands like Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Radiohead, Bruce Springsteen, and plenty of others I’m not taking the time to mention still play ball in that game. So, after the first half hour, it becomes a case of “Well, should I even bother looking?” The sales per minute rate falls drastically, if there are still tickets left.  In the case of those big leaguers, there might not be – but for hundreds of other acts, the diehard fans buy their tickets first, and then whatever is leftover after that 30 minute mark gets sold at the rate of a trickle. So sure, Ticketmaster is going to sell to whomever comes to them with a credit card that works.  Their goal is merely to try and slow the bots down so that fans at least have a teensy chance in grabbing tickets. It’s reality.

The “fairness” of buying concert tickets on Ticketmaster has been a debate for as long as I can remember. If it wasn’t about camping out before tickets went on sale, it was about waiting on hold for an operator to get to you for your request, and now scalp-bots. Concert tickets are big business – even artists themselves consistently say that these days it’s about the touring – records don’t sell, but tours still seem to sell-out. Scalpers are going to take advantage of that, and to be fair – I don’t think there is really much that Ticketmaster or any other agency can really do. The technology moves too fast, and for Ticketmaster – those scalper-bots are fantastic customers. They buy in bulk.

So the next time DDM announces a presale, I’ll be sure to take a moment to extoll their virtues before cursing them for giving me 12 hours notice.

-R

6 thoughts on “When it comes to making money say yes, please, thank you”

  1. Amazing blog on a burning topic for every fan.
    I think that the growth of the social media is sort of slowly replacing the official channels of buying tickets.
    I think DDM urgently needs to fit to the changes of the new “social” era. Ha…
    My upcoming “concert ticket adventure” is to take part to the drawing on the Milan City Council intranet website, on the occasion of the Milan Depeche Mode date at the San Siro Stadium in July, as the City Council owns the Stadium. I must enter the competition by sending an email and at random 25 people will be chosen to get one ticket for free. The competition is closed, it's only for us employees. Wish me luck, thanks…!

  2. My experience has been that even if Ticketmaster says an event is sold out, it never actually is, and if you are willing and able to jump on tickets last minute, you can almost always get seats, and sometimes they are really good seats, better than those people may have bought when they first went on sale.

    I've done this with mostly sporting events. I've been able to get great seats for hockey games (opening night, playoffs) at the last minute, via Ticketmaster, when blocks of seats which were being held for whatever reason were released. Of course, the whole key is that you have to be able to drop everything to go to an event at the last minute. We ended up getting playoff tickets this year the morning of a game. It was great to be able to go, but it was also very hectic for us because we hadn't planned on it.

    I have never done this with concert tickets, mainly because of the fear that I may not be able to get tickets last minute and will be completely shut out. With a sporting event, if I'm not there in person, I still have the option of watching on TV. Not so with a concert. However, out of curiosity, when Duran toured last, I occassionally checked Ticketmaster just to see if new seats opened up. The week before one of the concerts, seats in the 10th row opened up. The day of the show, a couple of front row seats opened up. I couldn't change my tickets (I tried), so I stuck with what I had, because I wasn't about to buy another pair. The seats IMO were good seats (row 15-16 maybe), but they weren't 10th or 1st row!

    Exception to the above observations. Casino shows. Good seats are held as comp tickets for the high rollers and big spenders. You probably will not be able to get them unless you fall into one of those groups. However, at a casino (and only at a casino), if you have a lower priced ticket, and a more expensive seat becomes available, sometimes they will let you exchange for the more expensive seat and you just pay the difference. I was able to do this, and I am presuming it was because the tickets were being handled by the casino box office and not Ticketmaster. However, this only works if you are getting a more expensive ticket, if it just an even exchange, you're out of luck.

    -Susan-

  3. Unless we are willing to go back to the days of waiting in line, there will always be unfair advantages. It is disheartening that TM doesn't try to actually defeat the bots, yes. But why should sites such as StubHub even be allowed to exist? Tickets can't be scalped at many concert venues, why should they be able to be scalped online? For so much more than the purchase price?

    This is an entirely different can of worms, but even DDM has it's issues. I can't count the number of times I started hitting Refresh a minute before the sale only to find that as soon as tickets are available the best I get is not nearly so good as what I know (from other fans comments) was available. (As in getting no better than 10th row for Tier 1 or 3rd row for VIP) Then I started noticing that fans would mention having their computer open to the sale while the hubby and one or even two helpful kids also had laptops open ~ all logged under the fans name hitting Refresh so this way when tickets pop up the fan has not one but multiple ticket selections to choose from. And of course all the tickets that were released aren't actually available for another 10 minutes or so…. is it fair that one person can log onto the DDM website from multiple computers at the same time?

    Unfortunately, unless I am going VIP I almost never purchase tickets from the DDM site anymore. I *always* have better luck at TM. In fact, one year I got Tier 1 tickets which were in row 15, despite making my purchase the minute they went on sale. My father in law, on the other hand (who didn't know I already had tickets) bought me tickets at his local TM, which was located at the customer service desk at his small town grocery store. He bought these tickets a few days after the sale officially started and was able to get me 8th row. What the hell?

    Anyhow, off topic. But the onslaught of ticket requests from a single person on DDM always made me think of the bots that TM tries (or rather, doesn't) to keep away from their sites.

    Those of use who play by the rules will just have to hope for good luck 🙁

  4. All very good points, and not things that I really talked about in the blog, but yes – those problems absolutely DO exist. Bottom line is that there is no such thing as a level playing field in life. There just isn't.

    Funny, I don't think Amanda and I have ever logged into DDM at the same time to try and get tickets for the same show. We've never needed to do so, and for the most part – we've always done really well. We don't really have trouble like you're mentioning, although I am the first to admit that we've never gotten front row through DDM, although we typically do buy VIP every time. We've just learned its the only way. One thing that DDM could do (and it's VERY EASY to do) is to not allow multiple sign-ins from multiple IP addresses. It's an easy fix if someone over there cared to do it. Even *I* know how to do that – and I am not a tech goddess. 😀

    StubHub exists because people are willing to pay whatever they need to pay in order to have what they consider to be good seats. Is it fair? Well…I kind of feel that yeah, it is, at least in some respects. I mean, if I'm willing to pay someone an extra couple hundred bucks to be up front – then that's my problem, and my wallet that is feeling lighter. Is it fair to the band or the venue though – that's another subject entirely. Apparently Ticketmaster doesn't care about those parties much, because the scalper bots I'm referring to in the article are among those who populate the StubHub boards with tickets. (they aren't the only ones though, there are plenty of private parties who are selling just a couple seats or even single seats) Does all of that inflate ticket prices for everyone else though? I'm not sure. Somehow, I doubt it though – scalpers have been around since day one.

    Anyway, I think it's a good discussion to have. Thanks for commenting! -R

  5. Since I never got the chance to go to any concerts during the 80s, or before TM, nor am I very good with computers, when Duran Duran came here, I went to the casino box office to purchase mine. Though I called over a week in advance to ask exactly how much front row, or floor seating would cost, I was quoted the wrong price. So when I showed up at the box office the day the tickets went on sale with the money that I had saved to buy my ticket, I was told a much higher price by the woman at the counter, than what I was told over the phone. It seems that the woman on the phone didn't think to include some tribal fee in the price she quoted me, when I specifically asked what the full price was for a front row ticket. As you can well imagine I was furious, but I bought my ticket that day, because I didn't have anymore money set aside to come back, and purchase a closer seat, but one thing is for sure I haven't gone back to that venue, nor will I ever do so again, Tulsa Hard Rock Hotel & Casino made my first Duran Duran concert as unpleasant an experience as they could. But because our guys so seriously Rock, they made it worth all the crap I had to put up with from the venue.

    But honestly I really with we could go back to the days of camping out in front of the ticket office to purchase tickets, I never got to do that, and from the stories I've heard it actually sounded kinda fun.

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

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