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Administrative Fee. Service Charge. Facilities Tax. Double Eye Roll followed by an audible “you’re fucking kidding me, right” It’s a dance we’ve all admittedly done one too many times in the age of digital ticketing. While it provides ticket liquidity, ease of purchase and quick access to just about any event globally, it’s recently been leaving a raunchy taste in my mouth not unlike mixing week old, non-refrigerated tuna and a port-o-potty from Lollapalooza ’99. While there might be a reader or two into that sort of thing, I think the majority of us would be fine settling for a happy medium, let’s say a poorly made runny egg salad sandwich. Enough to gross you out but not before a bite or two under desperate circumstances.
For those that didn’t get the metaphor because it was poorly made, I’m talking about getting ripped the fuck off by these blood sucking “touts.” If you don’t know what a tout is, it’s because I ripped it from British vernacular. It toughly translates to individual assholes/collectives of assholes (read: companies) who engage in bending you over and making you their prison bitch by re-selling tickets for more than face value. In the digital world, this primarily relates to ticket bots that have the ability to purchase hundreds or thousands of tickets the minute an event goes on sale. In turn, all tickets for popular events tend to “sell out” despite a small percentage, or in a lot of cases, NONE actually go to people who want to attend.
Meanwhile stadiums, teams and artists have cozied up to these monster agencies because it makes all the financial sense in the world. They get to “sell out” their arena to third parties for face value while putting the blame squarely on them for jacking the rates higher than Amy Winehouse. What we end up with is a few entities (stadiums, teams, re-sellers, artists) making a hefty profit while the consumer is left with our proverbial dick flapping in the wind.
It’s a fucked up system and I think it’s time that the teams, artists and stadiums take responsibility and work to prevent or limit this sort of behavior. Indeed, there are already some that do. Comedian Louis C.K. is leading the charge in this area, which makes me love him more than I already do. Seriously, you should check out this clip …
A simple fix he is employing is have all tickets available at Will Call, thereby forcing the scalpers to physically show up at the event versus allowing them to move tickets via email. GENIUS. While this limits the ability for someone to transfer tickets to someone in case they can’t make an event (which by the way was the original purpose of StubHub), it creates a fair playing ground for people who ACTUALLY plan to attend the event.
While I don’t blame the re-sellers for doing what they do since it is not illegal, we need more artists, teams and stadiums to stick up for the CONSUMER and do what is right. Otherwise, we will keep having half empty stadiums for shows and events that actually SHOULD be sold out. See Beyonce or Rihanna being told the show is sold out only to see the stadium completely empty. It robs the fans and artists of a truly genuine experience.
While I’m not sure there is a perfect fix to the system unless government regulation puts their hat into the ring, I have an idea for a non-profit, charitable ticket re-seller. Call me crazy but why not have the stadiums, artists and teams sell their inventory to a non-profit who donates profits to charity. The goal of the company would be to keep the ticket pricing on the third party market artificially low to fuck over the companies that buy all the tickets and immediately raise the price 500% since there are no public tickets for sale. Call me Bernie Sanders but the current system puts puts rich people at the front of the line instead of giving all fans a fair shake. However, in my non profit scenario, everyone wins …. except the re-sellers.
Stadiums, artists and teams sell their tickets for face value to an organization that will donate to charity in a move that will make their PR departments happy. The general population can buy affordable tickets while also feeling good about their purchases. Tickets will be sold to people who WANT to go the show…and guess what? There will be more people in the stands which should lead to higher concession and merch sales. Who’s with me? #fuckstubhub
Orrrr we just go back to calling a box office and standing in line for tickets for 24 hours….whichever.