The Lefsetz Letter today was pretty good:
The Metallica Ticket Fracas
I'm shocked, positively shocked I tell you, that Metallica was caught scalping its own tickets. What kind of bizarre business do we have where ticketing is opaque and every customer can't sit in the front row for fifty bucks?
Come on kids, not only does scalping your own tickets go back generations, it's been proven ever since the digital era that the concert ticket industry doesn't want to explain itself to the hoi polloi, never mind a government that can't understand it and is always one step behind, like Ticketmaster is with the bots.
The truth is scalpers provide a service.
And in this case, the scalper LOST MONEY!
Sure, the scalper got good tickets, but he also had to take bad ones. Kinda like the days of cut-outs, when retailers had to take the bad with the good, hoping the good would sell enough to cover the cost.
But the real truth is customers no longer care. They understand the game. And it's only the once a year people and the nitwits complaining. And once you pay attention to the nitwits, the one percent that is vocal, the tail is wagging the dog and you've lost control of your business.
Unless you're a pop star, probably with an evanescent fan base, depending upon whether you have a hit, there's this belief that the acts and its fans are in it for the long term and must respect each other. Ergo, fan club ticketing. You want your fans to be taken care of. And if you don't...there is blowback. However no one has been able to quantify that blowback, because certain individuals complain so loudly and others don't at all.
And speaking of the blowback, not only are we not living in the twentieth century, we're not even living in the aughts, and if no one amplifies a story, it doesn't spread and it dies. You may not know what I'm talking about right now. And I won't even bother to include a link, let's see how interested you are in Googling and reading a couple of thousand words... I doubt it, you just don't care enough, you're paying attention to much more important issues, those that interest you and those relating to the nation at large.
Furthermore, understanding the modern paradigm, no one is blowing this story up. Everybody is remaining silent. Live Nation, Metallica, the individuals involved. Unless you pour gasoline on the fire, it dies out. And people move on. The story is lost in the endless river of information that overwhelms everybody on earth.
Meanwhile, the guy who released the taped phone call, Vaughn Millette, broke the code, and only for his own purposes. He will be shunned for it, the same way Kirsten Gillibrand has been for kicking Al Franken out of the Senate. It's a club I tell you, and you don't want to break the norms unless you're willing to be frozen out.
And how do you think Live Nation pays so much money, and beats other promoters for the tour.? This is how that additional money is made! It's a negotiation between the promoter and the act. Someone's got to pay the freight.
And the act is in control. This is one of the greatest subterfuges of all time. Everybody believes it's Ticketmaster, acting independently, when the truth is Ticketmaster just does what the act wants, Ticketmaster takes the heat for the act. Fans just cannot believe their favorites are about the money when they're about the music. But we're not living in 1969 anymore folks, no one is saying music should be free. As for the Napster era, that was a result of a technological change that caught the purveyors off guard. They kicked and screamed and then changed their business model.
Now if concert tickets weren't moving, this wouldn't be happening. But demand is insane.
And the truth is everybody wants an inside connection, everybody wants to buy tickets on THEIR terms. Who knows what you'll be doing in six months when the date plays? Better to buy from StubHub or a scalper just before the date. And the price can go down, as it did for some seats in this transaction.
You want to take risk off the table, especially with stadium dates. You want guaranteed money in the bank.
And the media has demonized paperless and the fans hate it because they can't scalp the tickets themselves and...oftentimes it turns out there isn't such hot demand anyway, that the on sale, where the bots go crazy, heats up the market beyond reality.
And you like that Amex or Citi gives you advance chance.
And no one is publicizing the number of tickets actually available on the on sale date, often de minimis.
And now we've got platinum if you really want to sit in the front row, or close thereto. Superfans can pay.
I'm not telling you all of the above is good, I'm just telling you it's the way that it now is. And both bands and fans have adjusted to it.
You're always gonna get people complaining. But the truth is if this was really news, it would go viral. But it hasn't, not yet.
As for the agitators... Do you think you're entitled to a BMW at KIA prices?
Furthermore, the people buying from the scalper are willing to pay the freight, they're not complaining. One can even argue they're doing the fans a favor, making the rest of the seats cheaper. And the truth is acts never scalp the very best tickets, because they want their fans up close and personal.
Will there ever be sunshine in the ticketing business?
When acts are not worried about appearing greedy and every show is a guaranteed sell-out with no transferability and no uplift.
And if you think that's gonna happen...