In theory, concert ticketing shouldn't be hard. What could possibly be easier than selling what are essentially pieces of paper to a community – not just any community, but a community of people who are actively trying to buy those tickets – at a lucratively high price?
And yet I can think of two recent cases of botched ticket sales, one involving Ticketmaster's handling of alternative band LCD Soundsystem's final show at Madison Square Garden, and one here at Geneseo with the recent Ke$ha presale run by the Student Association Ticket Office.
LCD Soundsystem released roughly 5,000 tickets in a Ticketmaster presale on Feb. 9. The tickets sold out within minutes. Shortly afterward, about 800 tickets showed up on StubHub – essentially eBay for tickets – with at prices averaging $200 each with some priced as high as $800 – a far cry from LCD Soundsystem's original modest $50 price. Two days after the presale, the remainder of the tickets went on sale through Ticketmaster and sold out immediately; predictably, around 2,000 of those tickets reappeared on StubHub at higher prices shortly afterward.
It's easy to see the problem here. There's a real crisis present when fans can't get tickets to their band's last show because scalpers seeking to gouge those fans get there first.
In this case, LCD Soundsystem got even angrier than the fans. James Murphy, frontman for the band, tweeted: "Hey @StubHub … I pretty much guarantee ‘fans' aren't pricing these tickets. You're barely legal and you know it." Murphy undertook steps to try to remedy the problem by announcing four farewell shows leading up to the MSG send-off and requiring Ticketmaster to employ measures like requiring photo ID and searching their online system for suspected scalpers before selling tickets for those shows. The band made sure fans were in the stands and that they weren't paying scalper prices to be there.
The SA Ticket Office didn't experience quite the same problem in selling the Ke$ha concert, but ran into a problem nonetheless. As reported in the Feb. 24 issue of The Lamron, more than a few Geneseo students were upset that they didn't get tickets at the two-day presale. The majority of tickets sold were priced at the general public rate – 1,600 versus 1,100 that were sold directly to Geneseo students.
Some students resorted to buying tickets off of eBay, where Ke$ha tickets were reportedly selling for as much as $150. My roommate paid another student selling extras a price he was too embarrassed to say. The concert is an SA-run event, and all measures possible should have been taken to get the maximum amount of tickets into the hands of Geneseo students.
LCD Soundsystem made sure to remedy the problem once it was noticed. It's likely SA won't have that option with regard to the Ke$ha concert, but organizers need to learn from the slip-up regardless. SA should extend student presale time to a week or longer and limit the number of tickets students can buy for their friends who do not attend Geneseo. Just as LCD Soundsystem made sure that fans, not scalpers, were the beneficiaries of tickets, SA needs to make sure that Geneseo students are able to get the tickets that their mandatory student activity fees helped subsidize.