In the last decade, the big ticket concert and sporting event markets has seen a massive increase in median price, and often in the case of concerts, a proportionate decrease in the value of the live experience itself. One company shoulders much of the blame for this. They have many nicknames, like the one above, or Ticketbastard, as I’ve also heard.
I’m not sure about other countries, but in Canada, Ticketmaster are an absolute bloody disgrace. Their top executives should be fired, tarred and feathered, and barred from making more than minimum wage for the rest of their worthless lives. I’ve seen corporations openly scam before, but these pricks have turned it into an artform. They’re so good at it, they may as well become a branch of government.
A ticket that costs $120 today may go for $1000 tomorrow. No exaggeration – this happened to my wife last week. Conversely, you may be charged full price at the time of onsale, only to find yourself next to someone at the show who paid far less because sales didn’t meet expectations, and ticket prices were slashed. Every show is different – there is no way to know what to expect, and a price range is rarely (if ever) displayed prior to tickets being onsale, so budgeting in advance isn’t really a thing.
Ticket prices are not meant to be on a sliding scale, they are meant to be a FIXED amount, never to be changed. The concert experience at larger venues has gone from being a fun escape – accessible to all but the utterly impoverished – to a stressful experience targeted at bourgeoisie fuckwits, who are more interested in getting drunk and filming the experience to brag to their friends about. I got a credit card solely because without one, you can forget about seeing a big arena or stadium show from anywhere but the rafters.
Of course, I have a Visa, which means I don’t ‘deserve’ good seats as much as an American Express holder. Seriously, presales exclusive to Amex holders at metal shows? I remember when presales were exclusive to fanclub members only, as they still should be, but no, let’s invite a bunch of rich casuals to take their spot. Odds are they will be the exact kind of people who ruin the experience – rich, sloppy drinkers who treat it as just another night out, ruining it for those who actually care about the time and money spent.
Then there’s the phones. The same ones that have plagued concert viewing already for the last decade. Every other ticket provider offers a printing option, but now Ticketmaster only allows you to use your phone for entry. So if you opt not to have a phone – as a shockingly large percentage of the population still does, believe it or not – tough shit. If you like to leave your phone at home to mosh, dance, or actually just WATCH the show, too bad. Of course, you can’t bring a purse or handbag large enough to fit phones at many large arenas now, so really you can’t go to a big event without deep pockets, literally and metaphorically. We wouldn’t want people actually having fun, immersing themselves in the experience now, would we? If your phone dies or glitches on the way to or at the show, your loss, no refunds. Ticketmasturbator still gets paid.
It’s all to protect against scalping and fraud, they say. Ironic, given that they allow resale of tickets ON THEIR OWN SITE, with no cap on inflation. They’ve sold entire floors of arena shows to Stubhub bots in the past the second they were made available. I’ve seen tickets that cost $140 at the seat selection phase, only to suddenly be $420 at the point of final purchase (I didn’t go, of course).
The reality is that despite the diversity of music and other events promoted under their banner, Ticketmaster wants only one kind of customer: Dumb young money, the kind that cares more about getting wasted and playing around on phones than being present in the live experience. The traditionally working and middle class experience of live music and sport already has VIP packages, corporate boxes and premium seating to cater to the wealthy – leave the regular seating alone.
It’s like Ticketmaster have seen the way that Apple trained their customer base, and tried to follow suit, fucking up mass market ticketing much like the rotten fruit did for tech. A day or night out is almost an exercise in poor shaming; If it’s that hard to get good, fair priced tickets for just one or two people, doing it for a family or other groups must be damn near impossible.
The prohibitive costs, reinforced by the parasitic resale markets (both legal and otherwise), have also led to a lot of empty seats at big events. I keep hearing about shows being sold out, but there are empty seats in prime positions at every one I see, be it wrestling on TV or arena gigs in person. It’s a waste, especially when actual, passionate fans miss out on a primo experience.
The top 40, as always, has a lot to answer for here also. When you charge the ridiculous rates that popular modern acts do, it drives the whole market price up. Nosebleed seats at certain acts, who will not be named here because they get far too much attention already, are going for as much as $7000. A price higher than some meet and greet packages, with legendary acts with actual talent. Metallica and The Rolling Stones don’t charge that much, so where do Ticketmaster and the latest flavour of the month, totally unskilled contemporary acts get off doing it?
For those prices, I could fly return to another country, see Ramms+ein, stay at a nice hotel and have fun money left over. Call me old and out of touch, sure. At least I’m not numb and dumb enough to pay four figures for a soon-to-be nobody, who likely can’t even sing or rhyme at a level beyond your average open mic night at a local bar?
I will be as blunt as I can on this. If you pay over $300 for a ticket to some mumble ‘rap’ or whiny, anti-intellectual pop, you are a flat out idiot who deserves to get scammed. It’s not because of what you like, but what you think it’s worth. You’re just ruining the pricing scale for the rest of us. Your ‘artists’ will be irrelevant in less than a decade, but most will just take the money and run anyhow. It’s onviously not like they’re in it for the art right?
I was very fortunate to have grown up and knocked off most of my live event bucket list already, with most of what’s left being smaller acts, who use independent ticketing companies. I feel horrible for younger folks who will miss out on a lot of what I had, and for older ones who either don’t have or don’t understand phones, and just want to see a good show – almost all the older acts touring use Ticketmaster. Despite being broke for much of my mid 20’s and most of my 30’s, I rarely missed out on a show. Now people making twice as much as I did at their age are priced out of some of life’s essential experiences, because mainstream corporate dipshits have once again poisoned the well.
The resale market is fine if you need to get rid of a ticket for the price you paid for it. The second you try to profit off it, you are scum, and I wish you nothing but the worst. Ticket scalpers, digital or otherwise, deserve to be frauded and robbed. In a lot of countries, you would be, or better yet prosecuted like the petty criminals you are.
The kind of inflation we complain about for items like gas and food has been going on in the live event market for at least a decade here, and governments (both provincial and federal) need to grow a spine, and do more about it. The measures employed by trash companies like Ticketmaster and Stubhub would be illegal in almost any other industry, so why aren’t things more regulated?