Hip-hop star Drake may have ruffled the feathers of some Canadian ticket brokers over the weekend following the unexpected release of about 100 VIP tickets for his recent Toronto show.
The tickets were sold on Live Nation’s Ticketmaster.com Web site for $300 at the end of last week, only a couple of days before the July 31 show. The tickets included a commemorative laminate and VIP access to the Molson Amphitheatre, including a pre-show party.
Tickets sold out for the show in June, partly because Drake is Canadian and was performing close to home in what he called the OVO Festival. But brokers said for tickets to suddenly turn up — and VIP seats at that — seems a bit suspect, especially when similar seats were selling for about $200 on the secondary ticket market.
“It seems unrealistic that this many tickets would all of a sudden become available,” Arham Shakoor, president of Toronto-based MrTicketKing, told TicketNews. “It’s funny because Live Nation is actually entering the secondary market now without claiming it, yet we get the bad reputation.”
Those $300/$200 seats carried a face value of about $94 each.
The issue comes down to where did the tickets come from and when. Live Nation executive Jacob Smid told the Toronto Star newspaper that tickets were some that the artist returned from his allotment for friends and family, and some that were reclaimed once the staging, lighting and sound logistics were finally ironed out.
“Some tickets were returned to us that the artist wasn’t using, and we were able to decide which seats were available production-wise. We always wanted to do a VIP thing, as well, and we just figured that out in the last week,” Smid said.
In addition, it seems like Live Nation also wanted to take advantage of the brisk business Drake tickets were doing on the secondary market prior to the show.
“We always encourage people to check the day of the show,” Smid told the Star. “Katy Perry sold out two shows, but because of production we were able to open up seats and we only made them available at the box office, so they wouldn’t go into the secondary market.”
Shakoor, as well as another anonymous broker, believes that Live Nation held back tickets, saw that sales were brisk on the secondary market and then released some in order to capitalize on the buzz. Since those same seats carried a face value three-times less, Live Nation could have released the seats at the same price. Shakoor estimates that his company made in excess of $17,000 in sales of Drake tickets over the last five to six days before the show.
Smid denied to the Star that Live Nation tried to pull a fast one. “I know people think sometimes we’re up to sketchy things, but I can assure you, this is just the nature of the beast as far as OVO goes and we [wanted] to have as many fans in the venue as possible.”