Colorado jam band, String Cheese Incident aren’t exactly household names but their recent stand against Ticketmaster has people talking.
Back in March the band announced plans for a 2012 summer tour, and that fans could purchase tickets to their shows from their official website at face value without the added service charges. The band even went as far as to pay for the credit card processing fees themselves in an effort to maintain fan-friendly ticketing.
This “Service Fee-Free” ticketing was available for all but one location, the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Here each ticket was accompanied with an additional $12.90 charge through Ticketmaster. However, a promotion from the Greek Theatre provided String Cheese Incident with a loophole to include the July 13 show amongst the rest.
The venue promotion allowed fans to purchase tickets in person at the venue’s box office sans service charge. With the help of some loyal fans and volunteers the band seeked to buy back as many of their tickets possible with the intention of reselling them from their site. In a statement to Rolling Stone, band member Michael Kang explained the situation: “So we has some of our management there and we were able to get fans to show up and we handed them a bunch of cash and they all bought tickets.”
With $20,000 in hand the band’s supporters were able to secure nearly 400 tickets at face value, $49.95, according to The New York Times. Those tickets were then sent to the band’s headquarters in Colorado to be resold on the SCI website at face value with the only added charge being the unavoidable $12 shipping fee by United Parcel Service. Even with the additional charge for shipping the tickets are still cheaper than Ticketmaster.
Bassist, Keith Moseley told The New York Times “It costs us money to sell the tickets. But we are going to eat that cost this summer in order to make a better deal for our fans and let them know how much we appreciate them.”
Anh Pham, one of the fans who took part in the ticket purchasing told The New York Times “Ticketmaster has been around for so long, and they’ve made so much money from me and so many of us, that the opportunity to help out the String Cheese community was to me a fantastic idea.”
What String Cheese Incident sees as fan appreciation, Ticketmaster and others in the concert industry see as a blatant disregard of valid contracts which in turn deprives both theaters and promoters of their share of revenue which they rely on to cover booking costs.
This isn’t the first time Ticketmaster has been met with opposition from String Cheese Incident. In the summer of 2003, the band filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against the ticketing giant to secure a large amount of tickets directly to their fans. Ticketmaster filed a countersuit arguing that its contracts with theaters gave the company exclusive right to sell tickets. A settlement was reached giving String Cheese Incident control of their tickets for five years, expiring in 2009.
According to The New York Times, Ticketmaster declined to comment on the situation citing a confidentiality agreement with the band. However, information about the 2003 lawsuit has been made available in the book Ticket Masters by Dean Budnick and Josh Baron.