Comedian Louis C.K. is taking an unconventional approach to selling tickets for his upcoming stand-up tour by cutting out Ticketmaster and selling tickets directly to fans through his own website with the assistance of online ticketing company Etix, leading to a very low inventory on the secondary market.
Fans will be able to purchase a ticket for $45 including tax and will not be forced to pay any additional fees. Tickets for the 25-city North American tour will be available only at louisck.net. In hopes of deterring scalping, tickets that are purchased and sold for above the original price will be cancelled and money will be refunded.
In a statement on louisck.net, C.K. told fans, “This year, I’m trying something new, building on the fun, success and fan-benefit of selling my content online…I’ve cut the ticket charges way down and absorbed them into the ticket price,” said C.K.
Apparently fans were happy about this, because according to The Associated Press, the tour sold 100,000 tickets and earned $4.5 million in ticket sales just 45 hours after going on sale. The tour kicks off October 3 at Severance Hall in Cleveland, OH and ends February 1, 2013 at the John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
C.K. told fans in a statement on his website that his goal has always been to make his shows affordable, but high ticket prices and markups by resellers has worked against that. He claims that some ticket services charge more than 40 percent over the original ticket price; however, when he decided to lower ticket prices to save fans money the move had the opposite effect, because more scalpers in turn purchased the tickets.
According to Will Flaherty, director of communications for SeatGeek, within the first four days of the tour’s announcement, SeatGeek recorded only 667 tickets for sale across the 60 secondary market sites that they track, inclusive of all 56 tour dates — across 10 shows in New York City, there were only 40 tickets available on the secondary market.
Flaherty further explained that many of the major secondary market sites have allowed for the resale of C.K. tickets, despite the rule against it, or they have removed all of his events entirely from their systems — StubHub waited three days before allowing the resale of tickets for the tour while TicketsNow has removed all of the comedian’s listings from their site.
C.K. said on his website that booking venues without the use of a major ticketing service has been “a real challenge” since most venues have an affiliation deal with ticketing services like Ticketmaster, which was purchased by LiveNation in 2010. The tour will make a weeklong stop October 22-28 at NYC’s New York City Center. On November 8 C.K. will make an appearance in Hartford, CT at the Bushnell Center for the Arts. The tour will also visit Boston’s Symphony Hall from January 3-5.
The Emmy Award and Grammy Award winning comedian, whose popular FX show Louie is now in its third season, is no stranger to unconventional sales practices. Last year, C.K. sold $5 downloads of his comedy special “Live at the Beacon” via his website — the sales earned more than $1 million in just under two weeks.
Fellow comics like Aziz Ansari have adopted similar tactics. Parks and Recreation star Ansari revealed in March that he would sell his special “Aziz Ansari: Dangerously Delicious” as a digital download for $5. The effort to bypass the middleman has long been a practice of entertainers. In 1995 after a battle with Ticketmaster, rock group Pearl jam announced that they would bypass the ticketing giant and instead use a telephone system to sell tickets, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Comparable artists like Ansari generally have around 200 to 300 tickets available on the secondary market per show. “This data in aggregate leads me to the broad conclusion that the measures employed by Louis C.K. are working to minimize secondary market activity around his shows,” Flaherty told TicketNews in a recent email.
C.K. recently won four awards at the 2012 Comedy Awards including one for Comedy Special of the Year and Stand-Up Tour for “Live at the Beacon.” He also earned a 2012 Grammy for Best Comedy Album.