Rolling Stone recently reported that Adele was tryingto limit ticket scalpingto her shows, her manager stating that they did“everything within our power to get as many tickets as possible in the hands of the fans.”It would be nice to believe that the world is so pure and true that an artist will fork over everything and leave millions on the table, just so the regular fans of the world could have the experience to see their favorite artists in concert at affordable prices. Unfortunately for those fans, with most artists, including Adele, having tickets both available and affordable it is not the reality.
The statement by Adele’s manager is a little disingenuous, since the goal of all performers, as well as ticket sellers and resellers, is to get tickets into the hands of fans. What sense would it make for a ticket broker to buy a ticket and not resell it to a fan? At the end of the day, all of the tickets sold will end up in fans hands.
So what we think Adele’s management was trying to say was that they were trying to get tickets to fans at an affordable price. But would that sentiment be true? The facts seem to contradict that declaration.
Fact 1 – Adele partnered with the biggest ticket reseller in the world, Ticketmaster, to manage the ticketing for her U.S. concert tour. Ticketmaster promptly packaged most of the prime tickets into VIP packages, where $39 to $100 tickets magically became $250 to $750 tickets.
Fact 2 – Artists and venues routinely hold back the best tickets in the house for their special friends, guests and others, sometimes between 30-50 percent. Billboard reported that less than300,000 (40%) of the 750,000Adele tickets are available to “tens of millions” of regular fans. Pre-sales, VIP, and various ticket holds for a wide range of constituents left millions out in the cold. Many ticket industry observers have demanded that the venues and artist provide information as to how many tickets are really available to the general public. Adele, like all the others, has not provided that information.
Fact 3 – Adele and her management knew from the start that the demand for her shows would cause them to sell out quickly. Yet, to counter this lack of supply, they could have added shows for those adoring fans who were not able to get tickets. They did not. Adele’s management dictated the strategy for how many shows and when tickets would become available.
Rolling Stone further states that artists like Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC and Tom Petty, who they refer to as “fan-friendly” artists, are leaders in the anti-scalping movement. Yet, again the facts seem to get in the way of this narrative. These artists have become very skilled at scalping their own tickets. Petty once famouslycancelled hundreds of issued ticketsthat popped up on secondary ticket sites, only later to sanction the resale of his tickets through the website Fanfire.com. Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau,admitted to the double dealing by artistsin an interview with Rolling Stone in 2014, stating “The negative connotation that used to surround reselling tickets has essentially disappeared. A large part of the public has accepted this.”
Even sporting teams have admitted that selling to ticket brokers, who oftentimes sell tickets at less than face value as they get closer to game time, are“hurting their brand”by cheapening the tickets for fans.
But why the deception? Why is Rolling Stone and others shifting the blame for sold out venues and high ticket prices to ticket brokers? The answers are relatively simple. First, why perform 80 shows when you can make almost the same money for only performing in 40? By reducing the number/supply of shows, you raise the demand/ticket prices for those shows. But you also know that your fans will not be happy, so you find a patsy, ticket brokers, to shift the blame upon. Like lawyers, nobody likes ticket brokers, until you need one.
Second, it is all about public relations. Most in the industry, including Rolling Stone, know the truth about the hold backs and performers essentially scalping their own tickets. But if they were to report these facts, that Adele and other performers routinely scalp tens, if not hundreds of thousands of their own tickets, then Adele likely would not become available for interviews. What would the Rolling Stones and thePollstarsof the world be without artist interviews? Who would buy advertising in those publications?
Adele is not the solution to ticket scalping and high ticket prices, she is the problem. By trying to manipulate the market and teaming with the biggest reseller in the world, her tickets were doomed to be out of bounds for regular fans. By not adding shows to the tour, and hiding the fact that less than 50 percent of the tour’s tickets were available for purchase by the general public, she left millions of frustrated fans outside of the arena.
All the brokers in the world have supported legislation to have venues disclose the amount of tickets made available to the public, including recently failed efforts inNew JerseyandConnecticut, which were vehemently fought by concert promoters and venues, who continue to profit by obscuring the amount of tickets actually available to the public. It is about time that the attorney generals begin to investigate these anti-consumer practices, as well as the state legislatures step up to the plate and pass legislation to protect fans.
Darnell Goldson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 860-993-3906