It’s a familiar story to anyone following the ticket industry. Popular act books show. Fans get super excited to see that show. Tickets go on sale – and lots of fans don’t get tickets. Chorus of anger rises, with blame going towards the secondary market.
In this most recent example, we’re talking about Paul McCartney, whose September visit to the Carrier Dome at Syracuse saw all but the most expensive tickets snapped up in minutes at general sale. The complaints reached a volume sufficient enough to draw the attention of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office opened an investigation.
Upon investigation, it would appear that the real culprit isn’t ticket brokers, however. In a show where a minimal number of tickets ever made it to the regular sale, the scalping is being done by those who had access to one of the myriad of presales, event promotors, Carrier Dome administration, and people tied to McCartney’s camp, as all had a bite of the apple before the general sale, which saw almost anything reasonably priced disappear almost immediately.
In fact, there are still tickets available through the primary marketplace – only VIP access seats for several hundred or even thousands of dollars each, substantially higher than the secondary market is priced at this point.
Coverage of the rapid sellout in May referenced fans’ being upset about scalpers potential use of so-called “ticket bots” to circumvent limits on purchasing, but such software programs are illegal in New York, and Schneiderman’s office declined to comment on whether or not it had found any evidence of such programs being used in this instance when contacted by TicketNews late last week.
Likewise, Schneiderman’s office declined to comment on whether or not their investigation had led to any charges, or even if the investigation was still open. It also declined to comment on what number of tickets were available to the general public vs. holdbacks.
According to an April 27 story on Syracuse.com, Presale tickets were available to members of the McCartney Fan Club and American Express cardholders several days before regular sale. Additional presale tickets were allocated to Syracuse University and SUNY-ESF students, as well as Syracuse alumni, faculty, and premium donors. Access codes for the McCartney Fan Club and AMEX sales were published in that same Syracuse.com story.
Add to whatever was held back for those presales the number of tickets given to university officials, venue staff, promoters, or even McCartney himself, who is married to Nancy Shevell, VP of Administration for the New England Motor Freight trucking company, based in northern New Jersey.
Kevin Quinn, Syracuse’s Senior Vice President for Public Affairs, was quoted on Syracuse.com in May about presales and the resale marketplace being so active. “Anyone, not just resellers, can post their tickets for any price,” he said, also noting that the presales were a requirement of the promoter.
Quinn’s office did not return a phone call seeking comment on this story.
The maligned secondary market appears to be offering a far better deal at this point for fans still hoping to see the McCartney performance. On TicketClub.com, tickets for Paul McCartney’s Carrier Dome show are available for as low as $185, with hundreds of tickets selling for less than the VIP floor tickets on Ticketmaster.
“Things seem fishy when the state investigates complaints about high ticket prices from brokers when the market is selling tickets for hundreds less than the actual performer and venue,” says TicketClub spokesman Joe Simpkins.
The primary marketplace is actually overwhelmingly more expensive for Paul McCartney’s tour at this point. In an analysis of dates through the end of July for McCartney’s tour, only one show – July 26th in Chicago – has any offerings for less than the lowest price available on TicketClub. In most instances over the 10 shows between the start of July and a break that lasts throughout August before the tour resumes in September, tickets plus fees through Ticketmaster or their resale marketplace are substantially more expensive than those available through TicketClub, which does not charge fees for members.
What is clear here is that yes, individuals with early access to a hot ticket will often purchase for more than just their own personal enjoyment and try to reap the profits. But it isn’t just professional brokers taking advantage of the secondary market, it’s anyone with early access that can get their hands on a ticket and turn it into extra money by speculating.