It’s a sight no artist or promoter likes to see, but one that will probably become more and more common if so-called “slow ticketing” continues to be pushed onto the consumer. Nearly every date on the closing leg of Demi Lovato and DJ Khaled’s tour, which runs through the end of March, are (or were) available at steep discounts on coupon megasite Groupon.com, offering seats for as little as $25. This follows the duo’s dates being among several onetime “Verified Fan” gated presales making a “2-for-1” offer from Ticketmaster as Valentine’s Day approached.
The mechanism is fairly simple: take a tour, and ratchet up initial demand by creating a perceived scarcity (gotta get in on this verified presale – otherwise the bots’ll get ’em!). Get the regular media to regurgitate the bots and scalpers storyline as tickets go on sale. Push ticket prices as high as the market will potentially accommodate, and leave plenty of time before opening day to slash prices, offer bulk deals, or push them out the back door through another channel (like Groupon).
Fans that bought on day one at the perceived “face value” may not be happy to see those who waited walk through the same doors and sit next to them for a lot less, but c’est la vie.
In this instance, all but four of the final 19 shows on the Lovato/Khaled tour appear to have been posted at steep discounts for bargain hunters on Groupon. Nine still had inventory available as of Monday afternoon, beginning with Saturday’s show in Las Vegas ($35 if you’re looking). Wednesday’s show in San Jose and Friday’s show in Inglewood both had been posted with deals, but had sold through their allotment or been removed due to the proximity of the showtime.
As per usual, it bears mentioning that there’s nothing really wrong with throwing a discount out there to fill seats – if demand falls short of supply, it only makes sense. Where the issue gets messy is when the consumer is thrown in the middle – by hyping perceived demand to sell at premium prices, only to adjust downward as needed as zero hour approaches. Add to that the fact that so much is tied to the mythical “face value” assigned to a ticket, there are real-world issues at play for everyone in the space when you see things like this happen.
Ultimately, the only people hurt by this sort of practice are the biggest fans of a particular act – the ones who feverishly queue up on the day of sale to make sure they get their shot to see a favorite artist. They’re the ones stuck wondering why they paid the premium price tag while the casual take-it-or-leave-it fan got to scoop up bargain deals right before the show.