It’s not uncommon to hear tales of tickets going on sale for a popular artist, only to see them gone before almost anyone in the public has a shot at scoring some. What is rare, however, is to see it blamed on the promoter holding back tickets, rather than the usual “bot” or “scalper” straw-men targets. That’s the rare tale we’re seeing told related to a Hattiesburg performance by fan favorite Jimmy Buffet.
Tickets to see Buffett at the Saenger Theater in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on April 26 went on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. Within a two minute span, every ticket made available was already claimed – a record-setting sellout time for the venue. But it would appear that only a fraction of the 997 seat venue capacity was ever up for grabs in the first place.
Rick Taylor, Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, said that promoter Live Nation had set aside a “sizable block” of tickets before they went on sale, according to WMCActionNews5.com. He declined to say how many Live Nation held on to, or what percentage of the house was available for purchase during the public sale.
Promoter, venue and artist holdbacks are well known to be the culprit in a large number of events where fans complain after near-immediate sellouts, though promoters and venues merely shrug and claim it was ticket brokers or illegal bot activity which caused the public to miss out, only to see tickets available on resale markets at high markup right away. Former Live Nation Chairman Michael Cohl recently railed against this instant blame game, arguing that it was simple supply and demand at play. In this (and many other instances), that simple math is tilted even further against consumers when the supplier keeps sizable blocks of the supply.
Live Nation owns Ticketmaster, which in turn owns Ticketmaster Resale, where many tickets are sold at these marked-up prices. The relationship between these companies and whether or not things are being conducted above board has been probed, most recently related to a Rolling Stones concert in the UK. In that instance, paid ads for Ticketmaster’s resale platforms in England appeared higher in search results for users searching for tickets to the show. This is in spite of the fact that Ticketmaster and rival AXS both had allocations of face value tickets still available for the performance.
In this instance, Ticketmaster was not operating as the ticketing vendor for the performance. The Saenger uses Eventbrite for ticketing, and tickets are not currently available on Ticketmaster’s resale platform. But tickets for the show are available on other resale platforms, and the scarcity has made it a high ask – listings on Vivid Seats, for example, begin at $469 per ticket, which jump to a total of $1,039 for a pair once the over $50 per ticket service fees are applied.
The Saenger performance will be the first of back-to-back nights on for Buffett, who rescheduled a concert from this past weekend to April 27 in Charlotte due to poor weather.