Jam Band Fights The Ticketmaster Man By Scalping Its Own Tickets

You’re not the only one who’s sick and tired of all the fees levied on event tickets sold through Ticketmaster. Members of jam band String Cheese Incident are so fed up with fans having to shell out extra cash, that they’re taking a stand by buying up bunches of tickets and reselling those to concertgoers, sans fees. So sort of a reverse scalp, maybe?

The New York Times reports on String Cheese Incident’s (heretofore known as SCI) ambitious plan to express discontent with the system, which ultimately results in a loss of money for the band.

One Friday afternoon recently, about 50 fans and friends of the band String Cheese Incident took $20,000 in cash to the Greek Theater in Los Angeles to take a small stand against the system – in this case, Ticketmaster.

With money advanced by the band, each person had enough to buy eight tickets at $49.95 apiece for the group’s show in July. Once all tickets were in hand, almost 400 of them, they were carried back to String Cheese headquarters in Colorado and put on sale again through the group’s Web site – for $49.95.

MIke Luba, a band manager, explained, “We’re scalping our own tickets at no service charge. It’s ridiculous.”

The band has a solid following, and wants to be able to offer tickets to its entire summer tour without service fees charged by Ticketmaster and other vendors. They’re willing to eat the cost this summer in order to show their fans how much they appreciate them, said one member.

This battle against Ticketmaster isn’t coming out of the blue — SCI has handled as much as half of its own ticket sales to many of its shows. It sued Ticketmaster in 2003, accusing the company of abusing its market power by denying the group more than the 8 percent of tickets it customarily makes available to acts.

That case was settled, and allowed the band to handle tickets for five years, an agreement which ended in 2009.

“I would argue that on some level they are our tickets,” Luba said. “If people in a free market find that Ticketmaster’s service is easier and more effective, by all means go for it. But we have found a group of people who are used to buying tickets directly from the band’s Web site.”

Ticketmaster didn’t comment, citing a confidentiality agreement with the band. One that Luba noted as well after a few interviews.

In other recent SCI/ticket news, scalpers used an Americans with Disabilities Act loophoole to snatch up all the wheelchair-accessible seats, resulting in some fans with actual disabilities not being able to buy tickets to an SCI show at Red Rocks in Colorado.

A Band Battles Ticketmaster on Sales Fees [Associated Press]

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  1. JennQPublic says:

    But paying that extra $12 is so darned convenient!

  2. deathbecomesme says:

    Good for them! Hopefully more bands will start to take notice and follow their lead. I love me some RHCP but couldnt stand to pay double the ticket price to see them in San Antonio this year

  3. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Oh I fully expect Ticketmaster to try and sue them. They’re just that facepalmingly oblivious.

  4. longfeltwant says:

    Why is it so hard to sell tickets to shows? All other things are easy to sell online, what is it about show tickets which prevents venues from having their own little online stores?

    • Anathema777 says:

      It might be a matter of having the resources to maintain the store and handle system load during high-demand events. Ticketmaster has crashed in the past under the weight of in-demand events, even with all of their servers and maintenance teams. Private venues might be worried about similar issues — and I imagine that the costs to implement a system that could handle high loads could be quite expensive.

      • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

        But there are companies who partner with web hosting services who ONLY exist to handle temporary spikes in bandwidth and storage needs (I think that’s what Akamai was originally for.) I know that the venue then needs to give a large (and varying) amount of revenue to the performers, and Ticketmaster probably handles that, but that’s basic accounting work.

        There’s a burrito shop near my house that has four employees. I can order online from them because they use a third-party web ordering application. I feel like 20,000 seat venues could begin to take this on themselves, if they really wanted to.

    • NightSteel says:

      Because as a venue, operating your own ticket sales, including website maintenance and so forth, is expensive. Farming it all out to TM is cheap and easy; since TM charges such ridiculous fees, the venue can get a larger cut of the ticket price. And TM markets aggressively to venues, because when TM has a geographical monopoly in an area, it becomes impossible to avoid their fees.

      • coffee100 says:

        > Because as a venue, operating your own ticket sales, including website maintenance and so forth, is expensive.

        Selling your own tickets is expensive.

        Folks, if you want a free clue as to why America is so fucked up, behold.

    • sigh says:

      Ticketmaster makes a lot of venues sign exclusivity agreements with them, so they can’t use other services to sell tickets. It’s a monopoly.

  5. That guy. says:

    Take a stand against Ticketmaster’s fees by paying Ticketmaster the fees!

    Wait, what?

    Why would Ticketmaster care that the band did this, or get them to address their policies?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      They bought the tickets directly from the venue, thereby circumventing the Ticketmaster online fee process.

      • That guy. says:

        Ah, I guess I’m unclear on how this Ticketmaster stuff works vs box office. So there is an unlimited number of tickets that can be bought at the box office, without Ticketmaster fees?

        I thought the band bought up the tickets, paying the Ticketmaster fees, then resold them minus the fees (thus paying them themselves).

  6. cspschofield says:

    Somebody explain to me again the difference between Ticketmaster and a criminal cartel?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      One has John Gotti, the other does not.

      You’ll be surprised when you find out which one has him!!

    • Blueskylaw says:

      The difference between Ticketmaster and a criminal cartel (hereafter refered to as a “CC”) is…,
      well the points are… umm, well, you know i’m sure there are differences but let’s not muddle the subject of how my re-election will be a benefit to my constituency.

    • longfeltwant says:

      One is committing crimes, the other is following the law.

      The law is the problem. We should make illegal what the law-abiding one is doing.

  7. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Hopefully more artists will start doing this to cut out the greedy middlemen. I could see bands forming a co-op to buy/rent locations on their own and then selling their tickets from their own website, sans bullshit fees.

  8. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    I’m torn. On the one hand, I hate Ticketmaster, but on the other, fuck jam bands.

  9. TuxMan says:

    How about no advanced tickets? Pay at the door? Doors open at 6pm and show starts when it’s 90% full. No rush, take your time finding your seat, we won’t start until every one is here!

    • Shadowfire says:

      Sounds terrible for anyone who would have to travel to the concert. “You drove two hours, I know, but we’re sold out.” No thanks.

      • That guy. says:

        Or, “You drove two hours, but we only sold 70% of our tickets by two hours after the scheduled start time…so just hang out awhile till we sell another 20%”

        • pythonspam says:

          If at the point of the scheduled start time, less than 90% of the tickets have been sold, start lowering the prices. You can also use that “sell-out time” to determine if additional shows should be added for subsequent days or if there is demand.

          Bands want people to come to shows and hear the music. If demand is high enough, they can raise their prices accordingly, but this ticketmaster nonsense doesn’t help the band, the attendee, or the venue.

          I am not going to stop going to events, I just have to plan around going to the box office and getting tickets there.

          There is no such thing as first-come, first-serve when the system (ticketmaster) can be gamed and events sell out immediately right before “resellers” start reselling at ridiculous prices on partner sites.

  10. Power Imbalance says:

    ‘but EA is worse than Ticketmaster… :/

  11. Mr_D says:

    Ok, once the convenience fee is taken care of, maybe we can do something about the exorbitant ticket prices?

  12. gttim says:

    I believe they bought the tickets at the box office, avoiding the ticketmaster fees, paying a $3 fee at the Greek Theater instead of ticketmaster fees, and then resold over their website. Fans who could not get to the box office could still buy over the web, avoiding the ticketmaster fees. Nice of them!

  13. SaltWater says:

    Me, I don’t much care for jam bands but I do really like peanut butter bands.

  14. TBGBoodler says:

    I don’t know… $49.95 a ticket sounds like a bad enough deal in itself.

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      You could always just stay home and put a song on repeat to replicate the experience for a lot less.

  15. AldisCabango says:

    With RockBand I can make my own jamband at home

  16. Mclick says:

    I think ticket master buys their own tickets during major events and then scalps them off on classified sites at increased rates. Ticket master is BS.

    • vliam says:

      Yep. It’s called TicketsNow. The FTC busted them for skimming Springsteen tickets that were never publicly offered for “resale”.

  17. dwtomek says:

    Is it just me that finds it insane that a band had to sue ticketmaster in order to sell their own tickets? What kind of crazy world is this? Does Ticketmaster preemptively own the rights to all live music acts? Seriosly…WTF Ticketmaster.

  18. shufflemoomin says:

    Why not find venues that don’t have a deal with Ticketmaster and sell your own tickets directly? I’m obviously missing something here. You don’t HAVE to dance with the devil to put on concerts.