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]