Sunday, February 15, 2009

“A Slow Day in the Music World” Presents….What a Show is Worth: An Exercise in Redunkulousness

I was rudely reminded of Ticketmaster's insidious takeover of the music industry early this morning when I got online to buy a ticket to see Delta Spirit at the Double Door. A ticket that advertised for an affordable eight dollars, amounted to $17 after that “convenience” and “processing” fee. Yes folks, the fees themselves cost more than the ticket.

If we are placing a dollar amount to imply a product’s worth, then are we saying that Ticketmaster handling our transaction is worth MORE than the show? I wonder how Delta Spirit would feel about that. Ticketmaster was also recently exposed jacking up ticket prices for a Springsteen show that was sold under one of their underlings, TicketNow. Why do we have to use a third party to purchase tickets? How about some good ol’ fashioned bartering? I give you a fish, you play me a song. And I’ll buy a beer to make it worthwhile for the house.

I assume in order for this to be a financially viable arrangement, the Double Door must be receiving some sort of kickback by handing over all ticket sales to Ticketmaster. I e-mailed the folks at the Double Door to see what their decisions were behind using Ticketmaster. It has been over 48 hours and I haven’t heard anything. Nothing like the old pass-by. (It was more an exercise in shaking my fist in indignation than really expecting I would get a response.) So to Ticketmaster and our friends at the Double Door: How about some transparency? I never thought I would long for those days where I lined up for hours outside in the cold waiting for the box office to open. (Nor can I believe I did that for Bush, Goo Goo Dolls and No Doubt).

Ticketmaster and the Double Door are the only ones I see who benefit from all the fees. That is, unless the artists get a cut of the fees, but somehow I doubt that is the case. So we're left with two organizations that get more money, an artist that is largely unaffected, and a reluctant concert-goer. Starting fifty online purchases ago, I swore each time it would be the last time that I buy anything via Ticketmaster. I still firmly believe that I will never buy a ticket from them but I keep on doing it. Anyway, the truth is that it would be hard to do anyway given Ticketmaster’s ever-widening sphere of influence, especially now that they have merged with Live Nation. They now oversee all ticket sales from here to Timbuktu and in no short time I’m sure they will be charging ‘convenience’ fees to use the bathrooms at your local high school musical.

I could not justify this purchase. I’m sure Ticketmaster felt really, really bad about it since it made absolutely no impact in their books. If Delta Spirit grows in popularity such that they need huge venues with ticket vendors in Times Square, then sure, add on the fees. For now, using a behemoth ticketing company for small time bands simply doesn’t seem right. If Ticketmaster aids in sales and helps Delta Spirit grow in popularity, we may have an honest debate. But for a night that is billed as “A Double Door Budget Buster Show,” does it really make sense to make the online price twice the face value? Gimme a break.

--Audrey Wen


Alex said...

It's like death and taxes, which is why I stopped caring about TM awhile ago. It's never going away so why waste the energy.

I always liked how Schubas handles tickets. And isn't Metro no longer dealing with TM?

Audrey said...

Schuba's handles tickets by not having any. I love Schuba's but it kills me that ticket stub collection contains not a single show from Schuba's. Don't recall how Metro does it. Beware, Ticketweb is owned and operated by TM. Empty Bottle uses them, but at least they don't have the fees that strip me of my lunch money. TM's fees never fails to get an expletive from me everytime I buy a ticket.

Jim P. said...

While that Delta spirit example is particularly egregious, I've stopped letting this bother me long ago. When I see tickets to a show are $20, my mind immediately thinks $30. I obviously like it when TM is not involved, but they're sort of a necessary evil at this point. I mean, even Pearl Jam kind of gave up the fight, right? PJ gets tons of respect for trying (unlike the Boss, who should grow some stones and try to go TM-less).

Alex said...

I agree with Jim. I rarely think about it anymore on account of this being the case since I can remember.

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