Interesting interview with a scalper

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Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby vargaso » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:20 pm

http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry ... 1352.story

Not a whole lot of shocking info, just that scalping is widespread and the use of bots is extensive. Also a bit in there about paperless ticketing. The guy says it cuts down on scalping a little bit, but if the money is there, a scalper will gladly show up at the show to pick up the tickets and hand them to his customers.

It slows people down, definitely. But because these tickets are so valuable, a [broker] will say to his wife, "Let's go up to Jersey for Springsteen. I've got these idiot customers that paid $1,200 apiece. We'll walk in with them, then we'll leave. I'll take you to dinner." It's more trouble, it's more money, but to a certain extent it can't be stopped.


Of course, for BM, the location is extreme so they'd be less willing to do that, most likely.
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby trilobyte » Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:20 pm

Interesting article/interview. It is a massive problem that has really twisted the ticketed event industry. As a concertgoer with 300+ shows under my belt, my experience has been that the problem has really gotten out of hand (as the scalper says). Unfortunately, the Ticketbastards and LN's of the world have little interest in doing anything about it, because their primary concern is to sell as many tickets as they can, as quickly as they can (yet despite that, they still struggle under heavy server load during hot-ticket on sale dates). To me, once a regular event has shown the capacity to sell out, it's effectively become poisoned - you can't do a first-come first-serve sale without scalpers (both pros and amateurs) grabbing the lion's share of the supply. Coachella, Madonna, and a multitude of other events are all clear examples. Coachella had something of a registration system, but it was a relatively poor design (once you created the account during the registration window, it was first come first serve… scalpers just registered a lot of accounts and then let their bots loose when tix went on sale).

People may not be happy with the ticket situation, but it's far better than would have been the case had things been done the old way (save of course for increasing server capacity). The way it was structured effectively prevented infiltration from bots, and allowed Burning Man and the ticketing vendor a week to scrub the list to remove scalpers and scammers. Had that not been done, a third fewer burners would have tickets in hand, and tickets for sale online numbering in the thousands. I've been doing weekly measurements of eBay, Stubhub, and one scalper site to track what's happening with Burning Man, Coachella (160K total tix), and the bay area Madonna shows (2 gigs in October, with around 38K total tickets). Where Burning Man has been between 116-175 tickets available (159 this week), Coachella's been at 2606-2928 (2928 this week), and Madonna's shows went from 1305 tickets within the hour of the event going on sale to a current high of 2934 tickets.

Sure, it's conceivable that a scalper who signed up in their own name could get into STEP and get tickets, but in order to do something about that they would need to fly into Reno (unless they're local) and drive their asses out to Gerlach, and then get through the gate line. My guess is they'd need to do it early in the week, too (when lines are at their longest, and long waits are not uncommon). Everything's close on the east coast, 'going to Jersey for Springsteen' is about as easy for most New Yorkers/Long Islanders as going to San Jose for someone in San Francisco (or vice versa). The west is spread further out, and hopefully like you say the remote location and extreme conditions keep that to a minimum.
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby alt12 » Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:36 pm

vargaso wrote:http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/touring/confessions-of-a-ticket-scalper-billboard-1006351352.story

Not a whole lot of shocking info, just that scalping is widespread and the use of bots is extensive. Also a bit in there about paperless ticketing. The guy says it cuts down on scalping a little bit, but if the money is there, a scalper will gladly show up at the show to pick up the tickets and hand them to his customers.

It slows people down, definitely. But because these tickets are so valuable, a [broker] will say to his wife, "Let's go up to Jersey for Springsteen. I've got these idiot customers that paid $1,200 apiece. We'll walk in with them, then we'll leave. I'll take you to dinner." It's more trouble, it's more money, but to a certain extent it can't be stopped.


Of course, for BM, the location is extreme so they'd be less willing to do that, most likely.


Well there was a very interesting article on the NY Times yesterday about the CEO of a scalping business in NY who was arrested for assault/threats, etc. over the weekend. In the article, they say that paperless ticketing has reduced scalping at Bruce Springstein and Miley Cyrus concerts by as much as 75%. They also talk about how every large scalping/ticket broker in the country is doing everything they can, including lobbying, lawsuits, etc. to prevent businesses like Ticketmaster from going to paperless tickets....

Here's the article. Kind of an interesting read: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/business/ticketnetwork-chiefs-arrest-clouds-industry.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=scalping&st=cse
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby Smenkare » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:40 pm

Thanks for sharing those articles. Got any more?
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby suicyco » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:41 am

Whatever happened to lining up at Tower Records, Music+, The May Co. or any of the other physical ticket sellers?

Do any such places still exist? The entire issue these days with these types of sales is the internet, not scarcity so much. Automated ticket sales leads to automated ticket buyers, which leads to a huge secondary market. There have always been scalpers, but back in the day they had to stand in line with the rest of us, or know someone at the ticket seller, etc.

What would happen if Burning Man simply selected a physical ticket seller in each metropolitan area to handle in person sales? Does such a network even exist anymore?

It worked in the old days, well except perhaps Woodstock :-) but still. Perhaps ditching the internet for such things can calm it down a bit. I dunno if thats even possible though. There are burners all over the world, so it would have to be something pretty wide spread. There are no record stores left, nowhere that I know of to buy tickets anymore.

A scalpers just gonna do what he's gonna do, IF he can do it. No stopping it in ANY situation. Unfortunately.
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby Stephendragonfly » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:13 am

People who actually line up for tickets these days, all too often find that the event is sold out before the second person in line has a chance to pay. Online scalpers buy out entire concerts using bots. It is suggested in the comments below that article that Ticketmaster is in cahoots with some of the reticketing sites, actually setting aside some of the best tickets for resale from those sites. Might explain how all of the best seats for Madonna are up for a grand a pop on Stubhub five minutes after the concert goes on sale. This also may help to explain the lack of scalped BM tickets on Stubhub. It is entirely possible that InTickets, for all their faults, is a way better alternative than any of the big outlets> if it is true that the Ticketmasters are colluding with reticketing sites to immorally gain maximum market share (that's economese for scalping).
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby suicyco » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:44 am

Ya, that is because you can still buy tickets online. If you couldn't buy them online at all, wouldn't that help the deep pocket automated buyer? (EDIT: err, I mean NOT help :-)

I know that even in-person-only sales can be compromised, I bought tickets to a KISS concert once that only allowed in person sales (no internet at the time) and the friggin thing sold out after like 20 people in line bought tickets. (Ticketmaster, which was obviously compromised.)

However, if the organizers could somehow contract with small local places in each large metropolitan area in the US, and perhaps around the world, to sell tickets to actual people, wouldn't that help? We have such a solid lock on this mindset that the internet MUST be involved these days. Perhaps break that lock. Get people to go stand in line with other like minded folks, and make them show the effort. I dunno. The world as it is today, that WOULD exclude some people who live in some corner of the world where it wouldn't be easy to do. Anywho, just mulling over my past experience buying tickets. I've bought tickets from scalpers, to many many concerts/sporting events over the years. Heck I bought Lakers finals tickets for a crazy amount of money and was HAPPY to do it! I've even bought tickets below face value to some shows from desperate scalpers. I never had a problem with it. However, Burning Man isn't a concert. I would have a problem with buying from scalpers for BM, in my mind, its more like buying "tickets" to some sort of weirdo resort or travel destination (I know its not that, just coming up with examples.) Airlines and hotels don't deal with scalpers, resorts don't, etc. Somehow they handle that.

Just a couple cents from my mind.
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:15 am

I bought my ticket at the Berkeley Hat Company last year. There are no retail ticket outlets this year. I wonder what sort of ticket outlet they will have in ... say.. Prague. Or even Rochester, NY. I lied, actually. I work in the city and at the time my chair was too feeble to get from the fishbowl to Berkeley Hat Co. I gave a wad of cash to a friend and he was so kind as to do the actual purchasing. Yeah, that's another thing, the retail outlets were cash only. NOt that detail couldn't be changed, of course. But really, for international burners, who don't get their paper tickets until they hit will call, and people in small towns, retail outlets are unmanagable...
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby drutter » Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:11 pm

vargaso wrote:Also a bit in there about paperless ticketing. The guy says it cuts down on scalping a little bit, but if the money is there, a scalper will gladly show up at the show to pick up the tickets and hand them to his customers.

Paperless tickets that you can pick up and then sell to others? Just how paperless ARE these paperless tickets?!?
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby Psycho » Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:18 pm

Yeah, when you show an ID and get the ticket, that should also be the only PERSON that can enter the event with it... You can't just then turn and hand it to the person behind you with the arm full of cash...

That's how the airlines do it. The person's name is on the ticket, it must match their ID, and they are the ONLY person that can actually use the ticket. Unless the scalpers start venturing into the joyful lands of making counterfeit IDs, that's probably the only way to completely stop it...
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby vargaso » Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:23 pm

drutter wrote:
vargaso wrote:Also a bit in there about paperless ticketing. The guy says it cuts down on scalping a little bit, but if the money is there, a scalper will gladly show up at the show to pick up the tickets and hand them to his customers.

Paperless tickets that you can pick up and then sell to others? Just how paperless ARE these paperless tickets?!?


Meaning they don't print a ticket, merely give out a code, which the ticket buyer then usually prints out and brings to the show.
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby vargaso » Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:24 pm

Psycho wrote:Yeah, when you show an ID and get the ticket, that should also be the only PERSON that can enter the event with it... You can't just then turn and hand it to the person behind you with the arm full of cash...

That's how the airlines do it. The person's name is on the ticket, it must match their ID, and they are the ONLY person that can actually use the ticket. Unless the scalpers start venturing into the joyful lands of making counterfeit IDs, that's probably the only way to completely stop it...


Well sure, but that would mean deviating from how the BMORG is handling tickets at 5:20pm PST on March 7, 2012, AND WE MUST NOT DISCUSS IDEAS THAT DEVIATE FROM THAT.
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby bradtem » Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:54 pm

My investigations into this suggest the concert venues (and even the bands) want some scalping to go on -- there is even suggestion of collaboration.

It's the only explanation left for a very strange situation. If you have a concert with $100 tickets, but fans are willing to buy it out at $200, you would normally be crazy to sell for just $100 -- why leave half the money on the table? But (like BM in many ways) the bands at least don't want to make it so that their concerts are only for the wealthy. They don't want the image of elitist events for yuppies. At the same time they want it to be possible for the rich true fans to still get in without waiting in long lines or timing an online purchase to the second.

So some tickets sell to scalpers. Who then sell to the people with more money than time at a high price. The scalper provides the market that should exist, but the band and venue appear blameless that tickets are selling for so much.

The argument I have seen for collaboration is that the rational thing for a venue to do would be what is known as differential pricing. Sell different people the same item at different prices based on their willingness to pay. That's how you maximize revenue, and sometimes how you still let poorer folks in. Burning Man does differential pricing with tiers. A common way is to have prices go up as time goes along. Airlines have a hundred rules of differential pricing. Some sellers do it by profiling the buyer. It's also done by having classes of seats that really aren't that different but which cost a lot different, and the wealthy go for the best, even at 3x the price, especially when the cheap tickets have sold out.

So a clever way to do it -- I don't have confirmation -- would be to sell tickets to fans who are eager at a low price, and cut a deal with "scalpers" to give them a fragment of the tickets, declare the event sold out, and let them sell at market prices, paying a percentage (not a fixed price) back to the venue. As I say this would be clever, though I don't know if it would be legal. As long as nobody is lying it would probably be legal.

Obviously in many cases there is no cooperation. When we see scalpers making bots to suck up the tickets, for example. Scalpers getting in bed with venues would have lower risk but lower margins, and might prefer higher risk and higher margins. Or the venue just might just never want to play. Particularly with scalpers who create fake sell-outs with their artificial demand, and mete out the tickets slowly -- often leaving the best seats in the house empty in a sold-out event.

It would be nice if the world could come upon a system which allows markets to do their thing, delivers most of the value to the band/event, keeps tickets available for those who truly want them the most but doesn't generate an all-yuppie audience. It's a tall order.
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Re: Interesting interview with a scalper

Postby Canoe » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:10 am

Stephendragonfly wrote:...all of the best seats for Madonna are up for a grand a pop on Stubhub five minutes after the concert goes on sale. This also may help to explain the lack of scalped BM tickets on Stubhub...

Still waiting for BM seat assignment...
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