Face-melting concert photo


WGME Vol. 6: SeatGeek Forecasts Concert Ticket Prices

Who's Got My Extra

Welcome to Vol. 6 of “Who's Got My Extra?” — Jamtopia's series all about the business and pleasure of concert tickets.
See all posts | Buy concert tickets

I've had SeatGeek on my radar for a little while, but they just went live this week and you'll definitely want to take the site for a spin.

Similar to what FareCast does for airfare, SeatGeek provides price forecasts for concert tickets (and sports tickets) using a custom algorithm to crunch historical concert ticket transactions and “other factors” that influence tickets prices.

Screen grab of SeatGeek Concert Ticket Forecast

As you can see in the screengrab above, the site essentially tells you whether to buy now or wait til later using one of seven possible forecasts — sharp decrease, moderate decrease, steady prices, moderate increase, sharp increase, hump, and trough. For events with sufficient data, they even break down the forecast for cheap, medium, and expensive seats.

And the coup de grâce: you can sign up for an alert and they'll email you when it's the best time buy tickets, up to two days before the event. Nice.

We see this as a huge opportunity for a change-the-world type of business.
— Russ D'Souza, SeatGeek Co-Founder, via LA Times

I don't know if they're really gonna change the world, but they might just help you beat the brokers & behemoths and find yourself some cheap concert tickets.

Want more info? Visit SeatGeek.com, follow @SeatGeek, or read the SeatGeek blog.

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WGME Vol. 5: Neil Diamond = Mike Damone

Who's Got My Extra

Welcome to Vol. 5 of “Who's Got My Extra?” — Jamtopia's series all about the business and pleasure of concert tickets.
See all posts | Buy concert tickets

Yesterday Wall Street Journal reporter Ethan Smith blew the lid off one of the worst kept secrets in the music business — Concert Tickets Get Set Aside, Marked Up by Artists, Managers.

And best of all, he named names, so you know exactly which artists are gouging their fans with inflated prices for concert tickets.

Smith outs a wide range of artists and managers, from Neil Diamond and Celine Dion to Bon Jovi and Van Halen to Billy Joel and Elton John. Even no-longer-bald Britney Spears gets called out for a little scalping.

Virtually every major concert tour today involves some official tickets that are priced and sold as if they were offered for resale by fans or brokers, but that are set aside by the artists and promoters, according to a number of people involved in the sales.

Of course none of the acts the WSJ contacted got back to them… probably embarrassed that they're now in the same camp as Gene Simmons, in it for the money and not the music.

Hey, at least Gene's not trying to hide anything.

Update (March 16, 2009): Well it seems Michael Jackson may have a little Mike Damone in him too, at least according to the veiled accusation in this WSJ article.

Meanwhile, guy-who-gets-it Trent Reznor clued in his fans with incredible transparency on the NIN forum (see quote below) — picking up a story that, as Lefsetz noticed, didn't get much traction in the media beyond the original article.

The true market value of some tickets for some concerts is much higher than what the act wants to be perceived as charging. For example, there are some people who would be willing to pay $1,000 and up to be in the best seats for various shows, but MOST acts in the rock / pop world don’t want to come off as greedy pricks asking that much, even though the market says its value is that high.
Trent Reznor on the NIN forum

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WGME Vol. 4: Satan’s Box Office (Live Nation Ticketmaster)

Who's Got My Extra

Welcome to Vol. 4 of “Who's Got My Extra?” — Jamtopia's series all about the business and pleasure of concert tickets.
See all posts | Buy concert tickets

Editor's Note: I tried to cover the Live Nation and Ticketmaster merger as an update to my open letter to Nathan Hubbard about the Phish ticket debacle at Live Nation but the story has escalated to the point where it needed a full post. Also, huge props to Chris Walters at Consumerist for coining the phrase Satan's Box Office. Genius.

Late in the day on February 3rd, the Wall Street Journal reported that Live Nation and Ticketmaster are “close to a merger” — a deal that would centralize control of concert ticket sales, artist management and concert venues under a single corporate umbrella.

Per the article, the two-headed beast's prospective name is Live Nation Ticketmaster Live Nation Entertainment Inc. Too bad they didn't go with Masternation. It could've been the name and corporate manta all rolled in to one. Plus it would've made for some hilarious antitrust hearings.

Unfortunately, the name won't be Masternation, and if you're a concert ticket buyer there's really nothing funny about the prospective merger.

For starters, Live Nation had just barely rolled out Live Nation Ticketing, a long-awaited challenger to Ticketmaster's alleged but never proven monopoly over ticket sales. With this merger, it'll be back to business as usual, thwarting your chance of seeing sub 30% service fees any time soon.

The one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be Ticketmaster and Live Nation coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing.
Bruce Springsteen with Jan Landau and the entire Springsteen Tour Team

Then, you've got the fact that both companies seems to over-promise and under-deliver on customer experience, with a recent disaster from each making the fees feel all the more painful.

WGME Vol. 3: An Open Letter to Nathan Hubbard, Live Nation Ticketing CEO

Who's Got My Extra

Welcome to Vol. 3 of “Who's Got My Extra?” — Jamtopia's series all about the business and pleasure of concert tickets.
See all posts | Buy concert tickets

Dear Mr. Hubbard:

On January 30th, 2009, just as Phish tickets went on sale through Live Nation's spankin' new ticketing system, Pollstar posted a now sadly ironic interview entitled “That's the Ticket.”

The interview starts off on the topic of your infrastructure's readiness for prime time. Pollstar asked, “when can we expect to see its first big test?” You replied:

I don't know what you mean but I can tell you that we're fully under way… We’ve undergone the largest transition in the history of the industry and so far we’re very pleased with how it’s gone.
Nathan Hubbard, CEO Live Nation Ticketing

You may be fully underway, but I hope you're not still pleased with how it's gone. Your new ticketing system is definitely not ready for prime time.

Live Nation there was a problem.

Trying to buy Phish tickets from Live Nation the past two days was a labyrinth of temporary waiting rooms, KITT inspired loading bars, pathetic error messages (see below), repeated requests to sign in, apologies for the inconvenience, illegible CAPTCHAs (again, see below), and ominous timers that ticked away to zero sending once-loved tickets back to the orphanage you call general inventory.

And that's not to mention your 877 number, a robotic seductress forever promising that “fans come first” but literally and figuratively unable to comprehend the phrase “buy tickets.”

It was an epic fail.

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WGME Vol. 2: The Most Expensive Concert Tickets of 2008

Who's Got My Extra

Welcome to Vol. 2 of “Who's Got My Extra?” — Jamtopia's series all about the business and pleasure of concert tickets.
See all posts | Buy concert tickets

StubHub recently released their 2008 Concert Ticket Annual Report. It's an interesting look at concert ticket sales figures for 2008, though a bit skewed as it's based exclusively on StubHub data.

Here's the short version:

The average price of a concert ticket on StubHub in 2008 was $159, up $3 from 2007, with Madonna, The Eagles, and Billy Joel commanding the highest average ticket price.

My favorite part of the report is the upfront by Chuck La Vallee, Head of Music Business Development for StubHub. La Vallee echoes John Barlow a bit, noting that nothing can replace the experience of seeing live music.

Despite challenging economic times, StubHub buyers are willing to invest in the experience they get for the price of admission.

So just how much are people willing to pay for concert tickets? Glad you asked.

Here are the 10 acts with highest average concert tickets prices on StubHub for tours that sold over 10,000 total tickets in 2008:

Not suprisingly, most of the top 10 have been touring for over two decades, so they've got a multi-generational fanbase resulting in high demand and short supply for concert tickets.

And if you'll allow me to break out my crystal ball for a second, I've got a prediction for who will be at the top of the list next year. One word. Britney.

P.S. If you're still reading this, you might be interested in the 2007 StubHub Concert Ticket Annual Report and the 2006 StubHub Concert Ticket Annual Report.

WGME Vol. 1: Introduction to Concert Ticket Brokers

Who's Got My Extra

Welcome to “Who's Got My Extra?”

Jamtopia's new series all about concert tickets.

Over time, we'll be taking a detailed look at the business and pleasure of concert tickets, from practical advice like spotting a counterfeit ticket to more esoteric topics like concert ticket derivatives.

This post — Introduction to Concert Ticket Brokers — kicks things off with some foundational knowledge about concert ticket brokers.

If you're like me, you've probably noticed that it's getting harder and harder to buy concert tickets for your favorite events at face value. And yet somehow, concert ticket brokers have plenty of tickets.

Today we're going to take a closer look at this phenomenon and see why, beyond simple supply and demand, concert ticket brokers are the main reason it's so hard for you to buy cheap concert tickets.

Here's the short version:

Concert ticket brokers have teams of people and automated software buying tickets for them. You do not.

The morning of a concert ticket onsale date, tickets brokers deploy teams of buyers like a shotgun blast to Ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster outlets, and even the venue box office. You, on the other hand, are a metaphorical sniper rifle, a one man team with a single shot at scoring the elusive cheap concert tickets.

This sort of swarm buying is common practice, and for the most part these concert ticket brokers are playing by the rules. But not always.


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