Thursday, January 03, 2013

bottle full of dirt

Let’s talk politics, but use the world of concert tickets as the narrative.

Back in 1994 when DoJ was investigating Ticketmaster for a variety of bullshit, Pearl Jam entered the fray (willingly) as they fought the company on another front: service charges. (Their issue was that tickets were to be sold at $20, but Ticketmaster was adding a hidden service fee and basically selling them for $25, and not revealing the fees to buyers.) For those around at the time, let’s put on our thinking caps and remember the amount of grief the band received for pushing back against the machine (I was not one of them, nor was I much of a PJ fan at the time). For lots of people the idea that Pearl Jam, then the biggest band in the world, was fighting for anything financial was generally frowned upon. Aside from service fees, Pearl Jam attempted to sue Ticketmaster for monopolistic practices because of their exclusive, long-term contracts with most major American venues – if you were going to play in arena X then you had to use Ticketmaster as the vendor. The band tried to tour venues not controlled by Ticketmaster, but failed to gain traction and cancelled the tour. Those that laughed at Pearl Jam back then, most because they didn’t understand the completely egregious crap that Ticketmaster was pulling, didn’t really care, “Look at those crazy fucks [grungy band] trying to make more money,” and “I can’t believe they have the audacity…” You know why you didn’t care back then? Because it didn’t have any effect on you all.
Fast forward nearly 20 years, and now you’re trying to buy your tickets for the Lumineers tour, and guess what? You can’t get a ticket at face value to save your live because the Ticketmaster beast is punching you repeatedly in the head, taking your lunch money, and telling the other kids that you’re just a big baby. What do we have now? A company that charges $8-$12 in services fees (usually close to a third of the cost) just so you can print your ticket at home. A company that sells tickets directly to the secondhand market – controlled by them – to maximize profits simply because they can: who could stop them? And, they still have exclusive contracts with most of the quality venues. Oftentimes, events that are ongoing seem like they have zero effect on your live. Sure, concert tickets seem like small potatoes, but it wasn’t like we didn’t see something in Ticketmaster all those years ago. It’s okay, laugh off the small stuff. Don’t worry, it will never come back around and cause you even the slightest ill will…

PS. I managed to get one Lumineers ticket.

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