Born To Scalp (Springsteen Tickets)

This morning on my drive in to work, I had the “pleasure” of listening to a bunch of upper middle class white folks (please excuse me for stereotyping the listeners of this radio station, I could certainly be way off base) whining to Tommy Griffiths on BIG 100.3 about how they couldn’t get tickets to the upcoming Bruce Springsteen concert at the Verizon Center on Sunday, April 1, 2012.  And they weren’t just complaining on the radio:

Tickets for the April 1 show went on sale Saturday at 10 a.m., but tickets seemed to sell out in just minutes.

Many fans took to Twitter to complain, but a Ticketmaster spokeswoman says that there were no problems with the site this morning, and tickets sold out fast because of the high demand.

“That’s just sadly what happens,” says Ticketmaster spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson. “There’s a lot of demand and little supply.”

Fans reported problems Friday when tickets went on sale for venues in New York and New Jersey.

Peterson told the Wall Street Journal that they believe their website was overwhelmed was likely caused by scalpers.

It’s not clear yet if there was a similar issue for the Verizon Center show.

Sadly, as is usually the case when someone doesn’t get their way in our society, two words are being thrown around quite a bit:  “fair” (or its first cousin “unfair”) and “legislation”.  As far as fairness is concerned, what, exactly, is a “fair” price for a ticket to a concert?  Apparently it’s whatever Mr. Springsteen’s fans are willing to pay.  And until his fans unite with one voice and decide to just say “no” to scalpers, no amount of legislation will be able to subvert the fact that the price for which he sells his tickets is significantly below that at which the limited supply would balance the overwhelming demand.  It is a simple fact of economics.

The only way to truly make it fair would be to have a Springsteen lottery.  Everyone could buy as many tickets as they wanted, for the exact same price, perhaps as low as a dollar each, with the knowledge that there would only be as many random winners as there were seats available.  Winning ticket holders would be announced as close to the show date as possible.  Would there still be scalping?  Absolutely.  But it would be randomized rather than centralized.

Two more quick points.  First, as of today, two days after the tickets went on sale, there are over 1000 tickets available on StubHub.  Second, and perhaps most importantly, I have not heard a single person complain that they went to a Ticketmaster Retail Outlet, like the one at the Verizon Center (which opens at 10 am on Saturdays), and were unable to get tickets.  Sometimes it pays to get up from behind the computer and go experience the real world.

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