The Death of the Concert Ticket?
They already took away our vinyl records. Yes, they don’t sound as good as digital music but LPs had a warmth and charm you just don’t get from an MP3. Also, album covers were the perfect canvas for artwork. CD jewel cases are just too small and who even looks at the art associated with a MP3 download?
Now they want to take away our concert tickets. That’s right, paper tickets are in jeopardy of joining vinyl records in dust bin of popular music. Sure they’re only pieces of paper, but holding one in your hand is exciting. You get a rush of adrenaline when it’s ripped by the event staff (or scanned as the case is now). Best of all, you can keep the stub as proof that you were actually at the show.
Tickets aren’t just an advent of the 20th century. They date back to the time of the Romans. Only their tickets weren’t made out of paper they were made out of clay. It must have been difficult to put them in a wallet.
Regardless of what they’re made out of, concert tickets are worth something. Before the show, they’re worth whatever someone is willing to pay for them and after the show the stub can be a valuable collector’s item.
For example, in 2000 a fan paid $1,530 for a pair of Barbara Streisand tickets for a show of hers in Melbourne, Australia. Also on eBay, a fan purchased a ticket stub from a 1965 Beatles concert for $325.
A ticket stub selling for several hundreds of dollars doesn’t get the ire of music fans but concert tickets selling far above face value price sure does. In other words, fans don’t like it when tickets sell for exorbitant amounts especially when they don’t have tickets themselves.
The reason for high prices on the secondary ticket market is simple “supply and demand.” When a concert sells out and fans still want tickets prices goes up. Conversely, when a concert isn’t sold out, ticket prices on the secondary market plummet. They often sell for a fraction of their original face value price.
Contrary to what many think, ticket resellers often lose money on their inventory. For every One Direction ticket that sells for ten times the original amount there are several event tickets that are sold at a loss. Being a merchant on the secondary ticket market is risky business.
Since artists don’t want to appear greedy—meaning they don’t want their concert tickets selling for hundreds if not thousands of dollars—and they don’t want to be embarrassed if their ticket prices drop to just pennies, they are adamantly opposed to having the market dictate their prices.
Furthermore, since they don’t want to hold multiple shows in every city on their tour, which is another way to thwart the secondary market, their only course of action is to create a ticket that’s non-transferable. Thus, we have the death of the concert ticket or at least its attempted murder.
To replace paper tickets, the industry is looking at several alternatives including mobile tickets, where everything needed to enter the venue is delivered to your smartphone; paperless tickets, you gain access with the credit card you used to buy the tickets; printable tickets, you print the tickets at home; and photographic tickets, you get a ticket with your picture on it and only you can use it to gain entry.
Some of the aforementioned technological advancements are convenient—a nice option for consumers—but they don’t come close to replacing the good old fashion paper ticket. Since none of them have achieved widespread use or acceptance, it’s clear that live music fans don’t want to give up their shoebox full of ticket stubs. The industry is changing but the death of the concert ticket is nowhere in sight.