Although I’ve taken in a good number of concerts – usually at least a couple a year – it’s been some time since I’ve gone through the ticket purchasing process at the exact minute tickets first go on sale. A majority of the time, I could casually shop for the most ideal seat location at least a couple hours after they initially went on sale.
That all changed last week when my sister and I were trying to coordinate buying tickets to a Nickelback concert. My sister mentioned how she noticed that the tickets for a different concert she and her husband are going to had drastically increased in price shortly after they went on sale to the general public (but luckily for her, after they already got theirs).
A little research revealed how certain promoters and ticketing agencies such as Ticketmaster have gone to what was called “airline style dynamic pricing,” which is a fancy way of saying they are now closely adhering to the concept of supply and demand. As demand for an item increases, so too does the price.
Additionally, they have now started sprinkling ticket “packages” into various rows. These packages offer bonuses for buying those tickets, such as backstage passes, various “free” items and other perks – naturally for a higher price than a seat literally right next to it. Included in this are aisle seats, which are all now about $20 more than the other seats in the row.
While all of that makes sense, the extremes to which these ticket prices are going is insane, with “face value” for the exact same seat (or one just a row away) doubling or more just a couple hours after tickets initially go on sale. Thus, the sense of urgency in now getting tickets as soon as they go on sale.
But the inconveniences don’t end there. Now, once you get to the purchasing of the tickets, while you can request to see tickets in a certain section, the list of available tickets is completely random, with no way of requesting to see them in order of “best available” or least expensive. I found myself frantically scrolling up and down the list, trying to find the “best available” at my chosen price point.
As it turned out, I got a pretty good seat (10th row), but when I checked back later out of curiosity, I discovered that after the initial rush for tickets, the website will list tickets in order of “best available.” When I chose that option, it revealed I could have gotten three rows closer for the exact same price. However, if I had waited, I also risked seeing the prices increase without warning.
I get why they’re doing it this way now. According to that same article, concert ticket sales now make up 70% of an artist’s revenue. Plus, they need to find a way to combat legalized outside resale sites such as StubHub.
But knowing why doesn’t lessen the sting to the pocketbook when you have to shell out a lot more money than even a year or so ago to see the same band at the same venue.
BILL STICKELS III is editor of the Isanti-Chisago County Star. He can be reached at 763-689-1181 ext. 107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.