Ticket Scalping: The State Of The Union

When Radiohead tickets went on sale on the morning of March 1, nobody expected them to last long. Even still, Ticketek and Ticketmaster exhausting their respective allocations in just under half-an-hour caused astonishment within the local music industry. What turned out to be more astonishing still, was how quickly those same tickets started appearing on eBay at greatly inflated prices: the dreaded scalpers had struck again, in some cases charging $1,299.00 for two tickets – five times the original retail price.

Within minutes fans were voicing their grievances via social media, and the same day Chugg Entertainment, who are handling the November tour, released a statement on Facebook promising to cancel any tickets identified as having breached the conditions of sale.

The whole episode has once again shone a light on ticket scalping. What was once the domain of sidewalk desperados has been given a dose of sophistication for the digital era, skilled resellers targeting the online sale of concert tickets, snapping up as many tickets as they can before flipping them for higher prices via online auction sites such as eBay. There’s little doubt the practice is becoming more popular.

It can be a lucrative exercise for those who play their cards carefully, but is it morally wrong? And if so, how much damage does it do and what’s the best way to tackle the problem? Many a reseller will tell you that they’re simply facilitating a floating market price for concert tickets: if this is the case, should that perhaps be done from the outset?

To find out, FasterLouder worked the address book. We spoke to two artists;Kimbra, who has just had her first experience with scalping in the United States and is now staring down the barrel of it happening again for her return Australian tour, and Jimmy Barnes, whose band Cold Chisel is pushing for Government legislation of the issue. We picked the minds of two industry representatives; Danny Rogers who heads up St Jerome’s Laneway Festival and Chugg Entertainment’s Managing Director Matthew Lazarus-Hall. And we also dug up a reseller: we wanted to know why he scalps concert tickets, how much it contributes to his income, and whether or not he considers it to be unethical. He asked for his surname to be withheld.

It’s an issue that simply won’t lie down, either, with Prince tickets going on sale on Monday morning – the initial Sydney and Melbourne shows selling out in four minutes and those same tickets once again quickly appearing on eBay.

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