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10 February 2015 @ 01:06 pm
Buying Concert Tickets  
After a couple failed attempts to get in on the presale, i did manage to pick up some tickets for the Rush concert on friday. I decided to go for the 2nd to last concert in Irvine on thursday, rather than the last concert in LA on saturday. (Although Avalyn suggested that if we really enjoy it, LA is close enough that we could just swing by and try picking up a couple tickets at the LA one.)

So it seems that Ticketmaster, or perhaps more accurately "Live Nation", has a new ticket buying system. You can now resell unwanted tickets through their site, and when you try to buy tickets for a concert you have the option to select between original tickets (or whatever you want to call them) or second-hand tickets. This has both significant downsides and upsides.

The downside is that there is almost zero reason for people not to pick up a ticket on pre-order, at least for something popular, because you can almost certainly resell it later, possibly for a significant profit. I was on the site right at the dot and for the first minute or so load was so heavy that they couldn't find me any results. However after that the only tickets available as "fresh" were out at the end of the third tier or in the lawn. However there were a ton of tickets available for resale from just about every part of the amphitheater.

There are four areas to this amphitheatre, the "Orchestra" in front, next the "Lodge", then the "Terrace". There's also a "Pit" that's right in front of the stage, but i've never seen any tickets available for there. I'm not sure if they sell out super early and are never resold, or if they're not put up for general sale, or what.

(If you go to the site for the tickets you can see the layout and the current prices, where they're still available: http://concerts.livenation.com/event/09004E29D2F04437)

It looks like now you can just mouse over the sections and see what's available for what price, but right after they went on sale it was only showing me a list of available tickets. (I'm not sure if they disabled the map during that period or if it just defaulted to that view instead of the map view like it does now and i didn't see the other options.)

The prices for the Orchestra started out at at least $300 per seat (the cheapest one now is $628) while the Lodge seats had a low end of about $140, or maybe a little less. On the plus side they made it easy to restrict your view to just the Orchestra or just the Lodge or just the Terrace. On the minus side there was no to restrict it to just certain sections within a level. You _could_ sort the sections within a level, but you couldn't sort by row.

All this meant that trying to find seats that were in one of the middle Lodges (but probably not the center Lodge, because those seemed to be (expectedly) more expensive) and relatively close to the front (but again, not _too_ close, because expensive) and ideally near the inside edge of the row. And during the whole time i was scrolling up and down seats kept disappearing as people bought them, so i felt this horrible sense of urgency which was preventing me from really being as thorough as i'd have liked.

There seem to be at least some upsides to this. The most obvious being that since you're going through the ticketing agency you can be sure that you're actually getting tickets. I don't know how often scalpers selling fake tickets happens in the real world, but i know it's at least a possibility. And since everyone is trying to resell in the same market you can do comparison shopping for a decent price and the resellers have some reason to keep their price gouging to a reasonable level.

It seems like there really ought to be a better way that doesn't result in everyone grabbing up the tickets as soon as possible and reselling them if necessary/desired later, but i can't really think of what that better system would be. My first thought is having a multi-day period where you could commit to buying tickets at X price and it would keep you updated with where that would place you in the stadium/theatre/whatever. You could up your bid until you were either as close as you wanted or had reached the limit of what you were willing to pay. Except of course that would then result in people hanging back at the last minute so they could snipe the best seats without driving the price up, and you'd end up with last-minute craziness instead of first-minute craziness. You could do an reserve auction system where you bid a price and then listed a price you were willing to go up to to keep your spot, but it would be difficult to work out the mechanics about that except for people who wanted to be in the very front. And with so many people bidding at once as soon as one person's reserve kicked in it could push them ahead of someone else and trigger _their_ reserve, and cause a cascade of automatic bidding.

(And just to add insult to injury, as i was looking at the map while writing this, i noticed two open seats in the second row of the far right Lodge for $174 each (so about $40 more total than what i paid.) I was amazed that seats like that hadn't been snatched up already and i was thinking of grabbing them and trying to resell the old ones, but while i was thinking about it they disappeared. The most obvious interpretation is that they have seats being returned to the pool from time to time (instead of being resold for some reason) and if i really want good seats i need to keep checking the site on a regular basis and keep an eye out for them =P)
Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated
Current Music: Rush - Limelight
Joeblimix on February 11th, 2015 03:57 am (UTC)
What does Live Nation get out of allowing users to scalp tickets at all?* I didn't even know it was legal. For ideal customer service, it would seem perfectly reasonable to allow users to sell tickets back at the price they paid for them, minus a fee for the transaction (which would discourage overzealous buying).

* Of course there are possible reasons. Maybe they get a percentage cut of all resales. Maybe scalping ensures that a show will sell out (leaving scalpers, rather than the venue, holding the bag for unused tickets).
Beth Leonardbeth_leonard on February 11th, 2015 05:54 am (UTC)
I think your asterisk nails it. If the venue gets the same seat re-sold several times as people "trade up" for better seats and they take a small percent every time, they take near-zero risk (the scalpers take that) and they get a cut of every scalper's sale and re-sale.