Opinion Column

Concert tickets a rigged game

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip.

Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip. GETTY IMAGES

"Ticketing, to put it bluntly, is a fixed game." - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

Tragically Hip fans had almost no chance to get Vancouver tickets for the iconic band’s farewell tour because the ticketing, reselling and concert industry doesn’t blow at high dough.

So seconds after 10 a.m. on Friday, you and I were shut out of buying tickets by a combination of industry greed, insider trading, scalper robots and governments that couldn’t give a rat’s ass about fans.

Call it a fully, completely ticket rip for those who love the Tragically Hip and lead singer Gord Downie, sadly suffering from brain cancer.

Unfortunately, ticketing and reselling businesses, promoters and, yes, even the bands in some cases, don’t want to change a thing – because they make millions more gouging fans.

But New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has blown the whistle, writing:

“A detailed report issued by my office in January finally pulled back the curtain on the ticketing industry, exposing a troubling network of middlemen — brokers, ticket vendors and more — who use any means they can, both legal and illegal, to jack up the price of tickets and squeeze money out of fans.”

And former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard says fans are “totally screwed.”

Why? Schneiderman discovered that fewer than half of tickets go on sale to regular fans, and with popular shows like Katy Perry’s at just 12%.

Instead, they’re offered to promoters, venues, band managers, record labels and the artists themselves.

And they then offer them to resellers like Stubhub – owned by E-Bay – and Tickets Now – now owned by Ticketmaster!

And then there are bots – thousands of robot software programs used by brokers to instantly buy tickets. Schneiderman's investigation found that just one bot bought 1,012 U2 tickets in one minute.

We won’t likely understand what happened here – and I’ve tried contacting Ticketmaster and the Tragically Hip without hearing back by press time.

Hubbard sums it up for fans: “This shouldn’t be a zero-sum game, but it is. And you already lost.”

And there are simple solutions that New York is taking – but not in Canada.

So with one last poignant chance to see Downie singing some of Canada’s greatest rock songs already gone for those without high dough, the ticketing scams are truly tragic.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com or Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman  


Do you believe concert and sporting event ticket sales are conducted fairly?