Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Anyone buying or selling a ticket for LCD Soundsystem?

The story of LCD Soundsystem’s run-in with Ticketmaster ahead of their Last Ever Show at New York’s Madison Square Garden is a salutory reminder of the live industry’s enduring power plays. The gig sold out in jig-time, but the tickets …

Thu, Feb 24, 2011, 09:51

   

The story of LCD Soundsystem’s run-in with Ticketmaster ahead of their Last Ever Show at New York’s Madison Square Garden is a salutory reminder of the live industry’s enduring power plays. The gig sold out in jig-time, but the tickets got into the hands of touts and scalpers rather than Ordinary Decent Fans. Even James Murphy was fuming about this state of affairs, leading him to add a string of shows at NYC’s Terminal 5 in the hope of making things up to the fans.

As Rob Cox notes, this is a story about supply, demand and price. “The quick sellout proves that demand for the tickets far outpaced supply. Higher resale prices corroborate this. On this level, the band simply misjudged interest and the price people — at least as represented by the resellers — would be willing to pay.”

Aside from the supply and demand gigonomics, which means people outside the band’s orbit were dictating the ticket prices, Murphy also had an issue with TicketsNow. This is the Ticketmaster-affiliated secondary ticketing agency who are making out like bandits selling tickets for the show which Ticketmaster had already sold. It’s the same issue which Irish promoters are increasingly having with Get Me In, which is another Ticketmaster-affiliated secondary ticketing agency, as the ticketing mogul seeks to get two bites of the cherry and helps to keep the other ticket market humming. There hasn’t been too much discussion of the secondary ticketing market over here – mainly because the days of fast gig sell-outs are largely now a thing of the past – but it hasn’t gone away.

However, the surprising issue to me in all of this is Murphy and LCD Soundsystem’s naivety about what has happened. You would think that an experienced band who’ve toured the world several times would know very well how an agency like Ticketmaster operate and how tickets for a gig like this get sold. It’s no secret that only a very small proportion of tickets for a hot gig actually go on sale to punters (this is something Murphy’s agent could have told him long before the show was set up) and, while it is touching to read Murphy say that the band didn’t think they’d be able to fill the venue, such self-effacement doesn’t wash when your fans can’t get tickets to the show.

Then again, it’s handy for all concerned – bands, fans, agents and promoters – to have Ticketmaster as a whipping boy. The bucks are passed every which way. Time and time again, we see the ticketing mogul get kicked in the nuts over stories like this. Time and time again, the ticketing mogul sighs, counts the cash and passes the rebates back to the promoter. Ticketmaster takes the heat and everyone else gets on with the game while tut-tutting about Ticketmaster and saying “something has to be done”. Because Ticketmaster takes the heat, it can keep charging those wallet-gouging fees. Ticketmaster’s role as live industry whipping boy is why all-in ticket prices (where the ticket price quoted includes all charges and not just the “booking fee”) are unlikely to appear in the short to medium term. Why ‘fess up to the real costs when you can blame Ticketmaster for everything?

Of course, there were options and alternatives for LCD Soundsystem if they seriously wanted to sell tickets for their Last Ever Show to Ordinary Decent Fans. Yes, these would require an investment of time, effort and initiative. Yes, it would be difficult for all concerned. But it didn’t happen so spare me the self-righteous hand-wringing. Leave that for the Green Party on Sunday morning. All involved here were adults and knew what they were doing. Next!

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