Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Eric Church Screws His Fans, Bites the Hand That Feeds

"Ticket scalping" is a good thing. It's good for fans, it's good for performers, it's good for promoters. It's good, period. Jeffrey Tucker explains why at FEE  and I'll weigh in at the end of this post with a boring personal anecdote on the topic, but just trust me on it for a minute.

As is usually the case with popular performers on tour, "secondary market" sellers, aka "scalpers," bought up a bunch of tickets for Eric Church's "Holdin' My Own Tour."

As is not usually the case, Church canceled 25,000 tickets that he believed to have been purchased by "scalpers." The fans who bought those tickets retail? Well, maybe they'll get their money back, maybe they won't; maybe they'll find a way to attend his concerts, maybe they won't. Quoth a Church spokesperson: "Ticket scalpers got their money back, and we would expect that scalpers would in turn refund their customers. But with ticket scalpers, you never know!"

If they don't, then it's just this simple: Eric Church stole the opportunity to see him perform that his fans paid their hard-earned money for.

Even if they do get refunds, and even if they do manage to find other tickets, he tried to screw them good and hard, in the name of helping them and maybe even in the genuine belief that he was helping them.

Whether he's a low-down dirty thief or just abysmally ignorant of some pretty basic economics, the result is the same. But if the latter, hopefully someone will do him, and his fans, the favor of sitting him down and educating him. Shouldn't take more than 15 minutes if he's teachable.

OK, my scalper anecdote:

Back in 1995, I wanted to see R.E.M. on their Monster tour, at Sandstone (now the Providence Medical Center Amphitheater) in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

This was 1995, long before Internet ticket sales was the usual way of doing things. What you did was:

  1. Find out what day and time tickets were going on sale and what the phone number was to order them over;
  2. Sit at your phone hitting redial for, quite possibly, several hours and hope to get through before the tickets were sold out. Luck of the draw.
Which is what I did, and after three hours or so I got through and got tickets. Two of them. Both "lawn seat," because everything else was sold out. $25 per ticket. But I had planned on buying, and was willing to pay for, much better seats.

So my wife and I arrived at Sandstone a couple of hours before the show. We found a scalper and, in exchange for our two lawn seat tickets and $100, got two tickets for the 13th row, not far from center stage.

They were worth every damn penny. And I bet the scalper sold those lawn seats at the very last minute for $5 or $10 a pop, just to unload them, to some of the kids who were hanging out waiting for that moment and who couldn't have afforded to see the show at all unless they got that kind of deal.

Everybody won. The band and the promoter filled the house (and got a lot of their money up front instead of in dribbles) and four people got to see the show from the seats they wanted and/or could afford.

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