We Are The Robots
Fee Free Friday is back with the TMZ-style news of outrageous ticket fees and services charges. This week, more than one major media outlet has called the ticket sales for Kraftwerk at the Tate Modern museum a "fiasco" and we find out why. We also find some very, very unhappy New York Yankee fans standing on top of an "artificial floor". Plus the little town of Bethlehem gets it right when it comes to the use of ticket fees.
Can you believe that in the middle of the Kraftwerk ticket disaster someone said "All is forgiven, Ticketmaster"? We can't either...
We Are The Robots
In 1978, the legendary electronic band Kraftwerk released their album entitled 'The Robots'. Little did they know that album title would prove prophetic some 34 years later. Earlier this week tickets went on sale for a rare performance by Kraftwerk and the results were not pretty.
Instead of traditional concert venues, Kraftwerk intends to perform at art museums. For those not familiar with the band that may seem an odd choice. Devoted Krfatwerk fans know that an art museum is the perfect setting for the avant-garde music and stage presence. The problems that plagued the ticket sale are all related to the art museums not being prepared for the massive demand Kraftwerk tickets bring. Case in point is one of the schedule museum for Kraftwerk, the Tate Modern in Liverpool.
The Independent has a first hand account of just how badly things went:
Tate bosses have apologized "unreservedly" for a ticketing disaster this week which left many fans of German electronic group Kraftwerk unable to see the band after the gallery's website could not cope with demand. Most of the tickets ended up being sold by phone, leading to lengthy waits which left many fans disappointed.
The Tate said it had expected its website to cope with the volume of traffic but admitted that it had been overwhelmed by the phenomenal number of people attempting to access it simultaneously.
The museum has since posted another apology on its website as well as several mea culpa tweets. Kraftwerk fans have also taken to Twitter to express their disappointment (and anger) at the botch ticket sale. As of this writing, all Kraftwerk tickets are sold out completely, and both the band and all the venues are urging the public to not buy tickets from unauthorized third parties.
The Internet is rife with rumors that the problems of the museum online ticket outlet being "overwhelmed" was because of massive "ticket bot" networks, not humans. The title of the band's famous album ('The Robots') becomes a cruel bit of irony if this turns out to be true.
Among all the woe, is an odd bright spot though, one that has gone under-reported.
Gig 52 just posted 'All is forgiven, Ticketmaster!' which is a short tirade-turned-praise for the Kraftwerk ticket problems The post chronicles the same inability to buy Kraftwerk tickets experience elsewhere, but then switches gears to be a pseudo love letter to ticket industry giant Ticketmaster.
Since the Tate Modern did not use a third party ticketing software vendor, and relied on its own website, Gig 52 wishes Ticketmaster would have managed the sale - ticket fees included.
The news and PR disaster that was the Tate Modern’s attempt to become a concert venue ticket seller for the Kraftwerk series of concerts, let me put it in black and white for you here...utter utter disaster!
The short version, after my experience yesterday, is that Ticketmaster et al can be forgiven for almost anything and appear to be well worth the fee they take, be it 20% or otherwise.
To put it in context, at the rate of 7,200 tickets sold in 10 hours yesterday, it would take weeks for Glastonbury to sell out and probably lead to a substantial reduction in the productive output of a notable volume of the UK population during this time as they would continually be on the phone hitting the redial button trying to get through as opposed to focusing on studying, working or their other daily commitments! As I say, Ticketmaster et al, all is forgiven…
Rather than recant all of the unreasonable ticket fees the industry giant has imposed in the past, we will just say that venues not accustomed to high demand events should look before they leap and review all of the available third party ticket platforms - including ours. :)
William Juliano wrote 'The Hubbub Over StubHub' earlier this week for the New York Yankee fan site 'The Pinstripe Bible'. Juliano writes of the new ticket distribution deal the Yankees have with Ticketmaster, designed specifically to maintain a so-called "floor" for ticket prices.
The Yankees had a loosely formulated secondary distribution deal with another industry giant, StubHub, which has since been replaced with Ticketmaster. The MLB and the Yankees have expressed a concern that the same laws of supply and demand from which they benefited from, are now a cause of a fiscal pain point.
When demand for tickets is low, the price plummeted purported to just pennies on the dollar. Major League Baseball has been aggressive in its use of so-called "dynamic pricing" that sets face values based on anticipated demand, but goes so far as to factor in variables such as nice weather.
When demand is low, prices plummet, hence the Yankees seeking a "floor" to keep tickets profitable.
Fans know that when a professional sports team is doing well, ticket prices go up - within reason. What fans will not tolerate are large blocks of tickets being sent to secondary distributors, bypassing direct-to-fan sales outlets, and then exorbitant price hikes are applied. In past Fee Free Fridays you may have read face values being marked-up to more than 2,000%. The face value mark-ups are forms of ticket fees and are met with disdain just like "venue maintenance fee - $4.50".
In defense of the Yankee's deal with Tickemaster, Juliano writes:
Ultimately, the devil may be in the details. If the new arrangement with Ticketmaster strikes a fair balance between season ticket holder preservation and individual game value buyers, the uproar over the Yankees' decision to opt out of the StubHub deal will subside. And, if the TicketMaster terms prove excessively weighted toward sellers, the outcry will get louder. Either response would be legitimate. However, let's agree to wait for those details to emerge.
Fee Free Friday will keep a close eye on the developments and report back as the situation warrants.
O Little Town of Bethlehem
The fanciful holiday hymn 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' makes people happy. The city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is singing a different tune. But it is not what you would expect for a Fee Free Friday line item...
Earlier the county in which Bethlehem resides found that the costs of security and sanitation for big concerts was too much for their budget to bear and ask to have ticket fees imposed. The move was met with resistance but is now all but a foregone conclusion.
Patch.com Editor Daryl Nerl explains:
The tax on concert tickets and other entertainment is needed to help pay for escalating public safety costs without putting more of the burden on city property owners. While the imposition of any new tax is not a welcome act, we believe that this tax, which excludes tickets, admissions and cover charges of $10 or less and has a maximum of 5 percent or $1.50 per ticket, will not have a significant impact on concert, sports and theatre ticket sales as it is less than the state sales tax on goods and services.
The ticket fee is of a reasonable amount ($1.50) and there are proper exemptions like no fee if the event is for less than 200 people or if the ticket price is $10 or less. The city has got ticket fees right and area residence will be less inclined to initiate legal action to limit events, something no one wants.
It isn't often you read of ticket fees that Fee Free Friday deems "Ok", but when fees are appropriate, the dollar amount reasonable, and there are smart exemptions that help small events thrive, we will endorse them!
Wall of Woe
Ticket fees imposed by little towns in Pennsylvania notwithstanding, the normal misery unreasonable per-ticket fees and services charges cause continues unabated. This week's Wall of Woe shows that the public resentment is just getting louder and louder.
"Ticketmaster and their $14 convenience charge bull*hit. God i ****ing hate that s*** so much."
"I'd like to press charges on Ticketmaster and Stubhub for their crock of s***business."
"So it comes to the last few pages of booking… and Ticketmaster shoves a $9 booking fee on both tickets. I was pissed
"I couldn't get bieber fever presale tickets yesterday OR the internet presales today. I HATE YOU TICKETMASTER"
Sell Tickets with Low Fees
It has been a bumpy week for the ticket industry. Distribution fiascoes, fan unfriendly deals between mega-ticket outlets and sports franchises, and we're still recovering from tickets to a charity event being resold for five figures. It need not be like this. Unreasonable ticket fees hurt the entire industry- everyone - the fans, the venues and the artists. There is a better way. Sell tickets with low ticket fees or no fees.
ThunderTix does not charge you per ticket fees for selling tickets online or at the box office. We encourage you to pass along that savings to the consumer and show them the long term vision of your business is tied directly to their satisfaction. Your patrons will love that you don’t add fees. It’s that simple. Lower ticket costs through no added fees translate into higher sales and greater patron satisfaction.
Fee Free Friday will be back next week with more perfect good events ruined by unreasonable ticket fees. Sell Tickets online with no fees on ThunderTix.