Ticket Resale is Hip, Tragically

We are among a host of fans disappointed by not being able to see one of the farewell concerts for the Tragically Hip. Our decision to try our luck old school – by being at a registered ticket agent the moment they go on sale, in hindsight is quite wistful. The odds are against us. Just like they are for anyone hopeful to attend big concerts these days due in part to the ticket resale market.

Backlash online following our encounter at a Burlington mall is particularly tender. This concert series has a definite finality attached to it. Fans are asking scalpers, ‘is anything sacred?’ But we should direct our questions to the ticket industry itself – which rigs the game against the fans from the start.


Ticketmaster tickets. File photo.

The announcement of Gord Downie and his recent cancer diagnosis is the reason for these shows. The Tragically Hip is touring this summer across the country for a real farewell tour. Naturally, digital scalpers scoop up scores of tickets during a pre-sale online. They are making money when fans buy them at a markup. Ticket resale is profitable. A few days later, the general release of tickets promptly sell-out – as you would expect, fans get upset.

A local radio show host takes it upon himself to vent. The station pranks a scalper selling a ticket for $2000. They make him drive to St. Catharines from Toronto and air a phone exchange between the host and scalper.


New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman: The Wall Street Journal.

The Truth about Ticket Sales

A recent report from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reveals that scalpers aren’t solely to blame for ticket scarcity. In truth, less than half of all tickets for any venue are already gone before most pre-sales.

Their analysis of ticket resale in the report uncovers that concert tickets leak out bits at a time. Unsurprisingly, private pre-sales to small groups (American Express credit card holders, venue distinctive guests, promoter guest lists and fan clubs) get a chance before the general ‘on-sale’ happens.


Excerpt from the New York Attorney General report of ticket resales.

What is the most startling revelation of these reports? That there is a huge block of tickets being held back before pre-sales happen. The report cites concerts where stakeholders in the show, venue or band reserve a claim to all of the best seats. Think employee rewards, gifts for business partners, a promotional give-away, or radio gimmicks. In some cases, only 15% of total tickets are available to regular fans.

These seats too can make their way into the ticket resale market. Add to that the efficiency of the scalper today and their digital army of bots blasting past CAPTCHA faster than you can reload your website and you’re out of the game. It’s tragic.

Back at the Mall & The Potential Broadcast of the Concert

Our exploit at the ticket agent has us behind only one other person in a small line. We all are looking to score tickets to a Hamilton performance by the Hip. Ahead, we hear there is one ticket available. We hear grumblings when the patron cannot get a group of tickets together. They try again – and low and behold – that sole ticket is now unavailable.  The show is sold out.

It’s okay. We are more like casual fans of the Tragically Hip, anyway. We like the music, but are eager to attend the show with more of a kind of fascination rather than fervor for the band.


The Tragically Hip entertain at a hockey game: Toronto Star.

Our condolences go out to Gord Downie and his family following his diagnosis of terminal brain cancer.   Our sympathies to the legion of fans that aren’t able to attend what is sure to be a fond farewell.

Later, we learn that the CBC will seek out rights to broadcast the final Tragically Hip show to the country. A move that reads that, though ticket resale is big business – in our humble opinion, any event big enough to cause such a controversy is big enough to be seen by all.