Promoters auction off best seats
Concert promoters used to sell tickets at set-in-stone prices - even if those prices went up every year.
But a new trend has artists and promoters forcing fans to bid on the best seats in the house - something they only experienced before from rogue Internet entrepreneurs or scalpers.
Frustrated by the astronomical prices some Internet companies get for resold ducats, America's largest ticketing agency, Ticketmaster, has convinced top artists from Coldplay to Bon Jovi to use what they call "dynamic pricing."In this system, the most desirable seats are offered in timed auctions, with bids often opening above the face value of the ticket, then shooting north, based on demand.
This weekend, for instance, Ticketmaster is auctioning the best seats for the Faith Hill/Tim McGraw tour, which hits Madison Square Garden June 23. (Minimum bid: $120, up from the normal top ticket fee of $99.50.)
"This helps keep tickets out of the unauthorized, secondary markets where [another company] determines how much the consumer is going to pay," explains Ticketmaster spokeswoman Bonnie Poindexter. "This way, fans decide."
Yet the fans' bidding process can result in prices that rival even the greediest secondary sellers. The peak price for a single seat during Bon Jovi's last tour via auction was $1,200.
"Dynamic pricing" began in June 2003 for a Lewis Johnson fight in Los Angeles. But it has only started to catch on in the concert industry in the last year. Ticketmaster claims the number of authorized auctions has risen 237% in 2005. The average number of tickets per show sold this way jumped from 17 to 61 last year. But, according to Poindexter, artists and fans have reacted so eagerly that soon Ticketmaster may put as much as half the house on sale by auction for certain shows.
Because this might raise prices overall, observers like Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the concert trade magazine Pollstar, believe some artists are "gun shy that the public will perceive this as gross profiteering."
Yet the industry feels it's more fair for the money to go to those involved in the show than to outsiders. And Poindexter argues that "dynamic pricing" at the top end can lead to a corresponding reduction in prices at the bottom, with people bidding down the nosebleed seats.
Regardless, Bongiovanni believes fans will get over whatever negative perceptions they have, the same way they did with corporate sponsorship at concerts. "People used to be wary," he says, "now, no one's concerned."
There are no comments to display.