Sunday, 30 September 2007

Raging Against The Scalpers

Like tens of thousands of you, I sought to buy Rage Against The Machine tickets on Thursday. But unlike most of you, I succeeded. And no, this post is not to brag, or even celebrate seeing the most influential band on my life, its to address the "scalper" issue and every last whining voice blaming the scalpers for missing out.

Know Your Enemy
A quick check to eBay will show several tickets going at incredibly inflated prices. And I'm sure most of you will realise that most of them are joke bids. There is no-one in their right mind who is going to pay $4000 a ticket to see a band (maybe there are some who are truly out of their minds), and the panic about missing out it seems is causing otherwise sane people to still spend several hundred dollars to scalpers just in case its their only chance. But here is the simple truth.

* Scalped tickets made up a very small percentage of the total tickets sold
Its true. There were ~20,000 tickets sold in the space of 5 minutes. And how many of them are up on eBay. Would be surprised if 1,000 of the total will be scalped in the end. If 1,000 tickets are scalped, that is still only 5% of the total number sold and almost everyone you see at the gig will be a legitimate patron who bought the tickets with their hard earned money without dealing with the scalper scum.

* Even without scalpers you still would have missed out
Unless you were the first in line not to receive a ticket or you logged onto Ticketmaster at 9:01, there really would have been no difference in the outcome of your venture. Just one less person to blame for failure. (to those who had tickets online which the system screwed up on, you can blame Ticketmaster)

* The real reason you missed out was because demand far outstripped supply
Its a hard truth to swallow, but its a grim reality you must face. 12,500 tickets to Sydney and 7,500 tickets to Melbourne was no-one near enough to keep everyone satisfied. My guess is the BDO is going to sell out in record time and well so be ready for a shitfight for tickets. RATM are just that popular. There was a reason people camped out for 34 hours you know.

Calm Like A Bomb
For the record I think scalpers are scum. Seeing people who exploit the desperation of others is just a horrendous thing to do. Opportunistic to no end, its akin to rubbing salt into an already gaping wound. As we move into a digital age where the practice becomes easier, more anonymous and incredibly profitable, there is a growing need to stamp out this practice.

I can see why there is such an outrage off scalpers. When they can get away with charging 5 times the cost price, there is going to be that gut-wrenching reaction. Its ripping people off plain and simple. Now in a capitalist society that is fine to do (and I won't delve into the irony of RATM tickets being auctioned off), though there is a reason why it feels so wrong. There is no regulation, there is a huge profit margin - which retail stores could only dream of passing onto the consumer.

Now I'm one of those people who would pay hundreds to see RATM. Love the band, absolutely worship Tom Morello, and if the money went to them, or to a charity, or to any real cause, I'd gladly pay a huge amount. But when 80% of the cost is taken by some retard profiteering of other peoples hard work, there is no satisfaction in it. Anyone who paid a scalper is paying dirty money. And anyone who complains about scalping while purchasing tickets at well above cost price should shut the fuck up because you are the people who are keeping their business afloat.

Take The Power Back
Now here comes my pathetic attempt to act positive and offer some solution, as we all need some hope in these supposedly dark times. So here are my suggestions for ways to stop this scourge on the concert goer. Please try these options before bitching about the practice anonymously on the Internet.

* Complain to your local member
Occasionally we should remember that we live in a democratic society, one where there are rules which we need to abide by. It doesn't have to be "fuck the system" to get the social justice that RATM promotes in its music, because if there is one thing I have learnt from the religious right, its that if you decide to play the game, you can use the system very well. Talk to your local member, complain about how in a time where it was made illegal to scalp ashes tickets that it wasn't made illegal to scalp concert tickets. Complain of eBay profiteering, complain of lack of regulation, complain of people ripping fellow Aussies off. There are 2 levels of government to try, as well as potential candidates looking for your vote in an impending federal election...

* Contact the promoters directly
Not all promoters are evil and there are some who are actively taking a stand against scalping. The people who run the BDO (and are promoting RATM) took a massive stand last year, only for eBay to turn around and sue. So there are promoters on our side. But its not enough for one or two to go at it alone. Alert as many promoters as possible, raise your concerns, make sure they understand how bad the practice is. Tbh, I don't think this method would achieve anything but it needed to be said.

* Place fake bids on eBay
Sounds nice in theory, register an account, put a huge bid to inflate the price beyond anyone buying it, wait for auction to end, scalper relists, process gets repeated, in the end the scalper offers it cheap so you stop harassing them. In reality its a minor distraction and way more effort than its worth. Channel your anger and frustration some other way, something far more useful instead of just trying to band-aid the problem.

* Don't buy from scalpers
Ok, we exhausted all proper channels, now its time for the people power social justice channel all you young RATM idealists have been waiting for. Its a very simple concept really, just don't buy off scalpers unless they sell it at cost price. If people stopped paying a premium on tickets for these whores to sell to you, they could no longer turn tricks for money. If you know anyone who pays a scalper, make sure they know that they are dealing with scum. Avoid them at all costs yourself, even if you miss out to your favourite band, don't pay the premium. Its dirty, that ticket has been tainted with the bad blood. Now if only those anti-piracy ads could be extended to scalping "Scalping causes terrorism"... Nothing like moral panic to stop a practice.

Unfortunately that method requires restraint from everyone, and that is the problem in the first place. So in the end, the is no easy solution, just a series of diversions that may stop the practice. We can't rely on the government to step in and make it all better, bunch of bureaucratic bastards waiting for re-election so they can keep cashing their six-figure salaries. We can't rely on promoters, as they have to work within the confines of the system. We can't rely on each other either, as we keep paying huge amounts for tickets to whores.

I'd be interested in hearing ideas for what can be done, but I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR THE REASON WHY YOU MISSED OUT WAS SCALPERS. You missed out plain and simple because there weren't enough tickets to go around. See RATM at the BDO, their set will probably be the same, they aren't The Cure after all.

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