Tuesday, 21 April 2009

More on ticket scalping

Over at the Virtual Economics blog it is pointed out that Ricky Gervais became the latest in a seemingly never ending list of performers to rail in fury against ticket scalping, that is, the workings of supply and demand. On his blog Gervais writes
Tickets for my Edinburgh show are changing hands for £200 (almost $300). Please don't buy them. The people selling them are scum. I have tried to stop this happening but I can't. I've tried holding tickets back for sale on the night. I've tried putting gigs on sale at the last minute so people don't have time to put them on eBay, but nothing works. I'm flattered that anyone would want to see me that much but it breaks my heart that people spend their hard-earned money because of someone's greed. On my last tour one theatre manager excitedly told me that he'd just seen someone pay a thousand pounds for two tickets right by the ticket office. I think he thought I'd be pleased. I was horrified. Anyway please get a ticket but don't pay too much. That's all I'm saying.
Seamus McCauley at Virtual Economics responds
And, indeed, nothing will, short of playing more nights so that the supply of performances matches the demand for them at whatever price Ricky imagines fair. Want the after-sale ticket price to fall below £200? Put on more shows. You'll know you're doing enough shows when the price on eBay falls to the face value.
Many performers and promoters complain about the activities of ticket scalpers but as Seamus McCauley correctly notes the performers, if they really care about this, have several potent weapons that would eliminate ticket scalping pretty much immediately. They could increase the number of tickets available. This is possible in two ways. First they could increase the number of shows in a given location so that supply of tickets equals the demand for tickets. Secondly they could perform in a larger stadium, which would have the same effect on the supply of tickets. Or a bit of both. Another weapon performers have available to them is to do the economically obvious when facing an excess demand and increase ticket prices up to the market clearing level. This would reduce the reselling of tickets a prices greater than the face value of the ticket.

Given that is it the pricing policies used by the performers that creates the resale market it seems a bit disingenuous for them to complain about it.


V said...

Err, back to the post.

If performers really wanted to reduced ticket scalping, they could use means such as using name/ID on ticket (like airlines) and also prevent refunds.
However performers simply don't have the incentive to create this extra ticketing infrastructure, as a sold ticket is a sold ticket to them. You would also annoy people who wanted to sell their ticket due to unforeseen commitments etc.

Crampton said...

Trent Reznor argued the same thing about ID.