Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Norah Jones -- Where Have All the Tickets Gone?

I was talking to my friend Will Briarwood again, and he had another concert story.

“You know, we're getting older, but we’re still young enough to go to concerts.”

You went to another concert?

“Not yet -- I got tickets to the Norah Jones show.”

Is this going to be another rant about Ticketmaster?

“No. It’s going to be a rant about ticket scalpers and ebay.”

You got your tickets from a scalper on ebay?

“No, no, let me explain. Norah Jones is rather popular, as you know.”

I saw that her album debuted at number one on Billboard, and of course, it’s number one at Amazon.

“And she’s going on tour. And she’s coming to the Chicago Theatre in May.”

You have some sort of ‘in’ with the Chicago Theatre, if I recall.

“I donate money to the theatre, so I’m a Chicago Theatre Insider. So I get access to presales, and I usually get great seats.”

I recall you saying you saw Bonnie Raitt from the first few rows.

“And John Fogerty, and Dolly Parton, and James Taylor, and my wife and her daughter saw Carly Simon, all in the first five or six rows. So I had high hopes for some great Norah Jones tickets.”


“Well, I did get good seats. I think I’m about twenty rows back. I e-mailed the theatre to ask why the tickets were a lot farther back than usual, and the response was that it was a very popular concert.”

Perhaps more people are becoming Chicago Theatre Insiders.

“Which would be good for the theatre, I guess. But then tickets also went through Target and WXRT.”

I don’t follow.

“WXRT had a presale for the show. And I think if you bought the new cd at Target, you got access to their presale. And I think Norah’s e-mail list was also offering a presale. So I’m sure they took a bunch of the tickets. Anyway, I thought I would check ticketmaster-dot-com for tickets when they went on sale this morning, to see if maybe I could find some better seats. Tickets went on sale at 10am, and at 10:01am I was getting the ‘no tickets available’ message.”

That was quick. How could all those tickets sell out in one minute?

“I told you this was going to be a rant about scalpers and ebay, didn’t I?”

You think a lot of the tickets went to scalpers?

“I checked ebay a little while ago, and there were already sixty-one lisings for
norah jones chicago. That’s only three hours after tickets went on sale – I’m sure there will be a lot more listings over the next few months.”

Ebay does let ticket scalpers access tickets and buyers all over the country.

“You know, I’m generally in favor of fewer rules for ebay, rather than more restrictions.”

I think we’ve both bought a few bootleg cd’s on ebay.

“But I don’t think ebay was driving up the price of cd’s. With a limited supply of tickets, and more scalpers all over the country getting them and selling them on ebay, that leaves fewer tickets for the local fans to buy.”

So you don’t think ebay should allow ticket scalping? Aren’t there rules limiting the resale price?

“Yeah, there are rules. There are also millions of auctions on ebay every day – you think they have time to enforce all the rules?”

So, what’s the solution?

“I think the best solution is to require that the buyer present an ID at the show, with the ticket – that would prevent resale.”

I wonder why more performers don’t do that.

“Too much work, maybe. It’s just easier to just sell them and collect their money.”

At least you did get tickets. Who’s going with you?

“Don’t know yet. The wife isn’t a fan.”

I heard The Arcade Fire is coming to the Chicago Theatre in a few months – they’ll be doing three shows, so tickets should be a bit easier to come by.

“Stay tuned.”

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