Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hannah Montana, Led Zep and the madness of crowds

In the states district attorneys are getting involved in the controversy over tickets to see Disney teen star Hannah Montana. There's dark talk of software that can jump Ticketmaster's digital queues and lots of articulate middle class mothers who are determined to satisfy their desperate daughters and are not going to be fobbed of with talk of supply and demand. As head teachers and hotel managers all over the world have the scars to attest, these people have a habit of getting what they want and in this case they're not above picking up the phone to local officials.
Meanwhile, closer to home, Harvey Goldsmith is at daggers-drawn with eBay over the resale of Led Zeppelin tickets, which are being advertised at ten times their face value. The government meanwhile blandly holds to the view that pretty much anything that can be bought can also be sold, which sounds about right. In the past these were the kind of problems you only came up against when you camped outside Earls Court. These people didn't have credit cards and rarely got indignant. When they didn't get what wanted they muttered "bummer" and went to the pub. But now they hold the reins of the economy in their hands, they feel very differently and the audience for live rock and roll has grown from a passionate minority to an hysterical majority.


  1. Slightly off-topic, but did you hear anything about the recent Barbara Streisand concert in Ireland? Shoddy organisation, bad parking and people who were sitting in the wrong seats refusing to move... Basically the stuff of most outdoor shows I've ever been to really. Which is why I avoid them eherever possible.

    The difference here is that the audience for Babs weren't the usual 20somethings that will take what they're given and not complain but mostly middle-aged couples who demand a certain level of organisation and entertaiment for their money and aren't going to slope off quietly when they don't get what they feel they paid for..

    In the end the complaints led to an independent enquiry and a recommendation to refund or otherwise compensate the injured parties..

    Here's the link to the committee's website:

    I wonder if I can still complain about REM at Slane in '95!

  2. You can guarantee this won’t be happening in twenty years time though.

    There has always been, and will always be a brisk service with short shelf life sugar rush pop for teens.‘You're so sheer you're so chic Teenage rebel of the week’ as Roxy put it.

    But the artists that typically (Led Zep excluded) generate this sort of high volume hysteria know ticket buyers are paying purely to catch them before they retire (again) or peg out, and are tickling your memories while picking your pockets as badly as the t’internet touts.

    It may sound grand, but we’ve been through a ‘renaissance’ period in Rock and no one today (apart from possibly Madonna), will be capable of cashing in on this scale again

  3. I've said before I do feel aggrieved that e-bay speculators can clog up the booking system on the day of release stopping people who want tickets from getting them first hand. There's nothing we can do about this except enforce the income tax laws on e-bay a bit more.
    By the way edwyn Collins tickets are on sale at ticketmaster I got mine and I won't be selling them on. And tm sorted out a problem on my order with no quibbles bless them

  4. See the problem isn't that people are allowed to re-sell on ebay as such, is it? Rather it's the fact that the democratisation of ticket buying/selling brought about by the internet means that whereas, back in the day, if you wanted to catch whatever act you were into, you possibly needed to make a physical effort to get the tickets. This effort might involve having to queue outside your local record shop the night before, but it separated the sheep from the goats, if you will.

    Nowadays, any twunt who couldn't give an honest continental frig about seeing *any* live music can get his tickets at least AS easily as a genuine person, all the while, no doubt, sitting at home in his jim-jams and munching on a nice bowl of Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes. If what's been linked to by David is true, he our cereal munching chum be even *ahead* of genuine fans in the queue for tickets.

    That's the problem; it's not that genuine fans can't be arsed to get themselves tickets as such, it's that the touts have just as much a chance, and in a lot of cases more resources than the genuine punters.

  5. When you live 30 miles from the nearest big city venues and the box offices are only open between 10am and 5pm (and closed for lunch) it used to be a major problem for even proper fans getting tickets for gigs. The Internet should have been the solution to the problem... and it still could be - here's my plan... Make sure that only fans get the tickets by including a straightforward multiple choice quiz about the band (with a few tricky questions built in) that only really big fans will know the answers to. For the first few hours only allow applicants with all the answers to buy tickets - the touts won't know the answers and by the time they've found out what the answers are all the tickets will be gone to real fans. I've tried the same trick reselling a ticket outside a sold out gig to make sure that I'm not selling to a tout.

  6. wikipedia may dash your cunning planning

  7. When Genesis announced their date at Twickenham, there was a pre-sale for members of the band's Internet forum. Unsurprisingly, the forum's membership rocketed, and most of the new members never posted so much as a line. Still, I got my tickets, had a lovely evening and felt kindly towards a band that gave its fans a fighting chance of beating the touts. By the time the US dates had been announced, the forum had been replaced with - get this - a new forum that required a paid membership. So, on top of the inflated ticket price, the US fans had to shell out another sizeable sum to guarantee getting their tickets. By the time the Police announced dates, I had reached the conclusion that the whole bunch of multi-millionaire cunts could whistle for a share of my overdraft.

  8. Anonymous4:32 pm

    The real problem with the touts and agencies is that because of the massive wads of cash they can make, they can tip a nice little earner to the poorly paid box office staff. Result: they get the best seats in the house to sell on for large profits. Otherwise why do agencies always have the front rows? I wonder why. Compound that with the amateur touts who use Ebay, and it is little wonder that real fans can't even get through to the box office or website. It is a shambles.