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Who really benefits from paperless concert tickets?

Miley Cyrusscalperssecondary marketsstubhubTicketmaster

TM-Miley Ever noticed how many digital "innovations" in the entertainment industry narrow (or attempt to narrow) the rights of customers? That's one ramification of the decision by Ticketmaster, AEG Live and Miley Cyrus to sell "paperless" tickets to Cyrus' fall tour. The seats are being sold online (only to fan-club members at this point), but buyers won't be able to get into the show unless they flash the credit card used to make the purchase and a matching "government issued ID." As a consequence, if you buy tickets to see Cyrus, you're stuck with them -- even if your plans change or your daughter gets the flu the day of the show. (From a Ticketmaster FAQ page: "There are no refunds for this event.") Nor is there any hope for you if the show sells out before you get the chance to buy in. And forget about giving the seats as a gift. If you buy them, Mom and Dad, you're going along for the ride.

Given the restrictions, "paperless" tickets seem like a lower-value option. But don't expect a discount -- no, in Ticketmaster's view, this is a good thing for customers. Why? According to the company's website, "Paperless ticketing ensures that only fans can purchase tickets and attend the event." In other words, no scalpers or resellers will be jumping in line ahead of Cyrus' devoted followers! Granted, scalpers have become more aggressive and ruthlessly effective now that tickets are sold online. Yet they're hardly the only reason fans have been having a tough time scoring seats to hot shows. As the Journal noted in a damning story in March, some top artists and promoters (including AEG Live) create an artificial scarcity by setting aside good seats for resellers, in addition to the ones reserved for fan clubs. They do this because those artists aren't willing to price the best seats as high as the market will pay for them, yet they, their promoters and Ticketmaster deeply resent the ability of resellers and scalpers to capitalize on that demand. So they find ways to sell tickets at fat-cat prices without the stigma of appearing to cater to fat cats.

Secondary markets are important. They help overcome the inefficiencies in primary markets, while giving purchasers a safety net. If "paperless" tickets are the only option for consumers, there will be no secondary market unless Ticketmaster provides one. That's quite a power grab for a company that's awaiting the Justice Department's approval for a blockbuster merger (with Live Nation, the country's leading concert promoter). Perhaps that's why Ticketmaster is doing this round of "paperless" tickets with AEG Live, one of Live Nation's competitors....

-- Jon Healey


Comments () | Archives (15)

The comments to this entry are closed.


And there's another reason for them to want paperless tickets and restrict the resell of tickets as our site and several others have pointed out, VIP tickets at inflated prices!


Next step: Transfer paperless tickets online at ticketmaster.com (ticketexchange) for a 15% fee. This will be the only sanctioned method of transfering tickets and Ticketmaster is the only company that will benefit.


I worked for a ticket broker for 5 years. Small companies made over 3k on Miley Cyrus, alone... Trust me, this is a GOOD thing. This SCREWS the entire ticket re-sell industry. NONE OF THEM can re-sell tickets for this event.


This is not keeping the scalpers away. Just look on e bay. The scalpers are offering to walk you into the concert. I don't know how the really good seats get taken so fast. I was on ticketmaster the second they went on sale but still only mannaged to grab moderatly good seats. 6 rows from the top of the first section.


Attention ticket master!!! go check out ebay and see how well your new paperless system is working.


Did you know that Miley Cyrus is scalping her own tickets? http://www.ticketnews.com/Miley_Cyrus_is_scalping_her_own_tickets223085


Another reason this is a bad idea - people do sometimes change their credit card numbers. This happened to me when one of my credit cards had to be cancelled when the number was stolen. Suddenly the card I had used for the purchase is no longer good, and the new card has a different number on it.


Tracy, 6 rows from the top of the first section and you consider only moderately good? wow...

Doug Martoccia

Scalp the scalpers! Why not just put the whole selling process on e-bay?


I managed to get a front row seat on the side section closest to the stage for $79. I was amazed. That never happened before. The VIP tickets that ticketmaster is reporting they will be selling for $300 is still reasonable for front and center seats w/ backstage passes. Scalpers were fetching $1,500 for the bests seats for Miley's last tour.


I can't stand Ticketmaster, but I love the idea of having to show ID for a show. I can see how showing the credit card could be problematic, so why not make it where you have to enter the name of the person attending at the time of order? Then the attendee will need their photo ID, but not the credit card which could (as someone pointed out) change or expire prior to the show. Parents could be given the option of buying tickets for their kids as long as they accompany their kids to the venue and redeem the tickets. I mean, they should be doing this already. Who sends their 11 year old off to a concert by themselves, anyway?

I can't stand the free market arguments for the scalping of concert tickets. We are not talking about the buying and selling of TVs or guitars. These are events that take place one time only. If you can't attend, don't buy the ticket. I for one don't want to have to compete with scalpers IN ADDITION TO other concert goers when buying online. Resellers should stop trying to equate the buying and selling of items to the buying and selling of the ability to attend an event. Two very different things.


My 68 year old father bought my daughter (Hannah) tickets for the Miley Cyrus concert on Oct 31 here in Kentucky. My dad who is older purchased the on-line thinking that paperless just meant tickets sent to you via email. The problem here is that my dad lives in NJ, so now ticket master has told him the only way his 8yr grand daughter can go to the concert is if fly's to Kentucky and escorts her.

As as an option he asked if he transaction reversed and placed on my card it would be quite clear being that the card holders Last names match - Problem resolved, right!

Nope, Hannah is not going to see the concert and my dad is out the money for the tickets.

This is not a good system, the only thing good is the intent, not the paperless process.


The real problem is that real fans can't get good seats at face value. The real solution is a federal law making secondary market ticket brokers illegal.

beverly hatle

How come ticket brokers have most of the paperless tickets on their sites for ac/dc. no chance of getting a regular price ticket in a good seat no matter what


I agree completely. I was planning on surprising my parents (in another state) with concert tickets as a Christmas present. This is what Ticketmaster suggests I do:

"If you are not planning to attend the event, we would advise that paperless ticket(s) are purchased on the credit card of a person attending the event and that you reimburse them."

This completely defeats the purpose of surprising them! They are losing out on business!



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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