Scalpers: Parasites of the entertainment industry

Austin Messick

Arts Festival goers rejoiced when our beloved three-day concert released its initial lineup and tickets went on sale.

This year’s lineup consisting of Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Kanye West, Animal Collective, the Black Keys, Mumford and Sons, the Chemical Brothers and many other incredible bands that sent festival-lovers racing to their computers to purchase both general admission and camping tickets.

Of course everyone attends Coachella to see the amazing bands that make up its lineup, but many festival veterans agree that camping at Coachella is what ensures a festival-goer the full Coachella experience. Unfortunately, many were denied that experience this year because of one pesky parasite that plagues music-lovers everywhere: scalpers.

On Jan. 19, thousands learned that scalpers had bought up all the $75 camping tickets that were available through http://www.ticketmaster.com and other promotion websites. After the $265 general admission sold out only eight days after the lineup was released, people really began to panic. In desperation, people began searching ebay and craigslist with the hope of finding reasonably- priced tickets online. They would soon find out that this would be nearly impossible.

Camping tickets are now being sold on ebay and craigslist for as much as $400, and a single general admission ticket can be found for $1000 and beyond. This will be my third Coachella in three years, and I must say that I too am outraged at the audacity of the scalpers.

Now I know we live in a capitalist, free-market economic system, but how could it be legal for scalpers to buy a ticket for $75, then sell it online for $400 the very next day? This kind of price inflation should be criminal. Though it is not, some states like Florida and Georgia have attempted to regulated ticket scalping.

Florida only allows ticket scalpers to resell a ticket for $1 higher than the original price and only allows scalpers to resell through registered websites that meet state guidelines. Georgia has implemented set standards for ticket brokers, and buffer zones around entertainment venues where reselling of tickets is prohibited. Although these laws have been implemented, it is hard to determine how effective they are at protecting ticket buyers.

Unfortunately for fans of live entertainment, our love for the live experience is our eventual monetary downfall. Jeff Swatsley, a senior accountant for Live Nation, said it perfectly “It’s a market-based economy, if people are willing to pay it, then [scalpers] are going to sell it.”

Scalpers see an opportunity to make anywhere from 200 percent or more on scalped tickets, with none of that profit going to the artists or venues to improve the experience for attendees. Swatsley said the worst part is that there is virtually nothing promoters can do to stop this kind of price inflation.

So how do we stop it? We have to choose not to pay their outrageous prices. Yes, that does mean missing out on a few great shows, but hear me out.

By not paying the scalpers’ astronomical prices, we can help to effectively put them out of business and bring ticket prices down to the levels they were originally intended to be. If promoters can’t (or won’t) help us, and neither will our government, we must help ourselves.

Scalpers are the money-sucking, greed infested ticks of the entertainment world, and the only way to exterminate them is to deny them of the life-energy that sustains their pathetic parasitic lives: our hard-earned money.

Hopeful attendees were outraged and took to the message boards to vent about being denied the possibility of enjoying a relaxing weekend under the Coachella Valley sun, sleeping only a short walk from the Coachella stages.

To me, scalpers denying those of us who can only afford to pay the original price of concert tickets, which are already high enough to make someone walk to school rather than pay to fill up the gas tank, a chance to see our favorite artists . If we have to sweat about buying a $75 ticket, there is almost no way we can justify buying a $400 ticket that we knew was once $75, but unfortunately some do.

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