Hot acts, high prices

Soaring ticket prices continue to peak with online resale availability

Soaring ticket prices continue to peak with online resale availability

October 21, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

Parents of Hannah Montana fans: Don't give up on concert tickets yet.

When tickets went on sale Sept. 29 for Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Tour, parents of fans of Disney Channel star Cyrus got a jolt and a lesson in modern ticket economics.

Cyrus' concert at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., sold out in 12 minutes, spokeswoman Sheila Francis said. Original ticket prices were $26 to $66 for the January concert.

The teen pop star's concert at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore and venues across the country also sold out quickly with tickets popping up online with resale prices higher than $1,000.


As of Thursday, tickets could be bought for the Verizon concert through online ticket reseller StubHub for between $183 and $1,899.

Some higher-priced concert tickets are resold by consumers, while some are resold by ticket brokers who managed to get large quantities of tickets despite the ticket limits and security precautions of online ticket sellers such as Ticketmaster.

Prices of tickets resold online are expected to come down as concert dates near and resellers want to unload the tickets, according to StubHub spokesman Sean Pate. StubHub does not buy tickets from ticket sellers like Ticketmaster, instead providing an online "secondary" marketplace where people can resell tickets, he said.

Pate suggests people set a price that they are willing to pay for a ticket and keep checking to see if prices reach that level.

Other tips from the StubHub Web site are:

· Check ticket prices the week before the concert. Sometimes the best bargains are found then.

· Consider attending a show at a different venue or on a different date.

Music fans received good news last Monday when Ticketmaster got a court injunction against Pittsburgh-based RMG Technologies, which Ticketmaster has sued. Ticketmaster alleges RMG created automated devices that circumvent Ticketmaster's security systems, according to the court order.

"Nobody is allowed to use RMG's technology for this illegal purpose anymore, and anyone who is working with RMG or similar technology should know that it is illegal to access our system and deprive consumers of fair access to tickets. This is just our first step in this legal process, and we will continue to make sure that fans have the most fair and equitable access to tickets possible," Ticketmaster spokesman Joe Freeman said in an e-mail to The Herald-Mail.

Some concertgoers such as Dana Tuttle, 37, of Hagerstown, said it's not fair that some ticket brokers use technological devices to gain an advantage over individual concertgoers when it comes to buying tickets.

Even if you level the playing field and remove those devices, consumers still need to get used to the idea that, for hot acts, tickets will sell quickly and be resold at higher prices, Pate said.

This has been going on for years, but it gained national attention a few weeks ago when a large number of novice ticket buyers - parents of Hannah Montana fans - got shut out from buying tickets from their original source because they couldn't get tickets through Ticketmaster fast enough, Pate said.

Other acts also have sold out quickly with tickets being put up for resale at astronomical prices.

Bruce Springsteen's two November concerts at the Verizon Center sold out in 20 minutes, Verizon Center's Francis said. The original ticket prices were $68 and $98.

As of Thursday, tickets for Springsteen's Verizon Center concerts were for sale on for $112 to $1,195.

While some states have laws against scalping tickets or put limits on how much the price can be increased when reselling tickets, there are still online sites consumers can use to resell their tickets or buy tickets, according to Francis and officials with attorney general's offices in the Tri-State area.

Even when fans can buy tickets right after they go on sale for concerts or sporting events, they don't always find good seats. Some of those seats have been reserved for groups with special access - season-ticket holders, fan clubs, promotions for radio stations and for band members' family and friends, according to Pate, Francis and Brian Sullivan, executive director for The Maryland Theatre.

Some season ticket holders resell their tickets, occasionally below face value, Pate said.

When tickets went on sale in April for Taylor Hicks' July concert at the downtown Hagerstown theater, Sullivan had to hold back approximately 30 tickets for Hicks' fan club members. Those seats were scattered throughout the theater.

Not all of those tickets were purchased by club members; about 12 or more were rereleased for sale, Sullivan said.

Sullivan said ticket brokers haven't been able to access large quantities of tickets to The Maryland Theatre - though someone tried to buy 80 to Hicks' concert - because the theater handles ticket sales internally.

Even online ticket orders charged to a credit card are screened by Sullivan to make sure no one is trying to buy a large block of tickets, he said.

He will continue to open ticket sales for big acts - like Hicks, "American Idol" finalist Elliott Yamin and country singer Jo Dee Messina - at the box office (no online or phone sales at first) so local residents have a better chance of getting tickets, Sullivan said.

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