Home' InDaily : June 11th 2010 Contents www.independentweekly.com.au news
June 11 - 17, 2010
The Independent Weekly
Ben is a ticket scalper.
He has a full-time job and a family
and recently eased away from the
trade, but it once provided his entire
The most important tool Ben has
for scalping is an internet connection.
A constant level of monitoring was
required so he could decide which
shows to pour money into and which
"My theory wasn't overly compli-
cated. You register with promoters like
Frontier Touring and Michael Coppel
and then you get the pre-sale informa-
tion and see how quickly the pre-sale
sells. If it sells out quick, you go on to
the public sell and buy up.
"Alternatively, you've got the time
differences. If the tickets go on sale
at 9am in Melbourne, that's 8.30am
here, so you watch how fast it sells
in Melbourne and then buy it when it
opens up in Adelaide and in WA, which
is behind again."
If a show had sold out unexpectedly,
Ben would also monitor websites to
quickly catch any post-sale releases.
He said the formula didn't always
"It does go both ways. You can make
big losses as well," he said.
"You sling $1000 onto buying 10
tickets and they announce a second
and third show and your tickets are
worth mud. Your $130 tickets get sold
The risk aspect of scalping is a
reflection of market forces.
In a way, Ben was using the same
skills as any stockbroker. While he
admits his motivation was money, he
doesn't feel he was hurting music fans.
"I think a lot of people are quite
happy for the service.
"They're happy to have the opportu-
nity once they missed out and, sure,
there's a price involved, but people are
glad to have the option there."
-- Farrin Foster
The other side of life
Three hundred thousand
hysterical people turned out
to walk the fence when The
Beatles played Centennial Hall
at the Adelaide showgrounds in
1964. In the weeks before the show,
ticket lines stretched for kilometres
around the block and fans cried
when the lady behind the counter
handed over a sacred slip of paper
More than 40 years later, the
music is different. The biggest
names coming to Adelaide -- from
U2 to Robbie Williams to Andre
Rieu -- now fill the 51,515-capacity
Fan hysteria, though, is the same.
It s just hidden. Desperate technol-
ogy nuts still form lines around
the block to be the first to touch
the smooth surface of an iPad, but
music fans line up in cyberspace.
At a designated time, virtual
tickets are released by promoters to
a waiting pack of buyers. Fans wait
anxiously with their hand hovering
above the mouse.
And so do scalpers.
Metallica is the latest super-band
to announce a tour of Australia.
Tickets to the World Magnetic tour
went on sale on May 13 at 9am.
Within minutes all the tickets had
Less than a month later, eBay
Australia is advertising 17 sets
of tickets for shows around the
country. Some are selling at price.
Many are being sold at up to three
times the face value. Undoubtedly,
as the November tour gets closer,
the genuine re-sales will be snapped
up and scalpers will be able to push
prices higher and higher as fans get
The Metallica example is the
latest in a line of sold-out, big-name
shows which have attracted
scalpers attention. Kings of Leon,
Beyonc , Pink, Vampire Weekend
and AC/DC are other shows where
fans missed out on the original
purchase because scalpers got in
It s this that has turned the
Federal Government s attention
The Commonwealth Consumer
Affairs Advisory Committee
(CCAAC) has just produced an
issues paper and wants public
comment before it decides whether
to introduce anti-scalping regula-
"Ticket scalping is an issue
frequently raised by consum-
ers," federal Consumer Affairs
Minister Craig Emerson told The
"Common complaints relate to
people being unable to buy tickets
to an event, or selling of false
tickets. The Government takes
these complaints seriously, and
as such has asked the CCAAC to
closely examine the impact of ticket
on-selling on consumers."
The committee lists positives
and negatives about the practice.
According to the authors, the
presence of scalpers in the market
means ticket buyers are more likely
to secure tickets, can access tickets
more conveniently and also transfer
them more easily.
For passionate music fan Rowan
Edwards, none of these supposed
benefits compensate for being
"When I was trying to get tickets
for Rage Against the Machine a few
years ago, I was on two computers
and the phone at the same time.
They sold out in minutes before I
could get a ticket," he said.
"I ended up buying a ticket from a
scalper for $500. I was always going
to pay whatever it cost but I wasn t
exactly happy about it.
"It s the most lazy, sleazy,
scum-bag form of business. The
artists are still making minimal
money because there are just dorks
at home with no talent skimming
off the top."
Rowan supports doing whatever
is necessary to stop scalpers getting
tickets before fans can.
Scalper Ben said his business
would be much harder to conduct
if the Government made scalping
"If they made it illegal then eBay
wouldn t allow it. You try selling
a gun on eBay, you get in trouble
pretty quickly. If they made it
illegal it would shut it down pretty
quickly," he said.
But legislating against crimes
which mainly occur on the internet
presents a unique set of enforce-
"The United States does that,"
said Adam McArthur, general
manager of ticketing agency
"A few US states have anti-
scalping laws which basically state
you can t sell tickets above face
"As long as you can catch the
people and enforce that law, that s
great, but people hide behind
usernames and different emails, so
tracing them is difficult."
Instead, some US states have
moved towards legitimising and
regulating scalping. Before the law
was changed, it was argued that
legalising ticket on-selling would
open the secondary market to more
sellers, and accordingly keep prices
lower for buyers.
Mr McArthur thinks making the
practice illegal would be ineffective.
Instead, he d like to see the industry
take control of protecting fans.
"It s great the Government is
getting involved but the industry
could stop this now with some
of the measures are available to
them," he said.
Some large festivals, such as
Splendour in the Grass, use a
ticketing system where the buyer
has to provide a name and date of
birth at the point of sale, and these
are checked against photo ID when
they go through the gates.
Ben said those methods made it
almost impossible for scalpers.
"There are certainly things
which people can put in place which
would tighten up retailing quite a
bit if they wanted to," he said. "But
I don t think they want to."
Mr McArthur also questions
whether everyone in the industry is
keen to get rid of scalpers.
"I think, to be honest, promoters
want to sell out shows and scalpers
do buy a lot of tickets. But if
they are sell out shows, those
tickets could be sold to genuine fans
anyway," he said.
Artists, promoters, ticket-sellers
and the Government don t suffer
because of scalpers. Fans like
Rowan Edwards do. But it s not the
fans that make the rules.
Merciless world of scalping
Music fan Rowan Edwards: scalping is "the most lazy, sleazy, scum-bag form of business".
Photo: Kate Elmes
Metallica are the latest band touring Australia to be targeted by scalpers.
Don t save for
a rainy day.
Save at Archer & Holland
Jewellers between 22 -- 30 June.
One of Adelaide's largest
Shop 26, City Cross,
Adelaide SA 5000
P: 8211 8068
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