Tom Petty Strikes Against Scalpers

In a move that is sadly without precedent, Tom Petty and Ticketmaster have apparently screwed ticket scalpers. Fan club seats for their Minneapolis shows (co-headlined with Pearl Jam) that showed up on sites like StubHub, are now voided, and the dirtbags hoping to score a quick buck are SOL.

I've always wondered if Petty would put his money where his mouth is since making "The Last DJ" a few years back. In the song "Money Becomes King," he lamented the plight of music fans who had to hock all their belongings to afford nosebleed seats. When their tour that year featured seats north of 50 bucks, I wasn't inspired. But that's the reality of the business.

Pearl Jam famously broke ranks with Ticketmaster in the mid-90's in protest of "services charges" that added upwards of 25 percent to the cost of a ticket. So it's fitting that this tandem would be the first to strike a public blow against the verminous pond scum:

Petty's management and Ticketmaster have canceled some 460 seats for the June 26 and 27 concerts that were set aside for fan club members but have since shown up on Internet sites that resell tickets at a higher price. The tickets will be offered once again to fan club members under more strict guidelines that will require a photo ID to pick up the tickets on the night of the concert.

Like many major touring acts, Petty offers his audience a chance to purchase prime seats for his concerts before they go on sale to the general public. But fans took to the Internet, via Petty's message board, to complain that many of the St. Paul tickets supposedly meant for that very purpose were already available for purchase at inflated rates through online brokers.

"It was the fan outcry that brought it to our attention," said Catherine Swedberg, marketing director for Jam Productions, the local promoters of the concerts. "I think everybody gets frustrated when they see tickets online going for $300 or $400 each."

Numerous scalpers apparently had joined Petty's fan club solely to buy tickets and resell them at a higher price — a violation of the club's terms, as well as Minnesota state law.

Petty's management and Ticketmaster worked together to figure out which of the seats that had been set aside for fans were up for sale online. On Thursday night, about 460 tickets were canceled. Swedberg said it's the first time she's heard of such a move.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," Swedberg said.

It's also possible other artists will look to this move as a test for preventing their own fan-club seats from being resold.

Band manger Tony Dimitriades said in a web statement:

As promised, we have continued to investigate how our fan club tickets were acquired and distributed during last week’s presales, particularly in Minnesota. And with the help of the folks at Ticketmaster and Signatures, who at our request have scoured scalper and secondary ticket outlets, we have identified approximately 460 tickets for the June 26 and 27 concerts at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. that were allocated for Highway Companions Club members, but which were either resold or acquired by scalpers in clear violation of the fan club conditions of membership.

By now, you are probably also aware that we have responded to your ticketing concerns and desires by changing the way fan club tickets are delivered. Beginning with this week’s presales (ie. Those from May 2 onwards), Highway Companions Club members will be required to pick up their tickets from a special fan club will call window. Tickets will only be released to members who can show an ID and the credit card that matches their ticket purchase information.

We don’t claim to have completely eliminated all reselling activity on these or any other shows, but this is definitely a step in the right direction and a major strike on behalf of the good guys.

Bravo – it's long overdue.

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