Local Rhythms – Boycott Ticketmaster

ticketmasternoYou’ve been dying to see Bon Jovi since your big hair days, and he’s going on a summer tour.  No matter what it costs, you’re determined to be there.

With a posse of laptop-wielding friends, watches synched to the atomic clock, you count down the seconds to on-sale.

A few frantic mouse-clicks after the opening bell, it’s all over.  Nada, zilch, zero – every seat’s vanished in the blink of an eye.

Dejectedly, you click on the “TicketExchange” link proffered by the ever-helpful folks at Ticketmaster.  Fan-to-fan sales, it says.  Maybe someone luckier than you bought more than they needed.

Lo and behold, there are hundreds of good tickets, marked up three to four times face value, for the just sold-out show.

Guess who’s selling them?

A story in last Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal said that TicketExchange “only rarely list[s] tickets offered by fans.”   Most legal scalping, wrote Ethan Smith, “is done by the artists and their promoters with the cooperation of Ticketmaster.”

It’s the music business’s dirty little secret.

The seats, reports Smith, are “offered in small batches, each at a price, such as $1,164.01, that mimics prices set via online auctions.”

In other words, these rock stars pretend to be fans so they can screw real fans.

All’s fair in fair market value – I’m no communist.  However, selling a platinum seat, bundled with VIP parking and a backstage meet and greet is one thing – this kind of deception is just plain sleazy.

Along with Bon Jovi, Neil Diamond, Van Halen, Celine Dion and the Elton John/Billy Joel tour were called out for the practice.  All failed to reply to requests for comment – big surprise.  No doubt there are others.

Ticketmaster also removed the “tickets posted by fans” message from the TicketExchange site after the story broke.

This practice works because most people hate Ticketmaster, and reflexively blame them for ridiculous prices.  The real malefactors are perfectly happy to let the Evil Empire take the heat for their avarice.

Though they’re not as guilty as, say, a gray-bearded Eddie Van Halen, none of this would be possible without Ticketmaster.  For my part, I am boycotting all of their events until they divest from TicketExchange and TicketsNow (their other scalping site).

Since I live in the Upper Valley, it’s easier.  Higher Ground, Iron Horse and Meadowbrook each run their own ticketing; all have great shows ahead (I’ll miss Hampton Beach Casino, though).  Speaking of upcoming and untainted:

Thursday: Chuck Wicks, Claremont Opera House – I predict that a few years from now, fans lucky enough to attend this rising country music star’s Opera House performance will be bragging to those who weren’t.  Wicks is the whole package – charming, talented and possessed of a widely varied catalog of songs, from straight up rockers to heart-tugging ballads like “Stealing Cinderella,” his biggest hit so far. Don’t miss this (at press time, it’s close to sold out).

Friday: Nightingale, West Lebanon Congregational Church – Jeremiah McLane, who plays accordion in this wonderful traditional trio, is a regular habitué of Salt hill’s weekly Irish sessions. Nightingale know their way around a jig, and they can lead a fine contra dance too.  For a flavor of what they sound like, check out Yellow House Media.  Tonight’s performance benefits the fine work done at Upper Valley Music Center (see Sunday).

Saturday: You Decide, Three Choices – Oh, I can’t make up my mind!  Tonight, there’s a salsa dance party led by DJ Spin Doctor at Norwich’s Tracy Hall.  At the Hopkins Center’s Top of the Hop, Dr. Burma play the Mud Ball, delayed from Christmas.  Finally, Canoe Club presents Sensible Shoes in an after-hours dance party, likely featuring students from Barb Blaisdell’s Hanover High songwriting class.

Sunday: UV Music Center Faculty Concert, Damon Hall – The aforementioned UVMC holds a faculty rehearsal in Hartford, with performances from Peter Concilio, Norm Wolfe, Pierre Fornier, Jane Helms, Dave Wysocki, Judy Wild, Joanna Nelson, Jennifer Hansen, Bill Ghezzie and Margaret Gilmore and others.  This will be a wonderful showcase for a very eclectic musical resource.  Learn more at http://www.uvmusic.org.

Tuesday: Calico Winds, Colby-Sawyer College – Serious music can be seriously fun, particularly in the hands of this clever quintet.  They play wind chamber music with a twist, “many musical styles, incorporating a creative approach to standard literature with an exploration of trendy and nontraditional works,” according to their press release.  One critic praised their “mingling of European classical music with American roots music” – what an intriguing blend!

Wednesday: Billy Rosen, Canoe Club – One of my favorite “soft touch” guitarists goes solo in Hanover (he’s backing Emily Lanier at WRJ’s Tip Top Café Tuesday), playing selections from the Great American Songbook, and channeling greats like Wes Montgomery, George Benson and Kenny Burrell.  There’s always great music to accompany a tasty meal at CC – 363 days a year.

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