Louis CK direct-sells tickets to his next concert tour - no fees, no scalpers

Discuss

83 Responses to “Louis CK direct-sells tickets to his next concert tour - no fees, no scalpers”

  1. millie fink says:

    Cool! 

    I wonder how much he’ll pay whoever manages the site.

    Come to think of it, maybe he’ll do it himself, since he apparently hasn’t hired a copy editor.

    • That’s a little silly. He detailed when he launched his $5 video months ago how much he paid to the folks running the site, plus his transaction fees, and other costs. He’s hiring people to do the work, instead of using a firm like Ticketmaster, and thus his costs are related to the actual cost of work performed with a profit margin for those contracted to do it, instead of arbitrarily high monopoly/cartel-controlled fees that provide obscene profits.

      And, of course, it’s infinitely easier to take one kind of payment (outsourcing to PayPal to manage the rest for a higher fee than taking credit cards yourself) and sell tickets for a handful of venues and dates than it is to manage millions of tickets for thousands of venues. Ticketmaster et al. charge ridiculous add-on fees, but they also have overhead, of course.

      So I’d say Louis C.K. should be complimented in several ways: reducing the price, removing middlemen, trying to eliminate scalping, and simplifying the process. He’s making less money, he thinks, but because he controls the process, I suspect the risk involved is lower as he knows he can sell out all the shows directly at these prices. (Does he always sell out venues at 2x the price?)

      • millie fink says:

        Yes, it would be “silly.” Thanks for the insights into some of the ways that he’s likely to manage all of this, and what sorts of workers he’s likely to pay to carry it out. 

        Might be nice, though, to also hire a copy editor for the writing on his site. But then, maybe the bad spelling fits right in with his whole charmingly unvarnished persona.

        • aaronmhill says:

          The unpolished feel you get from it (the “benifit”, he might say) actually lends to the authenticity, IMHO. His mailing list really only sends out a handful of messages per year, and I read every one of them. They are entertaining, informative, and since they came from his desk, I enjoy that brief one-way connection. 

          Considering that most other e-mail I get (especially the torrential influx of politically-charged messages) feel so disingenuous, it’s nice to see some content coming in that’s legit. I’ll give him a pass on the spelling, as long as it’s not perversely intentional (“benifit” is ok; “u r” for “you are” is lame).

    • Emo Pinata says:

      Or you could just enjoy the cheaper tickets, and not worry so much about spelling until it obfuscates his meaning.

      • millie fink says:

        I’m not worried about it. And I do enjoy the cheaper tickets–just bought two of them. So, thanks to Cory for the heads-up!

  2. Daneel says:

    Anything that gets rid of the Ticketmaster scalping fee gets my vote.

    What really pisses me off is the ‘convenience fee’ some places charge if I want to print out my own tickets.

    • llamaspit says:

      Could not agree more. Being the middleman in ticket sales is a license to print money. At least they can calculate the price of the ticket, including the ridiculously named “convenience fee” and charge one price without the bogus added charges. 

    • BillStewart2012 says:

      Yup.  (Well, ok, I actually really dislike Louis CK’s comedy, but I like his attitude toward Ticketmaster.)

      Ticketmaster also insists on charging me a parking fee, even though I almost always bicycle to the nearby amphitheater, and take public transportation to the concert halls that are farther away.  Parking at large concerts is a pain, driving out is much slower than walking home, some fraction of the drivers are chemically altered, I’d also like to have that option (:-), and sometimes the nearest parking places are half as far from the stadium as home is.

      And that doesn’t even count the subscription to Rolling Stone you get for not noticing the checkbox you have to uncheck to not get it.

  3. Gary61 says:

    screw the leeches – go Louis!

  4. dmc10 says:

    ‘convenience fees’ — yeah, they are a convenient way for ticketing companies to screw you over even more.  Since corporations are now people, can we take Ticketmaster out back and shoot him/her?

  5. niro5 says:

    I have nothing to add, other than that I will be sitting close enough to see him sweat at the Kennedy center.

  6. somnambulist says:

    I wish him the best but this is going to be a lot bumpier then direct sales of his comedy video.

    The ticket brokers have a monopoly on venues, as he’s already discovering.

    But the bigger issue is going to be whatever he puts in place to stop scalping. It’s going to be a customer relations nightmare for him, with ticket resellers in every city pretending to be upset customers, as well as ticket resellers showing up on comment threads ragging him pretending to be fans. Then there will be the actual fans who will get annoyed by whatever failings (and there will be failings) that will take place in this system as he’s trying to create something brand new that many others have tried and failed at – creating a ticketing system that simultaneously foils scalpers and does not frustrate fans.

    • Joe F says:

      Yea but since he isn’t a company if there really is a super upset fan he can just say sorry man you can’t get in. They can complain about him all they want. He probably doesn’t care or want their money, he has devoted fans that will follow him and I imagine that is all he wants.

      • aaronmhill says:

        If the ticket says “THIS TICKET SHOULD HAVE COST YOU $45, PAID ON MY WEBSITE. IF YOU PAID MORE YOU MAY NOT GET IN.”

        Anyone wishing to get in should be showing a ticket with that warning on it, else they don’t get in. Anyone paying more than $45 for a ticket after seeing that warning is being an idiot.

        Also — he could record down names when people purchase tickets; when people show up, they show ID of some sort (I think his shows are 18+ anyways, right?) if the name on the ID doesn’t match the name on the ticket, you don’t get in.  (This would allow people to buy blocks of tickets for themselves and their friends/family, but discourage Scalping).

        Printing a similar warning for that on the tickets should suffice.

        With all the press he’s getting, though, I am doubtful there will be many people who haven’t heard about what he’s doing. More power to him!

    • Brian Cain says:

      Indeed, and then how long after that until the comedian realizes that he doesn’t want to be in the ticket sales biz?

      • signsofrain says:

        The “ticket sales biz” as you all understand it is obsolete. Selling and validating tickets to an event isn’t complicated logistically or technologically, and the huge bureaucratic structures that were built for that purpose in the age before computers and the internet are no longer relevant. Louis C.K recognizes this, and is giving fans what they want. Tickets sold in a simple way, at a reasonable price, with no ridiculous additional charges.   The ticket brokers may have a monopoly on the big venues but that just opens up space for more smaller venues in a given city to get in on the action. Not interested in a Louis C.K show Ticketmaster? That’s your loss, plenty of small venues will line up to get a piece of that pie.

        As for scalpers, why is this so complicated? Just print the name of the ticket holder on the ticket and require ID. Not sure what exactly Louis is gonna do but moving away from the ticket brokers seems to have a lot of benefits while the downsides of scalping are pretty much the same. Net positive.

        • Brian Cain says:

          Cool idea.  Maybe he can get Facebook to partner up with him for the ID and recognition issues.  That sounds like fun.

          And then how long after that until the comedian realizes that he doesn’t want to be in the anti-scalper and anti-privacy biz?

          • hadlockk says:

            Blizzard already tried going the Facebook route; many people loudly announced that they don’t want their facebook profile linked with anything online. Ticket sellers are particularly sleezy (even if CK isn’t) and that’s not an industry who needs to keep track of my information.

        • jandrese says:

          Yeah, it seems pretty straightforward to me.  The names are printed on each ticket and it has to match some form of ID you’re carrying.  People could still scalp the tickets if they really really wanted to by making up fake IDs, but that raises the bar high enough to discourage most scalpers I think.  It’s a bit more pain at the door, but ID checking isn’t hard, people do it all of the time.

        • Palomino says:

          Exactly, that’s why small venues have thrived since the Peal Jam suit in Seattle. I don’t know about comedians, but small venues are the bread and butter of many musicians. Some people even hold very successful events  in their homes. 

    • dragonfrog says:

      Indeed – beating scalpers is hard.

      I rather suspect the big resellers do actually try to beat them, and they fail - not because they love fans, but because a scalped ticket represents an extortionate markup foregone for the ‘legit’ resellers.

      • jandrese says:

        From what I understand, the only interest Ticketmaster has in stopping scalpers is that they represent competition to Ticketmaster’s own back door scalping services.  That’s how popular shows can be sold out literally seconds after the tickets are on sale.  No person using the actual website was able to navigate their slow as crap server anywhere near that fast, instead almost all of the tickets were handed off to scalpers well before they officially went on sale and the “sale date” was just a ruse to drive people to the higher markup sites. 

        Why just charge a 30% convenience fee when you can charge a 30% convienence fee on top of a 200% markup? 

        • dragonfrog says:

          As I understand it, the tickets aren’t actually sold – there’s a simple-ish to script web attack that abuses the business logic of the ticket sales function, and lets an attacker quickly tie up all the available tickets.  They can create an apparently ‘sold out’ show without having to risk their own money buying tickets they may not be able to sell.

          Basically the scalpers will have a script that navigates the website as though it’s going to buy the maximum number of tickets, then just hangs indefinitely at the last step, before actually paying.  Just before the session times out, it can go back and try to change seating sections or something, then go forward and hang at the payment stage again.

          A few hundred of these processes running in parallel can tie up all the tickets, as the web server thinks it’s waiting for legitimate buyers to find the credit card.  The scalper can buy tickets a few at a time, by closing out transactions only when they have the sales.

  7. any word on how he intends to actually enforce this?  how does he know which tickets to deactivate?

  8. nixiebunny says:

    As the folks who run Burning Man just found out the hard way, tickets are a big steaming pile of dog doo-doo. 

    The only way to ensure that scalpers don’t get involved is to sell vouchers that are redeemed as the audience walks in the door. Even then, it takes some cleverness to prevent trouble.

    But I do wish him the best of luck. These ticket parasites need to be shown the door.

    • Jim Saul says:

      Does that still pre-reserve seats? GA might not be a good way to go for a seating venue over a certain capacity.

      • nixiebunny says:

        Seat reservation is easy to deal with – the computer just needs to remember  the seat number with the name. The tricky part is making it so that the person who shows up at the door has to demonstrate that they bought the ticket in the first place.

  9. AirPillo says:

    I’m not really clear on how this will prevent scalping.

    Ticket brokers and scalpers can just as easily buy the tickets out and then inflate the price once they’re all gone. That’s how they operate.

    Direct selling works for DVDs because nobody knows how many the seller has in stock and they can always manufacture more. There’s no incentive to buyout the stock then inflate the price.

    Tickets have a maximum per venue. You can find out how many there will be and allocate funds and buyers to make sure nobody else can have any. Then you can multiply the price.

    The only way to fuck Ticketmaster or scalpers is to deny them the right to purchase, and that’s going to be hard. Scalpers aren’t easily identified as such if they use proxy buyers, Ticket brokers will be using similar scumbag tactics.

     I don’t think that after they’ve purchased through a proxy there is any way of identifying which tickets someone is reselling in order to cancel it. Once they have the tickets it’s theirs.

    • Tom Henthorn says:

       What if there were a cap placed on the number of tickets that could be purchased with a single credit card? That would be a somewhat reliable way to make sure a single person or organization wasn’t buying large quantities of tickets to resell.

      Obviously it wouldn’t completely stop scalpers, and it would be difficult to determine a reasonable cap that wouldn’t upset actual fans, but it’s an idea.

      • AirPillo says:

        Scalpers especially could just recruit people to go purchase tickets with their own name and resources then offer them a cut of the profits.

        It’s the same approach that methamphetamine manufacturers use to purchase pseudoephedrine from drug stores.

        To avoid all of the limits placed on individual purchases, they just pay a small cut of their profits to people who purchase the goods themselves.

    • bcsizemo says:

      Kind of like Dewi said below, just link the ticket to something that only the person buying the ticket has and you have more or less foiled the system.  (Credit card seems easiest, but drivers license/ID # or something would work as well.)

      But like pointed out above, you’ll still have people bitching and complaining who may or may not have actually had a problem with the system.

      • OtherMichael says:

         Granted that I use my credit-card and driver’s license all over the place, but I bristle at the idea of a system that REQUIRES it, and would forbid an cash-based, anonymous transaction.

        I can almost understand from a security perspective (eg, airline flight), but there are people who take umbrage at even that.

        • jandrese says:

          How the hell are you going to make a cash based anonymous transaction on a website? 

          • OtherMichael says:

            Earth to @boingboing-d169aba4714e8e2b31778bd1f1fa9cd3:disqus — not all commerce revolves around your precious internet. I’d buy it from an anonymous scalper, with my anonymous cash, anonymously outside the realm of electronic surveillance [with the exception of my fingerprints being read from 20 feet, and my insulin pump remotely hacked. whatevs].

            sheesh — when airlines demand ID, the BB crowd is up in arms, but when a comedian demands ID, we’re lining up to hand him our medical records and PGP-keys.

            OTOH, I can certainly see how one is funnier than the other.

          • Marc Mielke says:

            OtherMichael: I trust that Louis CK won’t steal my identity because his identity is so much more awesome. 

            Not so much your average TSA guy. 

  10. DewiMorgan says:

    Show up to the door with your ticket *and the card it was bought with*.

    Or even, skip the whole “ticket” thing, let people reserve N tickets for creditcard X. No need to print out retarded tickets at home, then.

    Goodbye, scalpers.

    • millie fink says:

      Sounds good, except for cards that get cancelled later. But then, I suppose you could still show the cancelled card . . . you’d just have to remember not to throw it away, and to save it for just this event.

  11. Alan Wexelblat says:

    I agree with ‘assorted’ above – I’m quite surprised he managed to line up enough venues.  Back in the day (when rocks were soft) venues that hosted TicketBastard shows would have to sign contracts to get those acts and the contracts said you can’t have non-TicketBastard shows. This has led to a de facto monopoly on performance spaces that even someone with Pearl Jam’s clout couldn’t break.  Louis has somewhat more flexibility in that a solo stand-up comedian can go to a lot of venues that a rock act can’t, but it’s still going to be one of the toughest nuts to crack.

    • Spieguh says:

       I was just going to say, I went to a Pearl Jam show in 1996 when they were trying to circumvent TicketMaster. Still have the ticket, it’s big and has cool artwork on it. They got shut out of major concert halls, so I got to see them in a small college basketball stadium in Toledo, Ohio.

  12. God I love this man. :)

  13. OtherMichael says:

    On one hand, this sounds awesomely empowering!

    On another hand, it sounds like somebody who is pissed off at the free market:
    “Screw you, free market! No invisible-hand changing the market-price for us! We’re in the Controlled Economy, Baby!”

    Doesn’t a limited supply that is out-paced by demand ALWAYS drive up the price?

    Wouldn’t a better strategy be to limit the purchase quantities?
    Then, of course, you have identity issues — is this a real person, or just a scalper-shell buying the ticket?

    If I spend two hours of my time [probably a wild-overestimate] buying a ticket, and then can’t use it, why can’t I be compensated [for my time, effort, and limited-forethought] by selling it to a stranger for a markup that the stranger is willing to pay?

    In this system, it seems that not only would I have no chance at recouping my non-purchase-price- loss, if caught I would be penalized the entire purchase price for my arrogance at having Life Get in the Way [okay, not so strong on all aspects of forethought] (and attempting to deal with it).

    The direct-market DVD was an excellent idea.
    I don’t think this idea is in the same category.

    That being said, it sounds like an experiment, and there is a lot to be learned from such a thing.

    UPDATE: I realized that I mis-read “refund” the price as “confiscate” somehow. That certainly changes a large part of the punitive nature I saw, but still eliminate any external markets outside of central control.

    • Jer_00 says:

       On another hand, it sounds like somebody who is pissed off at the free market:
      “Screw you, free market! No invisible-hand changing the market-price for us! We’re in the Controlled Economy, Baby!”

      In order to make this argument you must first show that the market for tickets for entertainment events is, in fact,  a free market.

      Show all of your work.  I’m especially interested in how you’re going to show that the current event ticketing market has the required low barriers to entry that a true free market requires.  Also that perfect competition can somehow exist for what is essentially a monopolistic good.

    • yochris says:

      This sounds like the free market at work.  He sees a flawed system and is creating his own to counter it.  Also, not sure why you would feel you need to be compensated for your time and energy spent getting a ticket you end up not being able to use.  That’s your choice to spend that time so I’d say that’s on you.  

      All Louis is trying to do is not have people get hosed and have to spend ludicrous amounts on tickets for his show.

    • Jim Saul says:

      Arbitrageurs are not the free market, and eliminating them from as many transactions as possible actually makes the market MORE free by breaking up monopolies.

      Otherwise everything is lost to parasites. Just because some liquidity is necessary doesn’t obligate us all to cheerfully drown.

      • OtherMichael says:

        It still seems to me that purpose is better served by limiting quantities purchased, instead of fixed-price.

        I could still buy up ALL of the tickets, and re-sell them at the approved-face-value, but include some other restriction outside the system (like subscribing to my magazine, or whatever).

        I’ve never really seen a problem with scalpers — yes, people are outraged at the prices they have to pay to a scalper. But… they pay, which indicates they find the transaction to be worthwhile, if still somewhat cognitively dissonant. The scalpers are rewarded for purchasing early. If you value the ticket enough, buy it earlier. It’s like bidding on ebay — bid-snipers care enough about the transaction to invest in software. Those who do not value the transaction enough do NOT invest in bid-snipe software. [I just lost an auction at literally the last second last week. I was sad, but not sad enough to invest the time or effort in fighting that fight]

        Also, in response to another comment — yes, the ticket-market is not a mythical intersection with four gas-stations. But the fact that people still buy the tickets tells me the system is not completely broken. And yes, there are alternatives to buying tickets — 1) not buying tickets 2) recorded media 3) community theater.

        • penguinchris says:

          There’s an important aspect to concerts and performances by well-known acts that you’re missing that scalpers ruin. The artists care about their fans and don’t want them to need to pay what the scalpers charge to see their show. The artists would rather charge a reasonable price so that anyone who’s a fan, regardless of how much money they have, has a fair chance at being able to see the show. A true free-market approach can’t work here.

          As it typically has been of late, the front rows at a lot of shows are filled with douchebag rich people who aren’t actually particularly big fans of the performers but are the only ones who could afford the tickets from the scalpers (who game the system in order to obtain the tickets in the first place – having software buy all the tickets for you within minutes of them going on sale isn’t simply “rewarding scalpers for purchasing early”, it’s unambiguously foul play). They like to go to the big-name shows for the same reason they buy luxury brand stuff – as a status thing, not because they actually care. Performers don’t want those people to make up the bulk of their audience – they want to make their actual fans happy.

          That shuts out most of the true fans. There will be a few diehards that will spend way more money than they can actually afford to see their favorite act (none of that money past the actual ticket price going to the actual performers) of course, but while the performers obviously want those people to be able to come to the show, they don’t want the concert to become a negative experience for those die-hard fans because they had to pay hundreds of dollars above face value for the ticket.

  14. Westfakia says:

    Bravo!!!

    As a field service engineer, DRM is usually the bane of my existence, but in this case I am hoping that Louis manages to homebrew a ticketing system that can effectively resist counterfeiting.

    Ticketmaster does very little to make events more accessible, and needs to get out of the way.

  15. schadenfreudisch says:

    $45 is “affordable?”   i guess for “certain kinds of people” it is.  quotes mine.

    • it is a hell of a lot more affordable than the $300/ticket my wife and I paid to scalpers to see him last time he came to seattle.

      • OtherMichael says:

         And yet you paid. So you thought the transaction was worthwhile?

        • millie fink says:

          schadenfreudisch probably did think it was worthwhile. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with Louis doing what he can to cut leeching scalpers out of the supply chain.

        • Bill Barth says:

          The market economy problem is that artists don’t price their tickets at the level the market will bear, probably because they want to seem accessible to a wide range of members of their audiences. As a result, some of their fans get upset when a middleman makes a windfall that doesn’t go to the artist. Artists could stop this in its tracks by charging higher prices in the first place, but they have non-monetary reasons for setting the prices they do.

          • millie fink says:

            I’m smelling something in some of these comments, so let me try to fully sniff it out. 

            Is there supposedly something wrong with an artist wanting to keep ticket prices at a level where more people who can’t afford the higher prices that the tickets often go for can instead afford them, and thus see the show? Is the point being made by some here a belief that products should always sell for as much as some people are willing to pay for them? Even if the benefit of higher prices for many of them often ends up going to people who have parasitically inserted themselves into the process merely to make money off of it, instead of going to the producer, or in this case, the artist?

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Is there supposedly something wrong with an artist wanting to keep ticket prices at a level where more people who can’t afford the higher prices that the tickets often go for can instead afford them, and thus see the show?

            Bolshevism?

          • OtherMichael says:

             @boingboing-2c4ab9b7954f1c0af3fab408b3290a86:disqus “Is there supposedly something wrong with an artist wanting to keep ticket prices at a level where more people who can’t afford the higher prices that the tickets often go for can instead afford them, and thus see the show?”

            Well, if you _want_ to do a charity concert for charity cases, by all means — indicate so up front.

            The whole point of market pricing is to allocate scarce resources to those who need them the most — in most cases, “need” being indicated by a willingness to do what it takes (investment of money, time, effort) to obtain a ticket.

            What you are proposing is that the artists sequester tickets for those with a LOWER need/willingness. Which is an interesting concept — those rapid fans who are willing to pay $300 to see the artists will be excluded from purchasing tickets, while those who only only willing to pay a much, much lower price are encouraged to buy.

            You end up with an audience that has less investment (emotional and otherwise) with the artist. I can’t see how that’s a recipe for a successful audience. Plus, dollars to donuts, there will be more empty seats — when you shell out $300 you’re not going to skip out. Cut the price by 80% and it’s a whole different opportunity cost. Especially when last-minutes scalpers aren’t reselling surrendered tickets.

            I can make $45 in one hour of freelance — so what’s the cost of skipping the show? one hour. But if I paid $300 for the ticket — that’s close to 7 hours of freelance. A whole day’s pay. I’m not going to skip out on that without a d–n good reason.

            The long and the short of it is, this sounds like awful economics, and a recipe for poorer-quality audience.

          • mccrum says:

            OtherMichael, $300 tickets also means you see 1/6th the number of shows.  I would much rather pay $45 six times to see artists I enjoy than $300 for a single show.  And even if I were to pay the $300, I would not have a greater rapport with the artist nor would they see the extra $255.  I would just be annoyed I spent an extra $255 to a shady guy who underpaid some other guy in order to overcharge me later.

          • Bill Barth says:

            millie: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with artists wanting to keep prices reasonable so that a wide range of fans can enjoy their work. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people to want their money to go, as much as possible, directly to the artist.

            The problem is that live shows are better when you can see the performer with your own eyes. That limits their size, which limits the number of seats. For internet or TV-famous artists, that means there are more fans that want to see a show than can possibly fit. If the price of the tickets is too low, then some people will be tempted to part with their tickets to people who want them more rather than see the show. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, either.

            Prices are, among other things, a signal. Only one person at a time can sit in those seats or stand in that part of the moshpit, and the last price for that last spot is a sign of who is most desperate to be there. Perhaps this is bad, perhaps not. We don’t have to go to as far as OtherMichael to see that these are realities of a free society with a fungible currency.

            Artists that want to be accessible will have to go through contortions to allow true (but poorer) fans to see them for reasonable rates. These contortions, these hurdles, will alienate some fans as well. They have to weigh the pricing with the other pains to find a balance that allows them to reach the people in the community they want to reach.

            I can think of lots of ways to do this: raise prices but give away some tickets on the web through a contest; require real names and IDs to be associated at the gate/door with every N tickets (for N smallish, maybe under 10); use a point-of-sale, non-removable wristband system (SXSW, ACLFest, etc., etc.); etc.; etc. 

            All of these techniques have an impact on an artist’s public perception. They will have to weigh those impacts in their choices. I applaud Louis C.K. for his approach, but I wouldn’t slam him for charging market-clearing rates either. I’d probably find it annoying to have to go somewhere to buy a wristband for a one-night show, though.

        • JProffitt71 says:

          Now wait a second. If we define the free market as unrestrained exchange between individuals, then Louis is simply negotiating the rights he is exchanging and is operating entirely within that framework. If the other party accepts the exchange, then they still value the tickets more than the money and the rights to resell them.

          Louis is setting the terms for his service, and we as customers are deciding whether or not the money saved is worth the extra hassle. As long as government doesn’t step in forcing certain rules on the exchange, the free market is thriving here and actually taking a turn for the better.

  16. Spot says:

    Great!

    I’m assuming that he’ll go the airline route: You order tickets and supply him with your name (easy, since you pay by credit card). You get a confirmation number and he gets your name (Bob Smith + 3, for example for a party of 4). If there’s no Bob Smith, they can’t get in. They just can get their money back.

    Ideally all members of a party must be named (like with airline tickets), but that’s not always convenient. Give however many names you want/can and make sure at least one person in that party will be at the show so your party can get in.

    Limits on # of tickets a person can buy will help too. 

    The only problem I see is the Amazon/eBay scalper problem: Buy something that is wanted, put it on eBay/Amazon at an insane markup and if it doesn’t sell, get a refund back at the store you bought it from. As in: Buy 4 tickets, go with your wife and whatever couple you managed to find on Craigslist to scalp two tickets to. Can’t find anyone to pay twice the price? You get your money back or you get in for free since the other couple effectively paid for your tickets. 

    So the restriction on how many people in your party can be unnamed will be adjusted depending on how much “abuse” there is on the policy. Scanning the local Craigslist near a venue should be a decent indication to figure out if the policy should change on the next tour or not.

    It’s not hard. Just inconvenient for the people who want to see him. Still, it’s probably more convenient than using Ticket Master, paying a membership fee at the venue , a convenience fee and whatever other silly charges they can drum up.

    I miss the days of going to a venue or local record store and buying a $5 ticket to a show, while if you bought the ticket at the door on the day of the show you’d pay $7.50. Paying in advance is convenient for the ticket seller, not for the customer. Prices used to reflect that. Then Ticket Master came along…

    • filebunch says:

      I have said this all along–name on ticket like the airlines.  I was told it illegal to do this in New York by an attorney friend.  If so TicketMaster has friends in high places.

    • GlyphGryph says:

      “Ideally all members of a party must be named (like with airline tickets), but that’s not always convenient.”
      How the bloody hell is this ideal? The moment that happens is the moment everyone I know stops running groups to concerts. It’s fine if the organiser has to be there with the group, but when you’re depending on EVERYONE in the group never ever having any last minute plan changes (and not being able to take anyone else in their place since named tickets are nontransferable), then you end up fucked over and bad, even if you’ve got people in the wings more than willing to take the spot.

      If that’s “ideal”, I hope to hell we manage to avoid the ideal situation. Copying the airline industry is NOT a good thing.

  17. Dutch says:

    My problem with ticket prices is that everyone loses. It should be a dutch auction, you put in a bid and at the end of bidding we resolve who gets what tickets. If you wanted to pay $30 for a ticket, you’d better hope there weren’t 100s more people willing to pay $45. At the same time, you can put in some low ball bids to see if you can score some cheap seats.

    For the artist it means they are more likely to get paid fairly and compensated for a potentially scarce resource.

    So Louis, consider a dutch auction.

    • Ambiguity says:

      If I understand the Dutch auction correctly (actually, it would be a second-item auction) this wouldn’t help with the scalping problem.

      Let’s say there is a show in some venue, and, based upon experience, the scalper thinks the show will be sold out and that he or she could easily sell 30 tickets for $150.00. He or she would just put in a bit for 30 @ 100 and make $50 per. This could actually make the scalper’s job easier, as the average person may only want to pay $50 to begin with, so the scalper gets priority for the tickets.

      It’s possible that those 30 folks would just bid the $150.00 to begin with, but human nature being what it is….

      • OtherMichael says:

        Crap, once again — tickets would be sold to people who place a higher value on them.

        The horror, the horror….

        • asterios9 says:

          If there is some way to see how the auction is progressing you can just go in and outbid the scalpers, and the proceeds of your ticket go to the artist and not some jerk.  I think in this day and age people know what tickets are going to going to be in high demand.

          Auctions seem ideal for tickets that are either in very high demand or very low demand.   Most of us classical music fans are familiar with the experience of settling for nosebleed seats to something obscure and gazing down at an ocean of unclaimed expensive seats.  Auctions would be great there, too.

          • OtherMichael says:

             I do like the auction idea better — but it’s still not perfect, as the market for bid-sniping software will attest.

            As in almost all transaction, it revolves around who is willing to pay the most — not just an investment of money, but of time and effort.

  18. Wife and I scored 2 tickets in seattle for $45 each. I hope this catches on, I would go to far more live shows if middlemen were cut out and I could pay face value for tickets.

  19. Steve Olsen says:

    “””Also, you’ll see that if you try to sell the ticket anywhere for anything above the original price, we have the right to cancel your ticket (and refund your money). this is something I intend to enforce. There are some other rules you may find annoying but they are meant to prevent someone who has no intention of seeing the show from buying the ticket and just flipping it for twice the price from a thousand miles away.
    Some of these rules may be a pain in your ass, but please be patient. My goal here is that people coming to see my shows are able to pay a fair price and that they be paying just for a ticket. Not also paying an exorbitant fee for the privilege of buying a ticket.”””

    It sounds like the real difference is that he intends to enforce it and unapologetically and fairly, refund any ticket that was potentially scalped.

  20. Cowicide says:

    He says he’ll make less than he would if he went with an expensive ticketing service, but he wants to make his shows affordable.

    I bet he’s ending up with more money in the end by doing it this way because of externalities like Boing Boing covering this and people “debating” about it, etc. and drawing more attention to him and his shows.

    I hope he’s as smart as he seems and keeps it up.

    • RedShirt77 says:

       How much were his tickets under the old system?  I can’t imagine he cut the price more than $20.  Last comedy show I saw was Jon Stewart and I think that was less than $60.  Lewis black was similar.

  21. Well FU Louie-you have family ties to “Old” Mexico yet you are not even coming to “New” Mexico so who cares if the bastards at Ticketraper are involved or not.  You know, all you have to do is buy a plane ticket and come to the Burque (which nobody does-wait, good ol “man behaving badly” Rob Schneider is coming soon!).  It’s not like you are touring with a drummer and a bassist and roadies (well, I guess you do require having a plain t-shirt roadie-de riguer!) and have to plan and plan and plan.  Regardless, we (my Colombian wife adores your act but thinks you are physically hideous)  still love “lucky” Louie even though sad old Nuevo Mexico will not be so lucky.

  22. Aloisius says:

    It should be noted that Ticketmaster’s “convenience” fees are actually used as kickbacks to venue operators, bookers and promoters. It is effectively a way to raise the price of a ticket and have Ticketmaster take all the blame for the high fees which is why it is so difficult to displace them – the venues, promoters and booking agents rely on that money. In return, the promoters/venues sign exclusive contracts with Ticketmaster making it impossible to book without them.

    I wish him luck, but frankly, it has been tried before most notably by Pearl Jam and at the end of the day, didn’t work.

  23. Louie C.K. is a stand up stand-up.

  24. . says:

    I can’t think of anyone I’d pay $45 to see live. I’d still consider that price to be a bad value. $25 maybe, and it would have to be someone well known.

  25. CognitiveDissident says:

    Hopefully, in a few years, it will be:
    Ticketmaster.
    Buh-bye.

  26. spiffw says:

    I’m not a fan (I’m not not a fan…), but I like where this is going.  I just paid TicketMaster ~40% above face value to go see Roger Waters.  That is exactly why I don’t normally go to live shows.  TM is run by the devil incarnate.

  27. If we had a government with the business ethics of Louis CK we’d be living in a utopia. 

  28. Anton Gully says:

    Identify the IP addresses of the major scalping firms.

    ONLY sell tickets to those IP addresses.

    Have the people who bought the scalped tickets turn up for a concert with Louis reading a copy of  The Great Gatsby a lá Andy Kaufman.

    Best way to discourage scalping is punish the people who buy the tickets.

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