Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton is arguably the most successful Broadway show of the century (deservedly so — the soundtrack is practically all I've listened to for the past month) but good luck if you want to get a ticket.
As Miranda writes in the New York Times, this is not simply a matter of supply and demand: rather, it's the consequence of ferocious sniper-bots that buy all the tickets to all the shows, everywhere, the instant they go on-sale, and resell them online at titanic markups that only the one percent can afford..
This is already illegal in New York State, but the fines are pittances compared to the profits. Manuel writes approvingly of proposed new laws that will add criminal penalties, and extend liability to the resellers themselves, so that sites like Stubhub will not be allowed to knowingly resell tickets that were bot-sniped.
In response, the full State Senate unanimously passed a bill making it illegal for ticket brokers to knowingly resell or offer to resell tickets purchased using bots and requiring ticket resale platforms like StubHub to post the price they paid for tickets on their platform so that consumers can easily see the markup price. Most important, since brokers don't seem dissuaded by fines, the bill creates criminal penalties, including imprisonment, for repeat offenders.
The New York Assembly is discussing these measures for a similar bill sponsored by Marcos Crespo, a Democratic assemblyman from the Bronx. The Assembly should pass the bill and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo can sign it into law.
I want the thousands of tickets for shows, concerts and sporting events that are now purchased by bots and resold at higher prices to go into the general market so that you have a chance to get them. I want theatergoers to be able to purchase tickets at face value at our box office and our website, rather than on a resale platform. And if you do go to a resale platform for tickets, I want the markup you must pay to be clearly displayed.
Stop the Bots From Killing Broadway
(Image: Robot Fight, Ariel Waldman, CC-BY-SA)