Right on cue, Vancouver Taylor Swift fans are complaining about the price of tickets to her shows. Let’s go through things again.

Tickets for Taylor Swift’s Vancouver show went on sale earlier this month and people are disappointed that they couldn’t get any. Now they’re blaming Ticketmaster.


Let me explain things one more time: MILLIONS of ticket requests, only perhaps 50,000 tickets available for each show at BC Place. And it wasn’t just people in the Vancouver area trying to buy tickets. Requests came in by the millions from all over the world. Ergo, most wannabe buyers are going to be disappointed.

And yes, there are going to be speculators who use the Ticketmaster platform to resell tickets for inflated prices.

This situation offers low-hanging fruit for stories about people who want to bitch about concert ticket prices. Let’s go through everything again.

  • If you hold a season ticket for a sports team in a venue, you have to pay a seat license. That license often entitles you to first dibs on tickets to whatever events are booked in that venue. Seat licensees simply take advantage of their spot at the head of the line, buy tickets, and then resell them either through Ticketmaster or through a secondary seller like StubHub.
  • Holders of certain credit cards–AMEX, for example–get early access for ticket purchases. They buy the tickets and flip them.
  • Members of the fan club (serious ones and those who join just to get early access to tickets) also flip tickets.
  • Even though Ticketmaster spends millions and millions of dollars each year on battling ticket-buying bots, it’s a game of Whack-a-Mole.
  • Ticketmaster does its best to get tickets in the hands of fans, but speculators will always find ways around the safeguards. It’s an evolving situation.

What about the stupidly high prices?

  • There’s a difference between tickets sold through Ticketmasters resale site and a non-affiliated ticket reseller. If the seller gets a premium over the face value of the ticket, some of that money ends up going back to the artist. The premium received by a ticket sold on, say, StubHub, goes to…StubHub and not the artist. That doesn’t seem right, does it?
  • Yes, Ticketmaster double-dips with services fees when a ticket gets resold. That annoys people.
  • Resale prices are variable and rise and fall with demand. If there’s someone who is dumb enough to drop $17,000 on a concert ticket, then there’s little anyone can do. However, it’s possible that speculators will find themselves with unsold tickets. Prices will fall.

Yes, it’s a shame that fans can’t see Tay-Tay for a reasonable price. But just like everything else in a capitalist society, prices operate on supply and demand. With Taylor, demand will always outstrip supply.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37401 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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