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Are Scores of New Hip Tickets Surfacing Before Shows as the Secondary Market Collapses?

Something strange is happening across Canada.

In the days or hours just before one of The Tragically Hip’s stop on the Man Machine Poem tour, the same tour we’re all believing will be the band’s last, new tickets seem to be suddenly available. Via Ticketmaster, not a ticket exchange or reseller website. On sale for face value.

A quick test check for tickets at Wednesday night’s show in Calgary show tickets available starting at $56. Granted, these are behind the stage, so any fan who picked up a ticket or two would be staring at the back of the band’s heads (or hats, in Gord Downie’s case).

A scroll through the general listing for the tour still show most shows listed at NOT MANY LEFT — in all caps, so you know it’s serious–and a search for tickets to the Friday or Sunday shows in Toronto came up with nothing available, even for singe seats.

Remember back at the end of May when it felt like the whole entire tour sold out before any of us could log on to Ticketmaster? What in the heck is happening?!

A CTV report prior to the Vancouver shows last week indicated more tickets have gone on sale, causing the market to be flooded with seats and, as a result, the tickets looking for buyers are selling below face value–some for as low as $39.

“Ticket prices for the Vancouver shows on sites like StubHub and dramatically dropped,” CTV reported on July 23.

“The cost is hyper-inflated,” a fan told CTV. “You’re paying such a premium for people you want to go see and enjoy, but it’s like you’re planning a vacation, you’re spending that much money.”

Alan Gelfand of Fair Ticket Solutions suggests the drop in ticket price is due to people realizing the show’s coming up soon and wanting to get rid of extra seats in a hurry. “The scallpers and resellers gambled and they’re losing on this one.

Kingsley Bailey, a ticket broker, told CTV the problem isn’t the much-maligned bots that we all hate, but rather the lack of consumer knowledge on how the ticket-selling world works.

“The bots aren’t the issue. It’s legislation to give the consumer the opportunity to know exactly how many tickets are being sold on an onsale,” he said, adding that only about 40% of all available tickets are up for grabs when shows go on sale. “If the consumers were made aware of this, this type of situation wouldn’t happen.

So is it worth the risk to wait until the last minute to try and get tickets via a primary seller (like Ticketmaster) or a secondary seller, like a broker or ticket exchange website like StubHub? And what’s happening behind the scenes to make these tickets suddenly available hours before showtime?

Have you bought tickets for any of the Tragically Hip shows after they were sold out? If so, where, and did you pay full price? Chime in below. And keep watching this space for more behind-the-scenes info on the world of ticket resellers and brokers, who join in the hatred of the bots but take a much different approach to the world of concert-going than most fans.


In related Hip news, the band has the two top-selling albums of the week on the SoundScan sales charts. The greatest hits collection, Yer Favourites, moved 3,400 units last week (#2 in the country) followed by Man Machine Poem (#7). Three other albums–Fully Completely, Road Apples and Up to Here–have also seen sales spikes by as much as 89% since the tour started in Victoria on July 22.




Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

Amber Healy has 523 posts and counting. See all posts by Amber Healy

10 thoughts on “Are Scores of New Hip Tickets Surfacing Before Shows as the Secondary Market Collapses?

  • I’m in the camp of people who got a ticket the last minute before the second Vancouver concert. Second row behind the stage. Ticketmaster.

    I regularly search last minute for tickets and get some good deals occasionally to “sold out” shows.

    I’m highly suspicious of Ticketmaster and Stubhub.

  • I bought platinum tickets through Ticketmaster for Victoria during the first day of presale. I paid $325 for 7th row on the floor. The next day those same Platinum tickets for the seats around us doubled in price and they went up in price every day of sales. I thought $325 was crazy but those around me probably paid way more!
    Two days before the Victoria show it was announced on Facebook that more tickets had been released. I went on and bought two good tickets at face value of $126. The tickets were in the stands to the right of the stage and had an excellent view. I sold them to my lucky friend who couldn’t get tickets, for face value of course. 🙂

  • I picked up a last-minute ticket for last night’s Calgary show when TM released the 300 level seats which weren’t in the original onsale. $35. I’m also going Wednesday but I scored 6th row floor in the second fan club presale.

  • I’ve had goos success buying tickets off of Stubhub the day if an event for lower than face value

  • I picked up tickets the afternoon on the day of the presale in Winnipeg. I forgot about the presale (which sold out in minutes), but decided to try anyway. On my first attempts there was nothing available, but I decided to give it one last try through my app and boom; 2 tickets on the aisle of one of the first closed sections.

  • Hi Alan,

    Just my two cents, but I’d like to think the live broadcast on CBC disrupted the scalping market, just a tad. With the show being accessible to everyone, it gave fans the option to refuse to pay scalper prices, therefore those tickets aren’t holding the expected ‘value’. It pleases me to no end that fans are getting these last minute tickets at face value. I’m also very happy that the band is no longer pressured to add more shows to meet demands. Gord should have the freedom to make that decision based on his health. 🙂

    Thank you again Alan, for assisting me in getting this petition out there!

    From one music ‘obsessor’ to another,

    Kelly McAlpine

  • I got 2 tickets last minute (well 10hrs before the concert) for the Edmonton show. 78$ each in the 335 section. We stayed up there for a few songs than walked to lower viewing areas. They did have last minute seats for Edmonton on the floor (rows 29 and 48 were around 350$ for 2 tickets).

    I know ppl who overpaid for their tickets because they bought when they first went on sale (from online scalpers). Definitely tragic for them – I was pleased as punch it worked out so well for me though

  • I know for hockey games, the team is required to hold back tickets that the league or visiting team might wish to buy, and that those not used go on sale shortly before the game. I also know that the seats I usually sit in sometimes have a camera next to them, or sometimes there are seats where the camera would be.

    So is it possible that there is some type of contingency at play here as well? For tickets behind the stage, maybe they waited until the stage was setup to decide whether those seats were viable before selling them? Maybe they adjusted the stage setup for the sake of being able to sell more tickets.

  • For the Ottawa show on August 18, the local CTV news affiliate announced yesterday (Aug 3) that more tickets were being released at 1 pm that day. Not about to be burned again, I drove to the actual building box office this time…figured that if I was going to lose out again, I was going to lose out to actual people in a line-up, instead of bots & scalpers.

    So, with all this controversy and hoopla surrounding tickets and the demand for them, I was completely shocked when I arrived at the box office at 12:35 and there was literally NO ONE else in line. Funny thing is, the ticket agent had no idea they were about to start selling more hip tickets (which I found kind of odd). After confirming with her manager, 1 pm rolls around and boom – 2 tickets to the show. 6th row back in the 300 level, still great seats.

    I’ll only use the box office for big demand shows going forward.


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