Now that artists are going the “fan club” route–giving those people who pony up $30 or $40 a year access to presales for their upcoming concert tours–a new secondary market has emerged in the ticketing world: The reselling of presale codes, which allow members to get into show’s online presales before the non-paying riff-raff. The Wall Street Journal looked at the ways that artists and their managers are trying to head off the latest assault on their revenue at the pass:
A site called UltimatePresales.com sells memberships to gain access to presale passwords for several artists, such as Bon Jovi, the Killers and Beyoncé. A one-day pass for access to codes costs $5.99; a one-year pass costs $349.99, according to the Web site.
This practice irks fan-club managers, who want to ensure that only fan-club members benefit from the codes. But there appears to be little they can do to stop the practice, short of expelling members they catch selling the passwords and revoking tickets bought using someone else’s code.
A variety of individuals — both novices and professionals — are behind the sale of these codes online, says Larry Peryer, president of UltraStar Entertainment LLC in Brooklyn, N.Y., which manages presale ticketing for artists such as the Rolling Stones, the Police and Sting. It may be a fan-club member trying to make extra money on the side. Or it may be a team of professionals employing an army of collaborators to join multiple fan clubs to gain access to several codes. These professionals may use the codes to buy prime tickets to resell, or may put the codes up for sale on sites such as eBay, Mr. Peryer says.
UltraStar checks its fan-club membership databases to look for red flags, such as people who join several of the fan clubs that it manages or use presale codes to purchase tickets for venues all across the country. Members caught selling their presale codes will be kicked out, Mr. Peryer says — and any tickets bought with a sold password may be revoked.
Fan clubs are starting to issue individual presale codes to their members, instead of blanket codes that were used by everyone, in order to pinpoint those users who are reselling their inroads into the (slightly) better seats; some artists are even going so far as to require members to pick up tickets at will call and show ID.
In a way, though, it’s like the sorta-silly idea of the “fan club”–in more cases than not, it’s just a glorified way of paying for the privilege of getting eternally spammed by the fan club brokerage, and I say this as someone who briefly worked with a company that handled such transactions–is just being taken to the next level of absurdity, with people going so far as to pony up $350 just so they can bypass fan club costs for a year. That’s like the equivalent of 8 or 10 memberships! Is anyone that big of a fan of that many bands that the $350 cost seems like a smart investment? At that point, it’s more economical to just go to an old-fashioned scalper. Maybe even one who advertises in the classifieds section just so the stench of modern technology can be wiped clean from the whole transaction.