Comedian Louis C.K. has always been a fan-friendly artist who has become extremely successful and rich while not trying to gouge his supporters for every last dime. He’s about to embark on a lengthy tour in which all tickets cost $45 inclusive of fees and service charges and are only available through his website. Now that he’s a huge concert draw he’s run into a problem that affects many live acts of his stature – the secondary ticketing market. Unlike most of those acts Louie has found a way to fight back.
In an interview with Terry Gross that aired on yesterday’s episode of NPR’s Fresh Air, the comedian explained the enjoyment he gets out of successfully screwing with scalpers…
GROSS: Yeah. How does scalping work nowadays?
C.K.: I don’t know everything about it, but here’s what I know. There’s people who have a setup. They have, like – you know, some ticket companies say you can only buy a certain amount of tickets. So they have, like, you know, a thousand credit cards and they have either highly manned or automated systems where they’re sitting there with their credit cards ready because they know the tickets are going on sale at 10 AM…
GROSS: I see.
C.K.: …exactly whatever it is. August 4th, 10 AM, tickets to this show are going on sale. The guy’s sitting there with, like, 50 people on phones, and they immediately start buying…
GROSS: I see.
C.K.: …or on the Internet. And then they have those tickets. That’s their currency. And they sit there – it’s like a commodity. They mark it up and up and up as the show gets closer. And all we did was not tell anybody when it was going on sale. We also – we hired two people who used to be scalpers…
C.K.: …who figured out credit card patterns, and whenever we find a ticket that was bought by a scalper, we contact them and we tell them this ticket has been moved to Will Call, which means you have to show up in person as the ticket buyer with the credit card to pick up the ticket. You can’t print it at home. And so that ruins that person’s ability to sell it.
So every time we’ve done that, the scalper starts yelling and cursing at us, and they say scalping’s not illegal, man. And we go, well, I know. We’re just beating you because it’s fun and we like to get our – that ticket now gets to go to a fan for $45. You know, we just saved somebody $200. So it’s fun. I like doing this.
And also, when I first announced the tour in the press, I told people you shouldn’t buy scalper tickets, because they may be deactivated by the time you get to the show because we have the power to do that. And that really hurt the scalper market a lot, just the perception that our tickets are not – may not be good.
GROSS: All right. Louis C.K. fights back.
Amazing! Did we mention we love Louis C.K.? Read or listen to the entire interview to hear Louie discuss how he prices tickets for his concerts, the scourge that are ticketing fees and much more.