As long as there have been live concerts, there has been the hassle of obtaining tickets. For many fans that means dealing with big, bad Ticketmaster and their hefty fees. In an age where scalpers, often by use of bots, scoop up the primo seat locations, which drives the market price up through the stratosphere, artists have often thought creatively to try and circumvent the system. One prevalent story of this upcoming concert season has been about the String Cheese Incident and their “No-Fee” ticketing program, which in theory allows fans to obtain tickets to the Colorado jam titan’s shows at exactly the face value of the ticket, and cuts out ticketing vendors such as Ticketmaster in the process. While the theory may seem to work, and be an applaudable idea, there is always more than meets the eye.
A recent New York Times article detailed the unorthodox steps SCI was going through to try and cut service fees for their summer shows. This included drastic measures like having groups of fans that they organized buy tickets directly at venue box offices ($20,000 in cash at the Greek Theatre in L.A. for instance), and then having the band re-sell these tickets back to their fans, at exactly the face value – with no service fees. In fact, SCI actually lost a little money on this venture, as bassist Keith Moseley told American Public Media’s Marketplace. But, it’s the principle that he, and the rest of the band, stand behind.
While saving fans service fees seems like a great idea on the surface, and something fans can rally behind, the amount of work it took to make this happen was simply absurd. As one of the most on-point music insiders and bloggers, Bob Lefsetz replied, there is more to the story than what the casual fan may know, or the NYT’s article suggested.