Whenever a popular show is in town, music promoters say, someone always takes advantage by selling tickets for more than face value.
That’s what’s happening with Monday’s sold-out performance by indie band Vampire Weekend at The Cellar Door.
The Visalia show is promoted by the local nonprofit Sound N Vision Foundation, whose goal is to bring top-notch musical groups to Visalia. Tickets are $20 — significantly less than they might have cost through a for-profit promoter.
But the tickets now are listed for as much as $150 each on Web sites such as Craigslist.org.
“There’s really no way to battle the scalpers,” said Aaron Gomes, president of Sound N Vision.
Well, in an economic sense, this is what happens when a promoter “leaves money on the table”. Someone else will sniff the opportunity to pick it up.
I understand the motivation to keep prices low, but at the same time, there is nothing other than habit that keeps prices based uniformly, either over time, or acoss other variables, or even across shows. Locally, nearby Orange Blossom in Exeter understands this pricing dilemma.
I once worked with a similar club in another city that wrestled with similar issues. In time, they realized, and accepted, that for some shows, they could charge more, and no one would object.
I remember it took quite a leap of faith personally for the club owner to invest in expensive acts and then announce the shows would cost double or even triple the going rate. He was takng a real risk that few tickets would be sold and he was very anxious for many weeks, right up until show time. Then he was a changed man when the crowds showed up anyway.
In the end, theplace was packed, it turned out most of the regulars were able and willing to afford a higher price point, and there were plenty of new folks who would also.
Plus, scalping was reduced because the gap between what the few people who might pay more and the original price was smaller, and there were fewer willing buyers at that price point, many having bought the original tickets for the first time.
I just attended my first show at the Cellar door last week, it is a very nice venue. Very nice! I was impressed, and I have been to a lot of similar places. Based on the marketing I have seen from them, I was expecting a dive-y place. Which would have been fine by me, but maybe pricing policies need to account for the value of the venue to the audience too.
I am not sure why the promoter is organized as a non-profit, it strikes me as a signal of under-capitalization. Not uncommon in that business, but still.
The truth is, Mr. Gomes, non-profit or not, you should take the money that is on the table when it is there, and then this won’t happen. You need to learn to judge the demand for the tickets and price accordingly. Experiment – hold some tickets back until day of show, vary prices across shows and times, whatever it takes.
Especially for big shows like this, where capacity is going to be reached, supply and demand come into play. Find the price point where supply and demand are close, and everyone will be happy.
And if the bands are so egalitarian that they want lower ticket prices and bigger crowds, and they can deliver the crowds, then maybe the Cellar Door is too small a venue for them anyway.
And by the way, I was eager to see the show last week, and when I stopped in a few days early to buy tickets while I was in Visalia, you told me I didn’t need them because the show wouldn’t sell out. Which it didn’t and so I didn’t, but my remark to my girlfriend immediately was “What is wrong wit that guy? I am trying to hand him money for tickets, and he doesn’t know if I will find something else to do day of show and not come back. Why wouldn’t he rather have the money now than risk two people not coming back?”
This was one of your higher priced shows, so it makes me wonder – how much money are you losing by not being able or willing to take it when someone is literally trying it give it to you? How many of those folks decide to not come back day of show?
My advice to you is take the money. Take the money take the money. Don;t be afraid to have creative deals with the band or the venue for shows, to share and raise the revenue for each.
E.g. at the show I went to the band was selling TShirts for 2x the ticket price. That is steep. But they sold some, and that probably helped reduce their cost to you.
But maybe if you take a risk,you all come out ahead. Maybe you offer a tier of prices that includes a t-shirt – but only for the original buyer. Band will be happy, you will be happy, viewers will be happy, scalpers, well, they will be frustrated.
Think outside the box, and you will be fine!