When Louis C.K. announced that he was selling tickets to his shows for $45, cutting out ticket middlemen entirely, the response was fairly giddy. As of this writing, he sold $6,102,000 in tickets, not a bad haul. Of those 135,600 tickets, 500 are now floating around the scalping sites.
He did, however do a little experiment: he sold two shows traditionally, through Ticketmaster and the like, and 1,100 of those tickets out of 4,400 available are already on scalping sites like Stubhub.
He writes:Contact with these scalpers has been enlightening. They tend to respond with indignance and a defensive posture “Hey man! Scalping is NOT a crime!” We’re not treating it as a crime or even a wrong-doing. We are just competing with them, on behalf of my fans, to enforce the terms and conditions of our ticket sales and to keep the prices down. It’s worth the effort, it’s working and it’s even been kind of fun.
The interesting thing is that C.K. hasn’t yet described the methodology for “killing” scalped tickets but it seems to be some sort of fan-based mechanical Turking that grabs barcodes from scalped tickets online. While I suspect this is more difficult than it seems, I also suspect that the folks who would traditionally go to scalpers are erring on the side of caution, thereby disabling the scalping business model. It’s an amazing display of frictionless markets and, although it does reduce revenue on the seedier side of ticket sales, it certainly makes fans feel warm and fuzzy.
Incidentally, am I alone in not being happy with the first episode of the new series of Louie?