When you are a jet
You’re a jet all the way
From your first cigarette
Until your last day of death
Jet Song – Leonard Bernstein
On Thursday, June 10, 2021, the SeatGeek ticket resale market changed its future for a momentary flirtation with Bruce Springsteen. In Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, loyalty is the central element of the story. When you belong somewhere, you take care of your tribe and remember where you came from. Break that trust and the consequences will come fast and hard.
SeatGeek is a New York-based ticketing company that for years has been a secondary market matching buyers with ticket sellers. Most recently, SeatGeek gave away substantial capital while attempting to enter the world of primary ticketing. Currently, the company acts as the top ticket seller for the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Cavaliers, New Orleans Saints, and half a dozen minor teams in the US, in addition to half a dozen soccer clubs in Europe.
In any ticketing company, there is a dynamic tension that exists between the desire of fans to buy tickets at face value and the ability of ticket sellers to buy those tickets for future resale. Ticket sales is a brute force effort, where tens of thousands or more tickets go on sale all at once and there is a struggle to see who can buy them. Usually, the public has no idea that the event went on sale until long after it was sold out, or have no plans at the time of sale to be in the city where the event will take place. It’s only later that fans find out something is happening where they are, but tickets were sold out months before. Ticket sellers buy and hold those tickets giving liquidity to a market that would otherwise reward the diligent and freeze those who have other things to do rather than wait in online ticketing queues like raising children or going to their works.
The demand for discretionary tickets to events is unpredictable. Springsteen fans tend to be older, potentially making them more conservative about Covid-19 than younger fans. They also tend to have more money, allowing them the luxury of buying tickets that cost close to $ 1,000 each when all the fees are added. What stimulates sales is when everyone wants to be sure that they are not the ones left out. The more difficult it is to acquire the ticket, the more status is conferred on the attendees.
Last week, SeatGeek sold approximately 51,000 seats when Bruce Springsteen returned his solo acoustic show to Broadway. This is a show for rich people. Springsteen tickets were mostly priced between $ 500 and $ 850 plus service fees, and some tickets on the outer edges were priced at $ 75.
The race is thirty nights starting June 26.th to September 4th. Before the pandemic, Springsteen on Broadway was consistently one of the highest-grossing Broadway shows, performing before about 975 people a night at the Walter Kerr Theater. The 2021 show series moved to the St. James Theater, which seats 1,710. That’s almost double the seats for each show, but the prices stayed the same. The show should raise between $ 1 million and $ 1.25 million a night plus merchandise and bar sales.
SeatGeek has said that the Jujamycn Theaters decided whether ticket sellers could buy tickets, performing with or under the direction of the Springsteen team. SeatGeek posted rules on its website for buyers, specifying that a single person could only buy two tickets for the entire show, and to make the purchase, the account name, credit card and billing address had to match. .
Here’s what happened: The resellers complied with the rules and made thousands of attempts to buy a couple of tickets. Almost every time they bought tickets an email would come in saying “We couldn’t confirm your order because the tickets you selected are no longer available. I’m sorry about that! We will refund your original payment method. “Here’s an email from that sale:
Now that email is probably not entirely true. The purchase generated an order number, the credit card was charged, and there is clearly a record of the purchase as shown in the email. SeatGeek is more likely to have simply decided or allowed Jujamycn Theaters to decide who could buy tickets and who would be rejected.
The funny thing is that SeatGeek is a secondary market. They really need a supply of tickets to function. Otherwise, they are simply a small primary market. Once they grow a lot more in the main space, competitors’ long knives will pop out every time SeatGeek tries to get another customer.
And, as a secondary market that has agreed to turn ticket sellers out of purchasing primary inventory, SeatGeek has facilitated the large primary markets argument that resale should not exist in its current form. After all, there is a large secondary market here that cancels tickets purchased by ticket sellers for inclusion in resale markets. It’s only one step from there until all the primary markets try the same, at which point SeatGeek is too small to survive as a primary market and they instigated the damage that could be inflicted on the entire secondary market. Being a secondary ticket market, preventing your vendors from buying tickets, is like building pitchforks and then acting surprised when they hang up on you.
I contacted SeatGeek for comment and received the following:
“SeatGeek strives to create a better ticketing experience for all parts of the live event ecosystem. Last week Springsteen on Broadway on sale was no exception. We hosted a successful sale that respected Jujamcyn’s wish to put tickets in the hands of real fans capped at two tickets per person, which coincided with the exceptionally high demand we saw for this first full-capacity Broadway event since the pandemic began in March 2020. We are excited to help give welcoming Springsteen fans to the St. James Theater for the first show on June 26, 2021 as part of this incredibly unique concert experience. “
The truth is, SeatGeek just outright denigrated the marketers who helped them grow big enough to play these bigger stages. They also hinted that their own customers who buy resale tickets are not true fans. In fact, all people who buy tickets for the purpose of attending shows are true fans. The only reason secondary markets exist is to meet the demand of those fans who did not know when the shows were going on sale or did not know that they would be somewhere an event was taking place until after the shows. tickets had already been sold. Resale equals access.
What few people understand is that resale markets do not own the tickets they offer for sale. They are just a platform that combines sellers and buyers. If buyers withdraw their inventory, the resale market cannot function and the entire business is paralyzed.
Since most of SeatGeek’s revenue still comes from ticket reselling, irritating providers is dangerous. All it would take to really wake up SeatGeek would be a decision I heard discussed among their reseller partners to enter the term. “-SeatGeek” in their point of sale systems and SeatGeek would be instantly irrelevant as a resale market. That simple “-SeatGeek” the entry would remove inventory from SeatGeek’s reselling platform and their revenue would immediately plummet.
Ticket sellers can acknowledge The Boss’s return to Broadway in the same way that SeatGeek did, blocking access to inventory for sale. What I hear discussed is SeatGeek’s listing blocking from today until September 4th When Springsteen on Broadway ends Ticket sellers would still have plenty of capacity to sell as their inventory would move on Vivid Seats, Ticketmaster, Ticket Network, StubHub, TickPick, Ticket Evolution, or any of the other two dozen competing resale markets that those who appreciate. they take risks. with his own money to supply tickets to the markets. In the meantime, they might have some time to think about whether it is good business practice to undermine their relationship with those who provide the inventory that exists to sell.
When your income comes from the venture capital of others, it is always strategic to protect the relationship. When you don’t, the consequences can be dire for the financial health of your business.
One more thing: as of this writing, tickets are still available on SeatGeek at face value for each of Springsteen’s thirty shows. By rejecting purchases from ticket sellers, SeatGeek did not sell any of Springsteen’s shows. When the shows don’t sell out, their prices go down. What should have been a triumph for Bruce Springsteen is instead the first major failure to sell a show by a renowned artist in the post-pandemic recovery.
Had ticket sellers purchased the tickets that have now not been sold, fans would have had the opportunity to purchase tickets below face value because prices for this event exceeded demand. Instead of Springsteen selling out and ticket price discounts reaching fans at the expense of the resellers who got caught, we’ve smashed the mystique that Springsteen can sell endless shows at outrageous prices and take away from fans. the opportunity to save some money. It’s like we dated Thunder road early and entered the We stopped. All that’s left to do is something Growing.