I miss the days of standing in line to buy tickets to concerts and events. 

It was a much more straightforward way of doing things. Tickets went on sale at an announced time. You showed up and you stood in line and waited your turn. Limits were placed on how many tickets one person could purchase.

Sure, it could be inconvenient. 

Ticket sales could be geographically limited. I remember standing in line at the Crossville Kroger Ticketmaster counter one Saturday morning many moons ago. The couple in front of me had to drive from Knoxville because none of the Ticketmaster outlets there were selling tickets to the Jimmy Buffett concert at Starwood Amphitheater outside Nashville. 

While I never personally camped out for tickets, my sister once did so on my behalf (it was 1994, and the Eagles were on their Hell Freezes Over Tour). 

And heaven help the person who cut line. You risked a barrage of character assaults, which frankly, you deserved if you tried to swoop in at the last minute and get your tickets.

We thought the internet would help these problems. 

But I’m sitting at my desk right now, with the computer screen telling me to “sit tight, we’re securing your Verified Tickets.”

It’s 10:22 a.m., and they’ve been verifying for more than 20 minutes. I was online when tickets “officially” went on sale, which means, of course, my verified tickets are most likely resale tickets.

It’s gotten nearly impossible to get tickets on the front end of a show. And if it’s a popular ticket, the resale price can be astounding.

A few months ago I noticed an up-and-coming band I liked had a show set at the Ryman Auditorium. I didn’t look closely at the details and nearly had a heart attack with a ticket resale site asked $150 per ticket — for the “cheap seats”! That was about double the face value. 

The band was the opening act for the legendary John Prine. 

A couple of weeks ago, some of the biggest names in country music, and just music in general, gathered in Nashville to pay homage to Willie Nelson. If I thought those Prine tickets were expensive, the Nelson concert tickets prices were downright scary. Though I hear it was an amazing show to see.

I believe in capitalism. If someone can parlay their tickets into a return on their investment — why not? They can make a little money and folks locked out of a show they’re excited to see can make lasting memories. 

Sounds like a win-win.

I myself have made use of such services. I once took off to Indianapolis to a concert without a ticket. Of course, the non-sanctioned person with a stack of tickets was easily spotted. And because the show wasn’t a sell-out, I didn’t pay more than face value plus the cost of the fees I would have paid anyway. 

But that all implies there’s a fair shake at the beginning — that resellers weren’t given an advantage to getting those tickets to begin with.

Yes, I know that’s absurd. How could someone have a stack of tickets to a show that limited purchases to eight per person without some sort of shenanigans? 

But the shenanigans may be worse than we all originally thought.

Last fall, an investigation by the Toronto Star and Canadian Broadcast Corp. alleged Ticketmaster offered software to allow scalpers to buy dozens of tickets to popular events at one time. The company has denied this allegation, which was based on reporting by undercover journalists at a tradeshow last summer.

But Ticketmaster not only offers those direct, from-the-source tickets, they also offer a way to connect ticket sellers with ticket buyers. And they collect a fee for each transaction. A class-action suit has been filed alleging unfair business practices and unjust enrichment. 

Technology, of course, can’t stop people from trying to game the system. There will always be someone looking for a way around ticket limits, anti-bot laws or anti-scalping legislation. Our choices seem to remain — just how much do I want to see these folks live and in concert?

Sometimes you just have to walk away.

But some days, when all is right in the world and Jupiter aligns with Mars, the computer says “The Tickets Are Yours!” And you start planning that next great memory.

 

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.