Hamilton Fans, BEWARE: Anti-Scalpers Bill Will Hurt Concert Goers
Scalpers are often “greedy,” and widely known for their “malicious” ways, at least that what we constantly hear. But when concert goers forget to buy tickets to their favorite band’s concert, the reliable scalper is their best friend. So what’s up with monopolies such as Live Nation Entertainment attempting to put an end to scalping “bots?”
As any major corporation would do, Live Nation spent no time attempting to develop a system that would keep said “bots,” or rather the scout bot software, from purchasing tickets en masse and reselling them online. Instead, the company decided to lobby the government for “help.” As a result, Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced the BOTS Act in order to offer “equitable consumer access to tickets.”
In order to pressure the Senate to pass the bill, legislators are even using personal testimonies from fans who lost the opportunity to purchase cheap tickets to “Hamilton.”
But according to technology policy fellow at the R Street Institute, Anne Hobson and senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University Christopher Koopman, the legislation does not pass the smell test. Simply because the bill would not benefit fans as it promises.
What senators may call a solution, experts call a “solution in search of a problem.”
According to Koopman and Hobson, the problem is not a problem at all. Take Live Nation, for instance. The company’s Ticketmaster service sold over 147 million tickets in 2012. Even if bots acquired about 100,000 tickets a year, which hasn’t been proven since there isn’t enough data to support this claim, “that would still be significantly less than 1 percent of all tickets sold,” experts contend.
The company vows that 60 percent of its most desirable tickets are purchased by bots, but choose to ignore the fact that the company loses tickets by not selling them to the public directly.
By using a system such as Ticketmaster, Live Nation opens itself up to this type of issue.
On top of this problem, proponents of the BOTS Act ignore that by barring scalpers from operating the way they do today would help to push the price of tickets up, not down. Thus hurting the consumer.
By limiting the public’s access to tickets with the use of Ticketmaster, companies like Live Nation also help the cost of concert tickets to be artificially high by preselling or putting the majority of tickets on hold for artists and managers.
With artists and managers reselling these tickets to the highest bidders, they are also competing with scalpers. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the industry is so concerned with this matter, willing to lobby Congress to act on it in such a dramatic fashion.
But if the goal is to create an “equitable consumer access to tickets,” government must step away from this fight.
But since my hint is that the goal is to just ensure the entertainment industry is protected from those “greedy” scalpers, I’m sure few in Congress will act with the consumer in mind.