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I agree with Mike – ticket gouging has to stop

Wed, 01/13/2016 - 06:01 -- Angela Crich

Mike Bradley is employed as mayor of Sarnia. But he is also a human being, with interests and hobbies. One of those hobbies is attending concerts -- specifically Bruce Springsteen concerts. I, personally, do not have a problem with this. Chris Cooke does. I have seen how hard Bradley works for this city and believe me; taxpayers get their money’s worth. I don’t always agree with Bradley on all of the issues, but I have always believed that he loves this city and wants the best for it.

On this particular issue, about the price of concert tickets and the way they are sold, I totally agree with Bradley. I too, love a good concert, specifically a good Bruce Springsteen concert. But this isn’t just about Bruce; this is about any concert that is in demand. I read that Adele tickets sold out at Ticketmaster within minutes. Interesting to see them available shortly after on alternate sites at much jacked up prices.

While we have come a long way from standing in line waiting to buy tickets for our favorite artist or waiting on the telephone pressing redial numerous times, the use of a computer and the refresh button have meant that anyone (even those who aren’t fans) can buy tickets and then resell them at a jacked up price. It has become a whole new business in itself. For example, tickets to Bruce at the Air Canada Centre were priced on Ticketmaster at $68.50 to $175 Canadian (depending on the location of the seats). The same tickets were being sold on StubHub for $300 to $5,000 US.

And with most artists, like Bruce, these opportunities to see him live and in person are few and far between. So, people buy them. Because they want to be there. They want that rush that they feel when they get that connection between artist and the audience. Or that connection that comes from being in a stadium with 50,000 strangers all singing the same song. Bonding for just one moment in this crazy world.

Many people I know don’t understand why I go to concerts. Why I spend over $100 on a one-night event. I do it for the thrill. I love music. I’ve loved music since I was a baby. It’s part of my core. And being at a concert is a rush for me. It is a natural adrenalin high that can last me for at least a month. Chris Cooke doesn’t understand that. He admits he doesn’t attend concerts. So he doesn’t understand. And that’s okay with me. I don’t understand people who spend $100 on a purse. Or people that own second homes. One is enough headache for me. We all have different interests. That’s what makes the world a more fascinating place.

For those of you, like Chris, who do not attend concerts, I will try and explain the current price gouging for you. It’s a little like trying to get a seat on an airplane on a specific date. There are only so many seats available on that plane. What happens if you go to buy a seat and there are none left? Then you see on another site that the seat prices on that very day you wanted them are available, but at a much-inflated price. What would you do? The good thing with airplanes is there is always another flight on another day at another time. But let’s assume there would not be another flight for another five years. What would you do?

That’s the dilemma. Most musicians only tour every five years, making it a long time to wait for a die-hard fan, and Bruce is 66 years old. He is still in excellent shape and I hope he tours many more years, but the reality is that  the last couple of years have been hard on Bruce and his band. Beloved saxophonist Clarence Clemons died in 2011 and organ player Danny Federici died in 2008. These are not young people. They will not play music forever, so tickets are coveted.

I am not sure what can be done about the ticket gouging. My friend, Linda, faced the same thing when she tried to buy tickets for her fave Jason Aldean. She got tickets but saw later that they were jacked up on other sites. She suggested ticket buyers should have to register all of their email addresses so they cannot buy multiple sets of tickets. I’m not sure if this would work either.

Bradley’s idea for a cap on resale prices is a logical one. I also agree with his idea to ban sales on the secondary market before tickets are made available to the public. We should all have fair access.

If the current system is allowed to continue with no controls, it is going to become completely unaffordable for you and me to attend concerts. We simply will not be able to afford it. And that, for me, will be a very sad day.

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