String Cheese Incident Protests Tickemaster Fees
A jam rock band named “String Cheese Incident” (SCI) is not very happy with the way that Ticketmaster does business. So in protest they took about $20,000 and 50 fans and bought as many tickets as they could to their upcoming show at the world famous Greek Theater in Berkley, California. They then took those tickets, which were bought for $49.95 each, and turned around and sold them on their website for that exact amount. “We’re scalping our own tickets at no service charge,” Mike Luba, one of the group’s managers, explained in an interview last week. “It’s ridiculous.”
SCI has a history with Ticketmaster. In 2003 the band sued Ticketmaster, accusing the company of “abusing its market power by denying the group more than the 8 percent of tickets it customarily makes available to acts.” The two parties reached a settlement that let the band continue to handle tickets for five years, but the agreement expired in 2009. “I would argue that on some level they are our tickets,” Mr. Luba said. “If people in a free market find that Ticketmaster’s service is easier and more effective, by all means go for it. But we have found a group of people who are used to buying tickets directly from the band’s Web site.”
Normally the band band is able to make private deals with individual box offices for large ticket allotments to its shows, but was unable to make such a deal with the Greek. For those tickets, the band took advantage of a loophole that says the Greek waives surcharges on walk-up sales of its tickets. So if there are no surcharges then Ticketmaster doesn’t get anything. There is only one catch though. If you buy the tickets from the band’s website. There is a $12 charge for shipping. Even with the shipping, it is still cheaper than buying from Ticketmaster.
Check out a String Cheese Incident playing Austin City Limits here: