When Pearl Jam launched their now infamous fight against Ticketmaster in 1994, trying to protect concertgoers from inflated service charges, they could have never imagined that those few extra dollars would now seem like small change in the era of online scalpers. It's a battle for which Eric Church recently took aggressive action, cancelling 25,000 bot-generated orders for his Holdin' My Own Tour. Now Sturgill Simpson, according to a Facebook post earlier this week, is joining the crusade for fair and accessible ticketing.
"We are working on an experimental ticketing system that will (HOPEFULLY) prevent scalpers/bots from ruining the live music experience for everyone," he wrote. "It infuriates me to see so many people who have supported us from day one being shut out from the opportunity to come to our show for a price I designate. I know exactly who I work for and my tickets will always be affordable and no amount of [awards] in the world will ever change that. In the meantime the only way to put a stop to this is for people to stop buying tickets from scalpers all together or to make so much noise it forces politicians/Ticketmaster to stop taking money from Stub-hub lobbyists that pay them fat stacks of coin to keep online scalping legal."
The secondary ticket market is an $8 billion annual business, often forcing shows to sell out in seconds only to see seats appear on online venders like StubHub for an exorbitant markup - sometimes at three, four or even ten times face value. Though the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (known as the "BOTS Act," because who says congress doesn't have a sense humor?) was passed in December with bipartisan support, it hasn't been enough to deter scalpers, who still reportedly make up over sixty percent of sales.
Church is using a program to combat automated ticket sales and make any purchased via bots or secondary markets available again to fans – Fielding Logan, who oversees touring for the Chief, told CBS News that success rates are high, and any orders mistakenly cancelled are immediately returned once the purchaser can prove they don't have sinister intentions. Though Simpson hasn't yet announced his plans or how he intends to combat the problem, he is taking steps towards a solution. "EVERYONE is fed up I assure you and we will be cancelling out bot purchased tickets and putting the reclaimed tickets back up for sale at normal price," he wrote on Facebook.
Simpson has been selling out shows since the success of his sophomore album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, and has only seen the demand rise since winning a Grammy for the follow-up, A Sailor's Guide to Earth and appearing on Saturday Night Live. Those wanting to grab seats at his upcoming tour discovered this quickly: want to see him in September at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado? Spots for that night went fast, but there are plenty available on StubHub for twice the price.
Making sure tickets stay at accessible prices for fans is something that has also recently concerned Brantley Gilbert, who recently announced $20 "Working Class" pavilion tickets for his upcoming shows.