Yusuf Islam, the singer-songwriter formerly known as Cat Stevens, joined Pearl Jam, Tom Waits and Metallica in trying to subvert the multibillion-dollar ticket-scalping business Tuesday, abruptly canceling his first New York City show in 35 years due to "extortionate tickets prices already being listed on some websites," as he wrote on his official site.
"I have been a longtime supporter of paperless tickets to my shows worldwide and avoiding scalpers," Islam wrote in his note, announcing a new December 4th show at Tower Theatre in Philadelphia instead. (The original New York date, December 7th at the Beacon Theatre, will now take place at Boston’s Citi Performing Arts Center.)
Many artists in recent years have switched to paperless ticketing, forcing fans to show identification at the box office; this process is generally reliable in staving off scalpers, brokers and subverting the resale marketplace. However, New York passed a state law in 2010 requiring tickets to be transferrable. (Technically, the law does not ban paperless tickets, as Islam states in his note.)
High-demand artists have been grappling with the multibillion-dollar ticket-reselling market for the past decade, as scalping has evolved from street corner sales to major corporations such as eBay-owned StubHub. Some top artists have, in recent years, attempted to boost their prices to compete with scalpers, allowing them to be resold via Ticketmaster's TM+ or creating high-priced VIP packages.
Others, from Waits to LCD Soundsystem, do everything they can to prevent the tickets from landing in brokers' hands. In his note, Islam apologized for the change and criticized New York's resale law for "enabling [tickets] to be bought and sold at inflated prices.” On his Facebook page, Islam also linked to a 1974 interview in which he said of scalping: “I was so angry that at one point I seriously considered buying the tickets off of the [scalpers] and re-distributing them to my loyal fans."