Earlier this year, the String Cheese Incident announced that they would offer an allotment of tickets to their summer shows directly through their official website, without any kind of service charge. In a generous gesture to their fans, the band even agreed to eat the credit card processing fees themselves. They were initially able to implement “Service Fee-Free” ticketing for all of their summer shows except one at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on July 13th. But then they discovered a loophole that allowed them to include that gig as well.
The venue recently ran a limited promotion where fans could buy tickets, priced at $49.95, in person at the box office, without the additional $12.90 service charge. So the band decided to enlist volunteers to snatch up as many tickets as possible, which they could then resell at face value – still without a service charge – through their website.
“I think the maximum allotment was eight tickets per person,” mandolinist and guitarist Michael Kang tells Rolling Stone. “So we had some of our management there and we were able to get fans to show up and we handed them a bunch of cash and they all bought tickets.”
The fans did this out of love for the band, and to help out their fellow fans – there were no free tickets or any other incentives offered. “We have a really strong fan base; it’s a tight-knit group of people and it’s been like that from day one,” says Kang. “We’ve always had a group mandate, early on, to just do things we can to help our community out.”
In 2003, the String Cheese Incident took legal action against Ticketmaster in order to secure a larger percentage of tickets that they could sell directly through their own ticketing system. They settled out of court with favorable results except, as part of their agreement, the band was not allowed to publicize their victory. The lawsuit has recently been uncovered, however, and detailed in the book Ticket Masters by Dean Budnick and Josh Baron.
The Greek Theatre move was especially fan-friendly, considering that many of the ticket buyers for that concert are not local to the Los Angeles area. Fans of the String Cheese Incident tend to travel long distances to catch the band at as many shows as possible – especially now that the band doesn’t tour often, or even have any definite future mapped out.
“There are no plans as such,” says Kang. “I think the intention will always be there to try to make it as affordable as possible for our fans. It’s pretty simple really. There’s no master plan beyond that.”