Many New Yorkers awoke this morning, checked their wireless connections, manned their keyboards, and futilely attempted to purchase tickets for two last-minute Radiohead concerts this week at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan. As the clock struck 10, however, thousands were met with the familiar message: Tickets were unavailable, but perhaps try again closer to the date, because, "FYI," some tickets might be re-released.
"Refresh, refresh," as the novelist Benjamin Percy might suggest. But to no avail. Despite the two-ticket limit Ticketmaster imposed on each purchase, most fans were shut out.
Many of them took to Twitter to immediately express their distaste.
"Who else wants to murder Ticketmaster right now in NYC?" one user wrote. "Anonymous/Lylzsec hacked Ticketmaster and stole all the Radiohead tickets," suggested another. "Sigh... Another morning spent re-discovering how much I loathe Ticketmaster."
Stephen Blackwell from Death and Taxes had actually thought ahead, emailing a contact at Live Nation directly last week in hopes of securing tickets in advance. Instead, he received an automated message that "if this email is in regards to tickets to Radiohead," then no, even he would not be able to help you.
"Tickets go on sale on September 26 @10:00 AM at ticketmaster and I wish you the best of luck," the email read.
Indeed, if the world of music fans were a collective superhero, Ticketmaster might make a good villain.
The ticketing service, which merged with promotions giant Live Nation in 2010, has made very few friends in recent years, what with the proliferation of ticket-auctioning sites charging exorbitant mark-ups, and the rising pricetags of mysterious "service fees," which increase the price of a ticket even further.
In the past few years, Ticketmaster has been taken to court multiple times regarding these service charges, most recently in Arkansas, where resident Corey McMillan complained that these service fees are actually illegal under state law.
Arkansas statute 5-63-201, Ticket News reported, states that a person or company cannot sell a ticket to any "music entertainment event at a greater price than that printed on the ticket or the box office sale price plus any reasonable charge for handling or credit card use."
That case is now in the hands of the state's Supreme Court, and similar suits have been launched in California and Baltimore, as fans continue to raise questions about Ticketmaster fees and practices.
Frustrations are escalated further, however, as flaws in their online ticketing system become more apparent. Eric Gang, a web developer based in New York, spent two hours this morning figuring out how he might buy tickets directly from the Roseland Ballroom, only to discover that the venue -- like thousands of others across the country -- only worked through Ticketmaster. He'd have to buy them online with everybody else.
In a stroke of luck, Gang was actually able to secure two tickets in his online queue at around 10:06 a.m. But before finalizing his purchase, he had to "Log in" as a new user with Ticketmaster. After completing that process, his tickets were suddenly unavailable.
Refresh, refresh, refresh. No luck.
"The site had dropped everything," Gang said. "That's what happens when the venue is the customer. Not the consumer."
Travis Tefft, a producer for the "Opie and Anthony" radio show on Sirius, on the other hand, was able to log onto Ticketmaster at 11:51 a.m., almost two hours after they went on sale, and landed two tickets for the Wednesday night show.
So what gives? Shouldn't something like that be impossible?
Jacqueline Peterson, a spokesperson for Ticketmaster, said the company wasn't willing to discuss the inner workings of their online ticketing process, but released this statement in an email to The Huffington Post:
There was tremendous demand for Radiohead’s New York shows and in comparison, there were a relatively small number of tickets available. This is an example of where paperless ticketing -- currently restricted in New York -- could have created a great fan experience and ensured that all of the available tickets were purchased by real fans instead of some being scooped up by scalpers.
Peterson is referring to the paperless ticketing bill that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law in May of this year, which requires that all paperless tickets purchased for events in New York be "transferrable," meaning they could technically be resold by the customer.
The bill seems to directly benefit services like StubHub, which thrives off of customer resales. Under this law, professional brokers are able to gobble up hundreds of tickets and then resell them through sites like these. Ticketmaster's "paperless tickets" require the customer to verify their personal credit card when they claim their tickets at will call.
On the other hand, Ticketmaster also happens to run a resale marketplace of their own. And this morning on TicketsNow, which Ticketmaster acquired for $265 million in February, 2008, you could still purchase some Radiohead tickets for this week's shows. The cheapest ones ran for $1,242 each.
So, you know, chump change.
As of this afternoon, however, neither TicketsNow nor Ticketmaster had any tickets available.
Check out some other irate Twitter responses below: