For music fans, the main way to avoid hefty TicketMaster or other fees is to purchase tickets directly from a venue. But it's not just fans that are buying tickets at the box office--its bands too.
As the New York Times recently reported, one Colorado band, the String Cheese Incident -- a jam band with a devoted granola-and-Birkenstock fan base -- has taken fee-avoidance on behalf of its fans to a new level and recently pulled off a massive crowdsourcing feat to help its fans avoid TicketMaster fees.
The band, which is headquartered in Colorado, rallied about 50 of its fans in Los Angeles to march over to the Greek Theater and buy tickets in person -- each person could buy eight tickets -- for an upcoming show. The group bought all 400 available tickets at $49.95 each and mailed them back to the band's office. String Cheese Incident is now selling them from its website -- at face value -- though with a shipping cost of $12 per order.
“We’re scalping our own tickets at no service charge,” Mike Luba, one of the group’s managers, told the NYT. “It’s ridiculous.”
The band's tactics underscore the extreme lengths fans -- and some fan-friendly artists -- will go to get around ticket fees, which can add as much as 30 to 40 percent to the cost of a show, according to the NYT.
Much to fans' frustration, service fees and other vendor fees have just become part and parcel of concert going, bumping up the cost per ticket from a few bucks to almost $20.
Some venues have moved away from TicketMaster to other ticketing systems, such as the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Ga., but that doesn't necessarily mean lower fees. For example, a $72 ticket to see Nicki Minaj at the Fox this summer will cost another $14.25 in fees, according to the AJC.
While getting tickets at the box office can cut down on most fees, another way to save money is to just wait until the last minute. Buyers on ticket resale website StubHub.com reported that they paid 30 percent less in ticket costsby purchasing on the day of the event, than if they had purchased tickets one month prior.
Of course, String Cheese Incident is hardly the first band to sell tickets directly to their fans. The Grateful Dead sold tickets through mail order -- a practice that ended up becoming a time-honored ritual with fans decorating envelopes for their ticket orders.
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