Ticketmaster, the event ticketing property of Live Nation, is enhancing its interactive seat maps so that ticket buyers and event-goers can see where their Facebook friends are sitting, and tag themselves into their seats.
The idea, says Ticketmaster executive vice president of ecommerce Kip Levin, is to return the ticket-buying experience to its pre-web social origins. “Online took away from the old experience of going down to the record store to purchase tickets,” he says. “This is a way to go back to that.”
Annie Logue: Naturally, there will be an extra “social experience” surcharge…
Dave Lifton: I’m always skeptical any time some corporate bigwig says, “We’re trying to recapture the way it was done back then,” especially when said corporation is the one that killed the way it used to be.
Dw. Dunphy: Yes, and honestly, I was no big fan of running down to the record store for tickets anyway. At least in the privacy of my own home, I could be privately indignant that all the good seats got pre-bought by Ticketmaster’s secondary “distributors.”
Scott Malchus: Worse, all of the good seats were set aside for industry people.
Annie: I’m not feeling nostalgic for the days of lining up by 5:00 pm to get a wristband, then getting up at 5:00 the next morning to get in line to buy tickets. I do miss the days of mailing in envelopes, though. I think that ended when I was in high school? Bruce Springsteen never picked mine, alas.
David Medsker: Ah, it was nice in the early to mid ’80s, though. I scored tickets in the first seven rows to a bunch of shows by being first in line.
Kelly Stitzel: We used to buy tickets from Ticketron at a local department store. Oh, Ticketron — you had the best radio spots.
Also, I said something to a friend, who is in her early 20s, about camping out for tickets to a show. She couldn’t wrap her brain around that concept.
Malchus: My favorite memory of Ticketron is walking up to the window (located in the back of our Sears automotive department) and buying four lawn tickets to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with the Georgia Satellites and the Del Fuegos, one week before the show. Total money spent? $50.
Matt Springer: Part of me does wish I could have been part of a campout for tickets, where getting in line and waiting would guarantee me a good seat — especially for Springsteen. I would have happily camped out to get a seat for a Springsteen show.
As it is, my one college-era ugly Ticketbastard experience left me so sour on those fuckers that it still angers me to think back on it — it was like a mob scene from a movie. And that was when they did have the wristbands in place. It was for an REM show on the Monster tour and it was so poorly managed. It was at a Blockbuster Music. Man, talk about two shitty companies that should have gone down together.
Jon Cummings: I’ve personally been through almost all the permutations, though I’ve never spent a whole night in a ticket line. My earliest arrival was at 4 a.m., for Prince tickets at the Rosemont Horizon outside Chicago on a frigid morning in December 1984. And by the time we got to the front of the line at 10:45 a.m., we got tickets about as good as you’d get if you got online right at 10 a.m. these days. (That is to say, about 2/3 of the way back.) It was Finals Week at Northwestern, and while gearing up for the ticket-buying adventure I had been careful to prepare for the 3 p.m. final I had that day — only to arrive back on campus at noon and discover that the final had ACTUALLY happened at 9 a.m. The prof let me take the final late, then gave me a rotten grade. It’s poetic, almost, that the course was “Dostoevsky.”
The most convoluted buying & claiming process I’ve been through was easily for Springsteen’s “Devils & Dust” tour, with the ID-showing and the two-hours-in-advance wristbands and whatnot — but that process DID seem to deter brokers and scalping, which few of these efforts seem to do.
Lately I’ve been scammed twice on Craigslist. The first time was two years ago, for the Coachella evening that featured Leonard Cohen, Morrissey and McCartney — I bought hard tickets off a guy and they turned out to be counterfeit. The second time was last summer for Lady Gaga, when a woman sold the same pair of print-at-home tickets to at least eight different people (according to the guy at the door with the scanner, which registers every seat claimed). The good news is that my groups got into both sold-out shows, after spending a bundle of extra money each time. The lesson: As evil as StubHub is, at least there’s a guarantee attached to the tickets.
Dw. Dunphy: Try waiting on line, thinking all the while that you’re in a really good position, only to have the show be sold out when you reach the sales counter. That’s happened to me. I’ve also had computer hiccups during online purchasing where, during a finalization phase, the seat you purchased gets yanked out from beneath you. You try for a different seat, and another, until you wind up behind a pillar or far-left or far-right.
Springer: I went to NU for undergrad too, Jon — that awful Blockbuster Music was right on the main drag there in downtown Evanston.
The ugliest experience I had getting tickets was that REM debacle, but the biggest heartbreak was one morning in my early twenties. I was driving into work when WXRT announced a show going on sale that morning, in about 15 minutes, for Bob Dylan at the Park West, a very intimate room. I worked at a pretty cool place, so I didn’t even call ahead — I just drove straight to the nearest Carson’s and made a beeline for the ticket counter.
I then stood behind some insane middle-aged crone who took 20 minutes to buy goddamned theater tickets for a touring production of Les Miz or some such shit. By the time I got up to the counter, the show was sold out.
Unrelated to TM, but the best ticket kismet I have had, was getting plucked by a roadie out of the back row of the big superdome thing in Indianapolis, and sitting second row at an Elton John/Billy Joel show. That was remarkable.
Malchus: My wife and I got up at the crack of dawn to get tickets for Springsteen’s Tom Joad tour. It was his first ever acoustic tour and he was kicking it off at the Wiltern in L.A. We get to the Tower Records and are handed wristbands, then we wait for another hour and a half until they choose the number that will decide the order of people standing in line.
Julie is fifth in line! I know! I’m about to piss myself I’m so excited. So we get up to the ticket window and have a choice between opening night and the second night of concerts. Well, we’re fifth in line, who isn’t going to pick opening night? I’m already imagining sitting in one of the first 15 rows of this classic, two story theater and watching Bruce blow into his harp and possibly some of his spit landing on the guy in front of me. Of course, we had to wait, like, three months before the concert, but who cares, we’re going to opening night!
Well, we get to the Wiltern and start following the directions to our seats. Upper baclony? Huh? We keep following the directions and lo and behold, we’re three rows from the back of the frickin’ theater. Later, when I’m reading the reviews, I learn that a majority of the floor seats to the concert were either a) held for Hollywood bigwigs and industry insiders or b) purchased by scalpers. Mind you, it was a great show, but there has always been a tinge of disappointment that we went through everything to get the tickets and still wound up in the nosebleeds.