A ticket bot speaks

A government crackdown on online-concert-ticket resales only scratches the surface

If you’ve gone online to buy tickets for a big concert lately, the odds are good that you’ve encountered a “sold out” notification mere minutes after the designated on-sale time. This seems pretty fishy. How could tens of thousands of seats vanish so quickly?

The short answer is the usual spectre: “scalpers” or “ticket bots” have long been the scourge of the concert industry, gobbling up sought-after tickets at face value through nefarious means, exorbitantly marking up the cost and then reselling them either on the street outside the venues or, more commonly these days, via resale sites. Even Ticketmaster controls its own secondary marketplace for tickets now.  

So many would-be patrons have expressed outrage that the Ontario government has launched an inquiry into the matter. They’ve circulated a survey soliciting feedback from concertgoers and plan to issue a report on their findings in the spring.

But will the province get every perspective on the matter? In an exclusive interview with NOW, one ticket bot tells us it doesn’t matter.

“You’re gonna have to speak up – I ain’t turning this sick song down,” he tells me over a flip phone, a Father John Misty record blaring in the background. To protect his anonymity, he asks to be identified as Stank but then repeatedly refers to himself in the third-person as “Lamont Wood.” 

“This whole witch hunt is a bunch of horseshit,” he argues. “Look, the people who really deserve to see that Taylor chick or whoever will get themselves in, all right? You can whine all day long, but the facts are, it’s dark and hell is hot. If you’re willing to pay $250 to see my main man Misty, odds are good you’d pay $1,000. Lamont Wood’s gonna cash in on that.

“These idiots happily overpaid for tickets before,” he adds. “They’re just mad it’s harder to spend their way in now.”

Stank suggests there’s nothing new here. It’s a tradition for shady elements to exploit the passion and creativity of artists by taking advantage of the fanaticism of their audiences. Online ticket sales simply opened up more revenue doors.

“You see schmucks blaming themselves,” he chuckles. “Like, ‘Waah, boo hoo, we didn’t get our tickets because our internet connection must’ve been too slow.’ Then they pony up for faster internet from some of the same companies sponsoring the shows! Such suckers.

“Don’t tell Lamont Wood you think a band’s people aren’t in on this resale shit,” he says, lowering his bot voice. “I mean, c’mon. When a $50 ticket disappears off a retail site and then reappears minutes later for $1,250, who do you think gets a kickback from that?”

When asked about the possibility of government intervention, Stank scoffs. He says he’d only be anxious if Kellie Leitch assumes some form of power.

“You saw that freakin’ video? Well, I went to bot school with her. Total nut. Sold her LMFAO tickets for two grand once. True story.” 

music@nowtoronto.com | @vishkhanna

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