First, it must be said: the “convenience fees” and other charges paid by concertgoers when they buy tickets are not the fault of any one company, as popular as that sentiment might be. Those fees are actually split between venues, bands, promoters, managers, parking companies, and who knows who else, in addition to, yes, certain large ticketing companies.
Second, it must be said: Scalping, as annoying as it can be to people who actually want to see a show instead of seizing as many tickets as possible to profit from reselling them to actual showgoers, is actually legal in most states, as is the practice of reselling tickets on StubHub or within Ticketmaster, of course.
Third, it must be said that music fans’ typical experience of buying tickets to shows, reselling them to others, or giving them to friends if they suddenly have a scheduling conflict is fairly broken. You might pay too much in fees, end up dealing with a scalper either online or off-, or have to pay anti-scalper fees and cut through red tape when you’re just innocently trying to give or sell a ticket to a friend.
Brown Paper Tickets, which bills itself as “the first and only fair trade ticket company,” aims to fix this situation (see its bill of rights). Concert organizers pay nothing to use it. Ticket buyers pay a dollar plus a 3.5 percent fee, which might seem like a lot, until you consider that this covers the credit card fees normally shouldered by the seller (causing them to inflate prices), as well as delivery of the ticket. And according to Brown Paper Tickets, other ticketing systems generate 20 percent cost add-ons for the consumer, so really, 3.5 percent isn’t much.
At SXSW last week, Brown Paper Tickets announced the availability of eight new anti-scalping tools to flesh out this promising platform, to help venues and bands sell tickets with the following improvements:
- ticket reselling
- ticket auctions
- automated blocks on IP addresses that attempt repeated transactions
- tools for event organizers to limit the number of tickets that can be ordered per buyer
- walk-up sales
- limited-time pre-sale and discount codes
- registration of purchasers for tickets that must be validated with photo identification at the door.
The company also announced an industry first: the ability to text someone else a ticket. It works. Here’s what I received when Brown Paper Tickets spokesperson Barb Morgan texted one to me:
Brown Paper Ticket’s customers are music venues, brewpubs, and anyone else who wants to offer top-of-the-line ticketing features without going through the usual avenues, or inflicting the usual fees (although, again, bands and others who normally partake of those fees might object).
If you’re a music fan who wants to buy a Brown Paper Ticket, your best bet is to go to the website and type in the name of the nearest city. We were surprised at how many bands and venues have made the switch.