The music industry has gone through a retro-revolution lately. Vinyl record sales have trended upwards for twelve years. Even cassettes are making a comeback as a collectible. The ticket buying experience might be the next part of the music business to look to the past. Trendsetters and Industrial Rock gods Nine Inch Nails are unleashing another avant-garde concept. They are making you buy physical tickets and you will have to wait in line to do it.
How Nine Inch Nails Wants You To Buy Tickets
In a wry statement on the band’s website, Nine Inch Nails indicated that fans will have to trek out to a box office to buy tickets. The initial release for the majority of their Cold And Black And Infinite Tour will be released on May 19. The tone of the statement indicated the relative novelty of buying tickets in person in 2018.
“You (an actual human being) show up at the box office, interact with the ticket seller (another actual human being) and purchase up to four tickets that will actually be handed to you on the spot. The tickets will not be available online or anywhere else before or during that day. All seats (including the best seats) will be available first come, first serve. You may actually encounter other actual human beings with similar interests likely wearing black clothing during the process and potentially interact with them. The experience has the potential to be enjoyable. Nine inch nails has always been about bringing people together, living life to the fullest and good times.”
Nine Inch Nails with Gary Numan, London, 7/15/2009
Buying Concert Tickets In 2018
While buying tickets for concerts is theoretically easier than ever before, it is actually a terrible consumer experience. If you are buying tickets as they are released it is a matter of clicking a link at exactly 10:00:01 AM on a Friday or Saturday morning… and waiting. You spend the next 35 minutes wondering if you should hit refresh, but worry that you might lose your place in cyberline if you click the wrong thing. By the time you get through, the tickets are either in the back end of the venue or sold out. God forbid you risk searching for better seats. You might lose your place in the queue if you take too long and have to start all over again.
If you can stumble upon the right pre-sale codes, you are likely confined to buying a limited selection of tickets. Those tickets are typically in higher-end sections of the venue.
Don’t even let me get started on ticket fees. That is an incredulous post for another day.
If you are unable to get tickets on the day of sale or miss the initial concert announcement, you likely buy tickets on Stubhub or another site. At that point the secondary market has inflated prices. Concert tickets become out of reach or are now a considerable investment for fans.
None of this sounds like a good business model for the concert business.
Changing the ticket buying experience is a must if industry figures want to treat their fans as customers instead of cows waiting to be milked. Fans not only have to enjoy the show, but have to enjoy a continued, positive experiences as a consumer. If the decline in movie theater attendance has taught us anything, it is that the live event can be replaced.
This Is New To Me
To be honest, as a 32-year-old I have never really known another way to buy concert tickets. I once waited in line to grab tickets to a free Joy Formidable show at Philadelphia’s North Star Bar. It felt odd, but it was also fun to wait in line with other fans.
Mudcrutch allowed its fans to buy tickets online, but you could only pick up the tickets on the day of the show. Waiting in line prior to the Mudcrutch show at the Fillmore in Philadelphia cut down on the secondary market. It allowed fans to purchase tickets without the inflated Stubhub prices. It also caused us to miss the majority of the opening set by The Shelters.
While the outcome was not ideal, I did appreciate the band’s desire to cap ticket inflation. A more streamlined process from the venue might have allowed for a better result.
Prior to these experiences, the only reason I was familiar with the Stone Age of Concert Ticket Buying was an episode of Saved By The Bell where the gang is trapped in a mall while trying to buy U2 tickets. Much like the too-colorful fashion of Saved By The Bell, it was a different time.
Why Standing In Lines Is An Idea Worth Trying
Thankfully, we moved on from the vibrant clothing. The in-person ticket experience, however, might be something to return too.
This is not the only time a major rock band has done something like this. The Foo Fighters sold tickets in an attempt to “Beat the Bots” in 2014. Buyers were still able to flip tickets online, but at least it gave fans who were willing to wait a legitimate shot at buying tickets without taking out a second mortgage.
Even if it sounds like bad idea at first, the Nine Inch Nails ticket plan may be the most realistic solution to capping secondary market prices. At its worst, standing in line is merely less convenient than being teased by a spinning computer wheel. Tickets can always go on sale online at a later date. Since secondary ticket prices can soar well above their original value, the Nine Inch Nails plan should benefit consumers who typically buy more than one ticket at a time.
If you buy a pair of Stubhub tickets that are a mere $25 above their listed price, that’s $50. That $50 could be an additional nosebleed ticket, or cover parking and a t-shirt. This may also cut down on some of those pesky fees (who wants to pay shipping and handling for every ticket in the same envelope?).
By allowing fans to wait in line for tickets, Nine Inch Nails are giving fans a chance to take ownership of their ticket purchasing experience. If fans want to save money by waiting in line, they have a better chance at paying a fair price.