Some Musicians Using Ticket Scalping To Raise Funds For Charity

from the who-needs-tickets dept

Ticketmaster helped build its consumer-unfriendly reputation even more earlier this year, when news emerged that it was collaborating with some musicians and concert promoters to try and push scalpers aside -- and grab their revenues. Scalping's back in the news again this week, but with a slightly different twist: a number of musicians are working with a company called Charity Partners to sell some tickets to their shows at scalper-like prices, then donate the revenues over face value to charity. It's definitely an interesting idea that seeks to do something positive with the excess willingness to pay for certain concert tickets over their face value, rather than let it go to scalpers -- or back into the pockets of the artists and promoters themselves. But will the charity aspect be enough to deflect criticism that this is just another way for musicians to fleece their fans?


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(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 10:34am

    "deflect criticism that this is just another way for musicians to fleece their fans?"

    The myth that setting a market price somehow fleeces the customer has to come to an end.

    The sole reason scalpers exist is because ticket prices are set well below their market value. If ticket prices reflected reality, i.e., their market value, scalpers would instantly go out of business.

    What exactly is wrong with someone selling a product or a service at the market price? Where is the "fleecing" because someone is willing to pay a grand to see Bruce Springsteen. No one puts a gun to that fan's head. He's willing to do it. Selling a product or service at a price someone is willing to pay is completely rational, reasonable, legal, and moral.

     

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  2.  
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    hegemon13, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 10:40am

    Re:

    I had the same reaction to this article. The artist is performing, that's it. The value (not price) of the ticket is whatever people are willing to pay in order to see that performance. Right now, for some unfathomable reason, artists have chosen to price tickets far below their value. That is a gracious move on their part, which allows access to their shows by fans who could not otherwise afford it. The ticket face value is the absolute opposite of fleecing.

    Charging market price is only fair, and it is what every other business does. It's not like artists are holding their fans up and emptying their pockets. These fans are people who CHOOSE to pay more for the opportunity of watching the performance.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 10:43am

    Fish, of course most artists don't want to have to charge high prices (market price) because they know that will turn some fans off.

    You can't argue free in one area and then charge high prices in another with a straight face.

    And no, turning off thousands of fans isn't rational or reasonable and moral. It is stupid.

     

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  4.  
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    Tgeigs (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 10:50am

    Re:

    "The myth that setting a market price somehow fleeces the customer has to come to an end."

    That myth only applies in a truly free market, which we don't have. The problem with equating true market value and willingness to pay in the case of a limited number of seats is that the free market value might be out of reach for a large number of consumers. In that case, like here in America, scalpers are able to function because a band doesn't want the price of the show to be out of reach for their fans, but scalpers can still make money off those willing to pay the higher prices, thus generating more early ticket sales, etc. etc.

    After all, you might be able to find 17k people willing to pay $250 per ticket for Disturbed tickets and fill the United Center, because 17k people COULD pay that price. But if 97% of Disturb's fans CAN'T pay that price, they risk alienating them by charging the "true market value".

    "The sole reason scalpers exist is because ticket prices are set well below their market value."

    Mmmmmm no. That's only part of the reason. The other part is that ticket sellers don't want the hassle of using ALL of the avenues available to get tickets to fans. In many cases, more in sporting events than any other, they want the fans to come to them. Sometimes the fans don't want to. Scalpers also actively market the events, informing their regular clients of times/dates etc.

    "What exactly is wrong with someone selling a product or a service at the market price? Where is the "fleecing""

    You're probably right, there isn't any true fleecing. Nor is there anything wrong with charging as high as the market will bear. Just don't complain when the bands and artists want to go another route because of the consequences.

    "Selling a product or service at a price someone is willing to pay is completely rational, reasonable, legal, and moral."

    Well, two out of four ain't bad I suppose. Reasonable and legal, absolutely. Rational...usually, unless you keep doing it after a detrimental economic effect.

    Moral...I don't know what that means. It certainly doesn't morally play nicely with Christianity, with all of its messages of giving more and taking less, and of being satisfied with reasonable amounts, rather than whatever "someone is willing to pay" (the parable of the three workers in the vineyard comes to mind). I don't know enough about the other religions to say one way or the other, but what religion EVER stated "And the Lord looked down and said, 'Make sure you get every penny you can, because that is good and just'"?

     

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  5.  
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    Andrew, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 10:59am

    Marked Up Tickets

    Some musicians do one better and give the fans a real reason to buy higher priced tickets.

    The band Incubus puts together VIP packages, where fans can do a meet and greet with the band before a show and get front row/pit tickets. All of the packages for each city are put up on ebay, fans pay as much as they're willing to pay, and all the proceeds go to the charity the band runs (www.makeyourselffoundation.org)

     

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  6.  
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    stat_insig (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:04am

    There is a difference between scalping and auctioning you know...

     

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    TheStupidOne, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:07am

    Lottery

    Bands should really use some form of a lottery system to distribute tickets. Set a price well in advance and have people register for the opportunity to buy tickets. Then 2 - 3 weeks before the show randomly select people to get tickets (or not randomly if they don't want to) and if they don't buy them offer them to someone who was less lucky. Any tickets that don't sell have available for purchase at the door.

    Pretty much impossible to scalp tickets in any significant quantity then.

     

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  8.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:08am

    Re:

    "You can't argue free in one area and then charge high prices in another with a straight face."

    Yes you can, I get NBC broadcasts free over the air. But yet if I wanted to buy ad time on NBC, I would have to pay a market rate.

    And lack an understanding as to why music is essentially free. It's free because in the digital age it has very little costs of distribution. However, a live performance is very limited by space and time. To put it another way, I can put up a song on bittorrent and everyone on the planet can download it. But it's impossible for the entire world to attend one of my concerts. Concerts are meat space, they have real and physical costs.

     

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  9.  
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    Paul Brinker (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Heres the problem, Wierd Al tossed a few events in the portland area, at the Ticketmaster events, he sold out, BUT over half the seats were empty. The event holder was totly happy because it got 100% ticket sales, the fans were pissed because there paying well above market price for tickets (20 dollar tickets going for 100+) and Wierd Al is mad because he has an army of fans who want to come and cant get in because there not willing to pay scalpers AND hes mad because he has a ton of empty seats.

    Now at non Ticket Master events his shows are standing room only, because eather tickets are ONLY sold at the door (several shows in Canada) or tickets are tied to a credit card (your card becomes your ticket and limits per card).

    Ticket Master doing offical scalping just means more empty seats and difficulty attracting new fans by having prices in range of them (no im not paying 100+ to go to a group I have never heard of, but I will pay 20ish to see someone whos unknown to me)

    Ticket sales are not only about geting the most money for a seat, there about attracting new fans to your act, which drives up CD, Itunes, and tshirt sales and allows you to grow your fan base.

    Bands know that old fans are not worth as much as new fans, old fans already have all your CDs, new fans dont have anything yet.

     

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  10.  
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    Corey, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:14am

    Really? Did you just say that?

    Did you just write that Ticketmaster tries to 'grab" ticket scalpers revenues? The reason that artists team up with ticketmaster on this is because it screws the fans. Scalpers buy up seats, making them more difficult to get, and then sell them at outrgeous prices. Remove the scapler and fans can actually purchase those seats at the face value of the ticket.

     

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  11.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re:

    "might be out of reach for a large number of consumers."

    Who cares?! Owning a solid gold house is out of my reach, so should the government mandate that the prices of solid gold houses be artificially lowered to make them in my reach? Of course not.

    "The other part is that ticket sellers don't want the hassle of using ALL of the avenues available to get tickets to fans."

    That makes no sense to me at all.

    "You're probably right, there isn't any true fleecing."

    Close, I am right.

    Nor is there anything wrong with charging as high as the market will bear.

    Thanks!

    Just don't complain when the bands and artists want to go another route because of the consequences.

    I won't because I have no cause to complain. There are millions of things on this planet I want but cannot afford. Complaining about things I cannot afford is a pure waste of time.

    "Rational...usually, unless you keep doing it after a detrimental economic effect."

    What "detrimental economic effect"?! People have been buying tickets at market value, i.e., through scalpers for decades. But yet year after year people keep doing it.

    "Moral...I don't know what that means."

    Me neither, I just put it in for a hyperbolic joke. ;-)

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:27am

    By this reasoning, then maybe drug companies shouldn't distribute their drugs in Africa since most there can't afford them.

     

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  13.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:27am

    Re:

    Hello coward!

    Obviously you've not been paying attention.

    Free for good whose distribution cost is nigh zero.
    NOT free for those things that really are in scarce supply.

    Try to remember for future reference.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:29am

    Re:

    Incorrect.

    The price of tickets is set based on a number of things, including the desire to fill all the seats. Raising the price until only a very few people can afford the tickets isn't realistic.

    Example, a few dedicated (read moronic) fans of Madonna are willing to pay thousands of dollars for good tickets. Do you think everyone in the room is that stupid? Nope. IF tickets were $1000 each, it is very likely that the concert venue would be mostly empty.

    Now, you could charge $1000 a ticket for a concert in a restricted venue, say like 200 seat night club. Different story, because a true market scarcity has been created. But it is doubtful that in each town there would be 20,000 people willing to shell out $1000 for a concert.

    Overcharging for concert tickets is a fast way to run yourself out of business - and because a band or an artist can't make money selling music anymore, this is their only remaining business.

     

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  15.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:32am

    Re:

    Hello coward!

    Obviously you've not been paying attention.

    Free for a good whose supply/distribution cost is nigh zero.
    NOT free for those things that really are in scarce supply.

    Try to remember for future reference.

    (Also, you reply like a certain mentally deficient individual whom I've been encouraging to expand his mental capabilities.)

     

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  16.  
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    CStrube (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:33am

    Re:

    You had me right up to
    Selling a product or service at a price someone is willing to pay is completely rational, reasonable, legal, and moral.
    empahsis mine

    I think there's some cops and DAs who'd disagree on that one point, at least when interacting with prostitutes and dealers.

     

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  17.  
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    Paul Brinker (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:46am

    And cable companys in markets with no other alternative (by law!)

    In fact im sure there are many things we deal with that have eather Legal or Moral reasons for not charging as high of a price as is charged.

    Lower prices also keep away competition because the more profit in a given sector the more likly more people will enter that sector. Thats why products like Hulu are coming out.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:48am

    Re:

    All it means is that ticketmaster forgot what business they were in, and didn't properly serve the customers. In a perfect world, this would mean the consumers and the performer would no longer use Ticketmaster.

    "old fans already have all your CDs"

    Actually, you mean old fans already downloaded all your stuff online, and haven't paid you anything yet. New fans haven't downloaded it all yet.

     

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  19.  
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    Headbhang (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Re:

    What "detrimental economic effect"?! People have been buying tickets at market value, i.e., through scalpers for decades. But yet year after year people keep doing it. Don't underestimate the psychological factors. Fans often consider the bands' attitudes alongside their musical talent in how much they like/support them. If bands charged the full market value for their gigs, yeah, they might be able to fill the venue with the most affluent and hardcore of their fans and maximally cash in... but those who couldn't afford it will likely be pissed off and perhaps even those who do end up paying will be holding a grudge and become extra critical of their performance. Moreover, don't assume that because plenty of people pay high scalping prices, that they would all necessarily pay if it if it were the official price. It's possible that people are willing to shell out more because they regard the higher price as their own fault for being slow on the purchase. Regarding it as caused by the musicians' greed might set off their outrage reactions and refuse to go as "punishment". Being greedy isn't always the "rational" choice, even assuming that deplorable definition that reason == selfish profit maximization.

     

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  20.  
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    Headbhang (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re:

    Heh, good point!

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re:

    It's free because in the digital age it has very little costs of distribution.

    So if there is a cost then it is ulimately not an infinite good unless server space, hdd space, electricity, internet fees and time all become free or infinite. Servers fail, hdds crash, time passes, etc...

    I say we make all those elements free or infinite so Mike is right, because it is not even about what is best the consumers, but it is Mike being right.

     

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  22.  
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    Tgeigs (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    In the interest of replying to all of each other's sentences, which we both seem to love so much:

    "Who cares?! Owning a solid gold house is out of my reach, so should the government mandate that the prices of solid gold houses be artificially lowered to make them in my reach? Of course not."

    Who's talking about government mandates? And the analogy only works if you've got a limited amount of space in which to build those gold houses, say 30 "house slots". If you have only 30 house slots and 30 people willing to pay 100k per gold house, then you'd be stupid to do anything else. But what if you have OTHER land that has MORE of these house slots (other venues, in nearby cities). By charging what the top tier could afford, you've alienated potentially massive amounts of people that will no longer buy your Gold House art, your Gold House interviews/appearences, your Gold House tshirts/patches/stickers/etc., and possibly, will no longer consider your other Gold House slots that are available because you've done pissed them off. So...THAT detrimental effect.

    "That makes no sense to me at all."

    I believe you.

    "Close, I am right."

    I don't deal in absolutes, since I spend so much time each day disproving OTHER people's BS absolutes.

    "Thanks!"

    You're Welcome!

    "I won't because I have no cause to complain. There are millions of things on this planet I want but cannot afford. Complaining about things I cannot afford is a pure waste of time."

    I meant from the perspective of the ticket seller and/or venue. Which I think you knew.

    "What "detrimental economic effect"?! People have been buying tickets at market value, i.e., through scalpers for decades. But yet year after year people keep doing it."

    And as I thought I'd already explained, that's because a decent portion of the less-wealthy fanbase has already been served with the lower priced tix. Afterall, not EVERY ticket sold is then scalped.

    "Me neither, I just put it in for a hyperbolic joke. ;-)"

    Fair enough. I'm used to Christian retards in my life espousing the "morality" of their religion, even though they often haven't bothered studying that religion's history, origins, policies, beliefs, etc. They annoy me.

    You do not....yet.

     

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  23.  
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    AnonCow, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 12:21pm

    So, if Bernie Maddoff had given all his profits to charity, his fraudulent behaviour would have been ok? I really doubt the investors that lost their life savings would be down with that.

    This charity crap is just P.R. from the Ticketmaster/LiveNation agglomeration to deflect attention from the fact that they have basically been outed fleecing ticket buyers thru the secondary ticket market.

     

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  24.  
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    AnonCow, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 12:21pm

    So, if Bernie Maddoff had given all his profits to charity, his fraudulent behaviour would have been ok? I really doubt the investors that lost their life savings would be down with that.

    This charity crap is just P.R. from the Ticketmaster/LiveNation agglomeration to deflect attention from the fact that they have basically been outed fleecing ticket buyers thru the secondary ticket market.

     

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  25.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    charity

    they're donating to charity for the tax credit, not altruism.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 12:42pm

    The article ends with "But will the charity aspect be enough to deflect criticism that this is just another way for musicians to fleece their fans?"

    So, we don't want musicans to charge for music (becauses it's free to distribute (even though it costs time and money to create it), and then, if musicians try to make all they can off concerts, that's fleecing the fans?

    What exactly is Carlo Longino's solution? Spend a year recoding music that you can never charge for, and then tour as often as possible for as little profit as possible?

    I can't tell if tis is him just being bitter that some musicians make more money then him, of if he just gets mad whenever he has to pay for anything.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Tgeigs,

    Your rant has been duly noted.

     

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  28.  
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    Paul Brinker (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 2:59pm

    Tell me this, your a small band who got a little fame in one town, Ticket master sees this fame and somehow for a short time thinks your the next big star. You go sing some place and get told that every ticket for this 1000+ seat location is sold, then you get there and its not even half full. How happy as a band are you that Scalpers (whom dont even really know who you are) are holding 500+ tickets to your event and set the price so high noone would pay because your somewhat unknown?

    This is the real issue bands are geting hit with, scalpers are making the price so high that you cant make new fans since the fans see the lowest ticket is above there budget and never look back.

    At the same time, how would you, a fan, like to be told you cant get in because its sold out but you can watch it on TV only to see lots and lots of empty seats.

    Why does this happen? Scalpers dont care! For each ticket that cost them 20 bucks, and there able to sell them at 1000 + there making so much profit that thay can eat the loss of a seat not selling The only one whos hurt is the still growing band who gets no say one way or the other.

     

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  29.  
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    some old guy, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 3:16pm

    Re: charity

    they're donating to charity for the tax credit, not altruism.

    Close. They are doing it for the free press.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 3:51pm

    The thing about half these "charity" organizations is that I don't trust them. You donate to charity and maybe about a tenth of that money actually goes to a good cause. The rest of it goes to rich people. I guess it can be considered charity for rich people.

     

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  31.  
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    Garry, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 1:48am

    "But will the charity aspect be enough to deflect criticism that this is just another way for musicians to fleece their fans"


    I agree with a lot of others here. The point has been made before that the performance is a scarce commodity and a unique experience. If artists were to follow the infinite abundance of the digital medium pushing price to zero, then what's wrong with charging more for live events? If you are getting music for free, it's difficult to criticise the band for using a business model involving higher live prices.

    Granted, not all bands are exactly giving away their music for free, but if people are willing to pay extortionate prices for tickets, then let them. It's a luxury commodity.

     

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  32.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Just in case you really don't understand (I think you're probably just a troll but who knows)... if there is a MARGINAL cost then it's not an infinite good. Each ticket for a concert has a marginal cost, because that seat can't be used again for the same concert.

    This is not true for digital distribution. It does not cost any more to make 2 copies than just one (any difference, such as the hard drive platter has to move a little more so uses more power, is so tiny as to be not measurable, let alone economically significant), so there is no marginal cost. FIXED costs (such as everything you named) do not play a part in price in a competitive market.

     

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  33.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 10:16am

    Re:

    I think Carlo is just really snarky. Usually it doesn't get in the way of him being right, but in this case I don't know why he would describe "charging market price" as "fleecing".

     

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  34.  
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    Carlo, Jun 9th, 2009 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re:

    I don't actually consider this system fleecing, I think it's pretty clever. My comment in the last line was directed at the criticism that ideas like these inevitably attract from people who consider them to be unfair, unethical or in short, "fleecing". Somehow once the ticket price goes above face value, especially if the artist is involved, it flips a switch in many people's minds that fans are somehow being exploited.

    To the AC:
    "So, we don't want musicans to charge for music (becauses it's free to distribute (even though it costs time and money to create it), and then, if musicians try to make all they can off concerts, that's fleecing the fans?

    What exactly is Carlo Longino's solution? Spend a year recoding music that you can never charge for, and then tour as often as possible for as little profit as possible?"

    If you read the post, you'd see that in this example, the artists aren't making any additional profit, it's going to charity, so I'm not exactly sure what your point is. Furthermore, I'm not sure where I ever said that musicians should make as little profit from tours as possible.

     

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