Nashville’s Ticket Troubles

NewsChannel 5 in Nashville has been airing a sobering investigative report this week on the high cost of tickets to see country music stars such as Keith Urban and Taylor Swift. Ticket scalping is endemic through the concert business, but since when did the "workingman's blues" cost a second mortgage on the family trailer?

Reporter Phil Williams sank his fangs into the inflation that found $25 tickets for an Urban benefit concert going for hundreds of dollars on an aftermarket ticket site even before they officially went on sale. Out of 15,000 tickets, fewer than 5,000 were actually offered to the public -- and out of these were drawn even more tickets for Urban's fan club. Where the tickets went is documented here.

Urban also wanted to sell "True $20 Ticket[s]" to shows during his national tour, but the station only found 389 of those available at a Nashville appearance. Likewise, Taylor Swift thought that $20 tickets sounded liked a good idea, too. But her promoter, Louis Messina, explains how he talked her out of it in the report's second installment: "In her world," Messina says, "she wanted to sell every ticket for $20. She wanted to go, 'I just want my fans to be able to come to my shows.' So I said, 'Taylor, you can't do that 'cause you can't afford that. It would cost you so much money.'"

The more money Swift makes, of course, the more her promoter makes, too. Fortunately for her fans, she decided to draw the line somewhere:

Just like the deal that Keith Urban struck with Ticketmaster to pull out some seats to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, Messina said Swift also was offered a piece of the action.

"Actually, she called and said, 'We can't do that That means I'm like scalping my own tickets.' So it cost her millions and millions of dollars, I means millions of dollars, to not to do that," Messina said.

Messina suggests fans simply refuse to pay scalper prices and that Congress come to their aid with legislation to regulate ticket sales. In other words, not his problem.