It’s not official unless it says official.

Before I begin this blog, let me say, I believe brokers have a place in our business.  And in most businesses, actually.  The free market system should allow an individual or a business to purchase something and then sell it for a higher price if the market so demands.

That said, if the market goes unregulated, consumers can suffer.

And now this blog can begin . . .

If you’re a long term reader of this blog, or if you’ve heard me speak about ticketing and the secondary market before then you’ve probably heard the story of my Mom who brought her grandkids to see Annie in Boston a few years ago only to tell me later that she didn’t think she’d be able to bring them to another show in the future.

“Why not, Mom?”

“It’s too expensive!  I paid $140+ a ticket!”

A quick google search told me that she paid more than face value for the ticket because when looking for seats, she did a quick google search as well and ended up on the site of a secondary market seller.  And she bought tickets not knowing she wasn’t buying from the official source.

Again, I’m a believer that brokers should and actually need to exist.  But I also believe that they should be required to notify customers that they are a secondary seller.

Well, odds are that kind of legislation is a long way from happening.  Which means that Broadway sites are going to have to do the reverse.

I propose that all Broadway shows (and Off Broadway too) get together and come up with “official language” and maybe even a Good-Housekeeping-like seal that could exist on all Broadway sites, as well as on signs in the theater, in ticket envelopes, etc.  You know, something like I have at the bottom of this site.

If we’re all pushing this same message, over time we could train our buyers to only buy official . . . or, at the very least, to know when they’re buying “unofficial.”

There’s a time and a place for both, as long as My Mom the customer knows what they are getting into.

Because if My Mom and the thousands like her decide just not to take the grandkids anymore, there won’t be a theater tomorrow for any of us to sell tickets to.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Adam says:

    A lawyer I know has a client who wanted to treat him to Met Opera tickets. He paid $495 per ticket for four tickets, which was the price for Center Parterre tickets. Unfortunately, he bough them from a look-alike site. The real Met Opera URL is the odd They got four ticket. In the Family Circle. BTW, the Met has now gone to dynamic pricing.

  • Douglas Hicton says:

    Step #2, after (or more likely IF) all Broadway shows (and Off Broadway too) manage to get together and come up with “official language” etc, should be to agree en masse to slash ticket prices by 30 to 40 per cent across the board for all seats and bring them back down to where they were in the ’80s.

    Wages of the vast majority of audience members simply have not kept pace with the cost of living since the Reagan era, and the purchasing power of a dollar has also plummeted in the last 30 years. It’s all because of Ayn-Randian greedgreedgreedgreedgreed, which is not looked upon with the same proper amount of disdain and disgust that it used to be.

    If that means not paying stars exorbitant salaries, so be it. For some producers, the conventional wisdom is that nobody will come to their shows unless they’re headlined by major movie and TV personalities. That’s just hare-brained.

    No, of course it stands to reason people don’t want to pay THROUGH THE NOSE to see a show unless there’s a big celebrity name above the title! Now, if they DIDN’T have to pay through the nose, they probably wouldn’t think they had to see a super-duper-megastar in order to have a memorable theatrical experience.

    What’s more, this huge capital outlay that producers have to fork over not only makes it hard for the underemployed acting and technical community to find work because there are fewer shows to work in–there’s only so much investor money to go around, after all–but it makes it maddeningly difficult for lesser-known writers to get their work produced. Look at the number of revivals on offer, compared to new work. Who wants to spend millions to give a new writer a shot at Broadway or even Off Broadway success? Oh, practically no one. Stephen Sondheim has said that it would be much harder for him to break into the business now than it was when he started, and he’s Stephen Effing Sondheim!

    There are very obvious reasons for this sad state of affairs, for instance star salaries as mentioned above, but also the ridiculous cost of advertising (learn to be smart about this, folks; the theatre is supposed to be full of imaginative people) and the equally ridiculous wages mandated by the professional unions.

    The only, only, ONLY acceptable solution is for producers to learn to do more with less and to voluntarily take a hit in their profits, and for the unions and advertising outlets to accept less money for services rendered. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.

    You want a vibrant theatrical culture in New York? You want to put more bums in the seats of more theatres? You want Broadway and Off Broadway to even SURVIVE? That’s how. No more pissing and moaning and pleading poverty; just work together on this, for Christ’s sake, and forget that you’re capitalists for one brief, shining moment!

  • Paula says:

    Excellent idea! I once got hoodwinked thinking that the
    site was an official site and paid $400.00 for the
    closing show (next to the closing show at Shea)by the
    way, because they added another night to the celebrity’s show. People next to me paid $99.00, and I
    was up in heaven! I know this was a concert and not
    Broadway, but it’s the same problem.

  • Agreed. I was beginning to think I was stupid. We often come to NYC from Toronto, and usually try to see a couple of Broadway shows. I find it difficult and confusing when buying tickets online, because of the number of re-sellers that appear to be original (official) sellers, and what often seem to be outrageously high prices.

  • Shayne says:

    My sister just bought tickets to see The Book of Mormon by following a link to on the show’s website. turned around and charged her a $50 service charge PER TICKET on top of the already crazy $160 she had to pay for mezzanine seats. That’s $150 in fees! Keep in mind, my sister is from out of state and can’t go to the box office to pick up advance tickets. She’s beholden to web purchases and their “service charges”. This was so outrageous that I wrote a letter to complain. For three people to sit in the balcony and watch that show it cost over $600. Who’s going to come to Broadway anymore with prices like that?

    Broadway is one of the bedrocks of NYC’s tourist industry, and prices and fees like those will kill it. Something has to give.

  • Brady Amoon says:

    Hey Ken,
    I think we’ve discussed this before on twitter, but I am so with you when it comes to making ticket buying transparent and easy for the consumer. Nothing is more frustrating than finding out the person next to you paid 10$ for what you thought were 90$ seats (or worse, getting a marketing email for 10$ tickets after you just bought 90$ tickets)
    The other thing I’ve noticed is how difficult it is for non-theatre people to buy tickets- where do they go, how do they decided where to sit, etc. The sites are not user friendly. Several people have decided not to buy tickets because they could only find ‘premium’ seats and therefore thought that price was the price for all shows at all times. I want to make theatre more accessible, and I think a first step would be making it easier for people who already want to buy tickets.

    Just my 2c (no service fee) 😉

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