Here’s one clue among many that suggest to me something was a little… off, shall we say, during today’s Ticketmaster presale for BTS member Suga’s solo tour, a highly anticipated run of concerts that’s set to kick off next month in New York.
Last spring, I went with a BTS fan to see all seven members perform together in Las Vegas as part of the group’s Permission to Dance tour. The price I paid for those tickets? A little over $300 each, for what I felt were great seats in Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium. Fast-forward to today, though, and that same person who went with me last time paid roughly the same amount again — only, this time, for seats in a section farther from the stage, and to see just one-seventh of the group (Suga, BTS’ lead rapper).
Moreover, she was one of the lucky ones. Plenty of fans who made it all the way through Tickemaster’s maddeningly complex ticket-buying process today found themselves confronted with astronomical ticket prices for Suga’s shows and thus unable to afford them. The culprit here appears to be Tickemaster’s so-called ‘platinum’ pricing that kicks in during what the company says are periods of high demand — although that excuse didn’t make much sense, at least today, and here’s why.
Ticketmaster shouldn’t have been surprised by today’s demand at all
For an example of what this looked like, here’s one example. Remember, I paid a little over $300 last year for great seats to see the full group (tickets, by the way, that I bought from Ticketmaster). But look what Ticketmaster wanted to charge this BTS fan to see a Suga solo show:
Take a look at that language above one more time. Ticketmaster comes right out and says it — that’s a platinum ticket price.
What are Ticketmaster Official Platinum Seats, you might well ask, and what’s the rationale behind doing this? Let’s consult the company’s website for an answer:
“Ticketmaster’s Official Platinum seat program enables market-based pricing (adjusting prices according to supply and demand) for live event tickets, similar to how airline tickets and hotel rooms are sold.”
Okay, got it. Even people who aren’t fans of BTS are likely aware that the group’s fandom has a massive, international presence. And if you just leave it there, jacking up prices because of high “demand” from BTS fans desperate to see Suga would seem to make sense. Except — well, wait a minute.
As anyone who’s ever participated in a Ticketmaster presale knows, the ticket company gives away codes, which fans use on the presale day to buy tickets. For Suga’s concerts, Ticketmaster set a maximum of four tickets that were allowed to be purchased for every one of those codes.
In other words: Ticketmaster knew how many codes it gave out to fans. And it could also, from that number, extrapolate the maximum amount of tickets that would be sold (no more than 4 tickets per code). If you know beforehand a rough approximation of the number of people who are going to show up to your party, because they’re the ones you gave party invites to, can you really claim to be suffering from high demand when … those people are precisely the ones who show up?
In any other setting, hiking prices sky-high for desperate fans would be called scalping
Furthermore, it’s not like everyone with a code who logged on to the Ticketmaster site today to try and buy Suga concert tickets was even let in at the same time. People are put into a digital queue, and let in bit by bit in order to buy tickets.
So, to recap: We can very much surmise that Ticketmaster had a good idea about the number of tickets that would be sold today, based on the presale codes that were given out. No one else but those people, with a code, could buy a ticket. Moreover, the queue system means that fans aren’t let onto the site all at once to buy tickets, in order not to overwhelm the company’s infrastructure.
And despite all that, Ticketmaster still exclaimed “Wow, look at this demand!” and sent prices through the roof.
Rachael Ellenbogen, an entertainment reporter for The US Sun, tweeted on Wednesday that Ticketmaster’s “verified fan lotteries, insane dynamic pricing (~platinum~ to make it look like some special, packaged ticket when it’s not), & sky-high fees have ruined ticket-buying for me.” I dare say many, many Suga fans are feeling the same way right now.
By the way, Suga’s entire US tour is now sold out as of this writing on Wednesday night (per Ticketmaster). If I was a conspiratorial man, it would be easy to assume that Ticketmaster knew it would sell out in a matter of hours — which even a non-expert could have told you would happen — and that’s why the platinum pricing went into effect. The unscientific rationale for jacking up the prices being: Because we can.