Guest post by Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
Our piece about what funnyman Louis CK is teaching the music industry has attracted a fair amount of attention on the web this week — and as such, it’s only fair to follow up with information about how his strategy of selling tickets directly to fans, for one flat price of $45 regardless of city or seat, is working. As it turns out, it’s working great.
Editors Note: Louis CK has announced that he sold 100,000 tickets direct to fans in 2 days for a gross of $4.5 million.
Not only are these tickets not subject to exorbitant “convenience” fees, but they’re being scalped (i.e. resold at a profit) at an incredibly low rate. This is almost certainly due to Louis’ anti-scalping policy, which includes offering the tickets at will call, cancelling tickets for sale above the original $45 price, and working with venues to make it all work:
"If you try to sell the ticket anywhere for anything above the original price, we have the right to cancel your ticket (and refund your money). This is something I intend to enforce. There are some other rules you may find annoying, but they are meant to prevent someone who has no intention of seeing the show from buying the ticket and just flipping it for twice the price from a thousand miles away…"
"Doing things this way means I”m making less than I would have made if I did a standard tour, using the usual very excellent but expensive ticketing service. In some cities I’ve had to play smaller venues and do more shows. But I like doing more shows, and about a year ago, I reached a place where I realized I am making enough money doing comedy, so the next thing that interested me is bringing your price down. Either way, I still make a whole lot more than my grandfather who taught math and raised chickens in Michigan."
Kudos, sir. According ticket search engine SeatGeek, only 122 Louis CK tickets are currently for sale on the over 60 ticket exchanges tracked by the service. That includes all of his 52 upcoming shows. That means that for each show, only about two tickets are potentially being scalped.
“These quantities are extremely low and far below what we typically see in regards to ticket supply for other comedians — even immediately following an on-sale,” SeatGeek director of communications Will Flaherty told Evolver.fm via email. “Furthermore, the few tickets that are listed online for the upcoming tour are available only at extremely high prices — on average over $200.”
So hardly any of these tickets are being scalped, and even then, the prices are over 4X what Louis is charging. For musicians who want to help their fans avoid paying high fees and dealing with the problem of scalpers driving up prices and grabbing all the inventory, the Lessons of Louis appear to be quite sound.
Here’s some more detail from SeatGeek about what they found:
- "There’s no question that Louis C.K. shows have fetched quite the premium on secondary markets in the past. The average price paid for a ticket to a Louis C.K. show within the past 3 years on secondary markets is $110.05 – or almost 2x the cost of a $45 face value ticket to any show on Louis C.K.’s upcoming tour. There’s also generally a robust market for Louis CK tickets on online secondary markets, with on average about 150 tickets per show changing hands. For high demand shows in cities like Chicago, Boston and New York, anywhere from 500 to 600 tickets per Louis C.K. show are re-sold on secondary markets."
- "Some shows in major markets have fetched even higher multiples on secondary markets than the above average. Tickets to Louis C.K’s show on November 4th, 2010 at Carnegie Hall sold on average for $190.78, while tickets to either one of his appearances in the New York Comedy Festival at New York’s Beacon Theater on November 10th, 2011 resold for an average of $175.72."
- "In light of the restrictions that Louis C.K. has imposed on the resale of tickets to this new tour, we were curious whether or not the threat of ticket invalidation has put a damper on secondary market activity for recently announced tour. In brief, it appears that so far, these measures are keeping the volume of tickets listed on secondary markets low — though the few tickets that are listed on online secondary markets are posted at an average price of $203.66."
- "As a secondary market aggregator that pulls from over 60 ticketing sites online, SeatGeek has a comprehensive view of ticket supply across the breadth of online markets, and across all 52 announced shows on Louis C.K.’s tour, there are only 122 tickets listed on major online secondary markets — an average of just slightly over 2 tickets listed per show. Many major secondary ticketing websites — including StubHub — are offering no listings at all and are not providing a means for individual sellers to list Louis C.K. tickets for sale. In brief, it appears that the restrictions on these tour tickets are, by and large, keeping tickets off secondary market sites."