Paperless Tickets Driving Wild Pricing Patterns

Paperless Tickets Driving Wild Pricing Patterns

Used to be that ticket prices would consistently fall in the days leading up to a concert event. As paper ticketing has become more prevalent, there are signs that ticket pricing patterns are more volatile as events grow near. I propose that those changes are a direct consequence of paperless ticketing, the device that was intended to curb ticket resale (what?). Data compiled by Brady Fowler show some patterns that support this notion. In reading the analysis on the linked article, U2 and Rush experience near show time price spikes, while Taylor Swift and the Rolling Stones show wild fluctuation in ticket price in the days leading to show.

In the last couple of years I have experienced the influence of paperless tickets in a two specific instances and one general case.

Taylor Swift 1989 Tour: I attended both the San Diego and Atlanta shows (my wife is a big TSwift fan). In San Diego, I waited until 30 minutes before show time to buy two general admission standing only tickets by the front of the stage for 150% of face value. This was from a street scalper who had the tickets listed on StubHub at the same time I was negotiating the purchase. At the Atlanta show, I waited until two hours before the show before caving in on a pair of loge level tickets that had been at 200% of face value all day.

Meghan Trainor Tour at Blue Hills in Boston: 30 minutes before show time, I purchased 2 paper tickets from a street scalper at 40% below face value. Meanwhile, SeatGeek listed slightly less desirable tickets for immediate download at about 90% of face value.

Generally, it’s not unusual to use the resale market to attend concerts on a last minute basis. I will do this if I can find last minute tickets well below face value. Used to be really easy when paper tickets were in effect, but with paperless available from most of the popular ticketing apps, I have to be ready to buy very close to show time, nearly committing to attend before I have a ticket. Consequently, I have not been able to see as many shows lately.

By no means is this quality research, but I think there is something to the observation. Perhaps a scholar somewhere is working on this very question?


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