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Marketplace Morning Report

Adele sells out, but doesn’t block scalpers

Gigi Douban Dec 21, 2015
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The British superstar Adele goes on tour next year. Tickets on this continent went on sale last week, and while some people got lucky, others tell nightmarish tales of waiting in queues only to be told shows were sold out. That’ll send people stampeding toward ticket resale hubs, which is the one thing Adele’s camp says it tried to avoid.

At exactly 10 a.m., when Adele tickets went on sale, Samatha Constable, a personal assistant in Sunnyvale, California, pounced. Time went on. And on. And on. No tickets.

“I went and got eyelash extensions, I was still logged in. I made dinner and I was still logged in,” she said.

Twelve hours later, with two browsers open on Ticketmaster’s website, Constable gave up. Tickets on resale sites like StubHub were soon listing for as much as several thousand dollars a pop. For Adele.

“I like her but I have the luxury of having a British passport,” she said. “I can go back to England anytime.”

Adele partnered with a company called Songkick to try to keep tickets off the secondary market. The company says it worked in Europe, where Adele sold more than 165,000 tickets —40 percent of the total — through her website, Adele.com. But in the U.S., where Ticketmaster is so dominant, she sold a much smaller percentage. And this is Adele, so tickets were scarce.

“And whether those are sold through scalpers or whether they’re sold through Songkick doesn’t really matter — there’s just more people who want to go than there are seats,” said Victor Bennett, who studies the ticket resale market at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. He says scarcity is just one source of frustration.

“The other one is the buying experience. And it’s actually really hard to run a ticket exchange,” he said.

So even with the best technology, Bennett said putting something on sale and having millions flock to your website within seconds is going to leave a lot of people unhappy.

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