Soapbox: November 4th, 2008

How do ticket touts sleep at night? asks Alison Lee.They say the early bird catches the worm… but the early bird also has the upper hand when it comes to the distinctly more lucrative matter of concert tickets sales.On the 11th October, 12,000 people logged on to the Ticketmaster site simultaneously, in a desperate attempt to snap up tickets to AC/DC’s first gig here in twelve years. And some of these tickets have already emerged on Ebay at starting bids of 549 quid. All for the chance to see some pensioners dressed up as schoolchildren singing about highways to hell?Even though our economic boom is receding faster than Noel Gallagher’s hairline, it seems people still have money to splash about when it comes to gigs.Yes my friends, as we all know, getting your paws on concert tickets is no easy matter. This is because you don’t just have fellow fans to compete with as you send your fingers into spasm frantically clicking your way into a queue on Ticketmaster. You also have the touts to race. These soulless money grabbers hike ticket prices up sky-high and then sell them on, blatantly taking advantage of genuine music-lovers. Frankly, that is just plain mean.Not that Irish concert-promoters are much better. They’ve never had a shining reputation for good customer care, or for being anything other than penny-pinching con-artists, for that matter. For example, they allowed O2 commandeer our beloved Point Depot, and now O2 customers get to buy tickets for concerts there 48 hours before they go on general release.And if you’re on Meteor, or Vodafone, and you really want a concert ticket? Tough shit, I’m afraid. You just have to wait your turn. Or switch networks, of course.The plague of hype surrounding gigs has infected our summer festivals too. Passes to the annual piss-up that is Oxegen have been on sale since the 8th of August at the hefty price of €224.50 and Electric Picnic tickets came on the market on October 10th- cheaper, but not by all that much, at 99 quid apiece. And the line-ups haven’t even been announced yet.But are the winds of change starting to blow? Last year God knows how many people ended up kicking themselves when Oxegen tickets were sold off the week before the festival at rock-bottom prices. Three-day festival passes went for as little as €90! How would you have felt if you had rushed off and bought tickets at the official price of €224 with the intent of cleaning up by selling them on at a profit? Rather stupid, I’d imagine. But serves you right for being so greedy.In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last six months, we’re in a recession, folks! Stand up for your rights as consumers and demand concert tickets at reasonable prices and don’t settle for anything less, even if you’re one of those people who insist on saying things like ‘music is my life, man’. You can have music for free at the Student Bar. Ok, so bands like East 17 and the Vengaboys have played the Student Bar, but think of them as Lidl-grade music. Times are tough, we just have to learn to economise.