Kid Rock and Tom Waits do not approve.
Michigan’s House of Representatives passed a law on Thursday decriminalizing ticket scalping, a measure opposed by both artists. Rep. Tim Kelly, who sponsored the bill which passed 66 to 42, sees it as simply righting a wrong.
“I think this is an innocuous practice that all of us have been involved in at one time or another,” he told MLive Media Group’s Jonathan Oosting. “I don’t see any wrong in it or harm in it. It’s a restoration of a bit of a civil liberty.”
But the musicians see it doing something far worse: letting the free market run amok. Kid Rock, a Michigan native, wants his fans—all of them—to be able to afford his shows and the secondary market allows scalpers to drive up ticket prices, he argued recently in the Detroit Free Press.
By last summer, I had had enough. For my Best Night Ever Tour, we offered fans $20 tickets in all sections, and then on top of that, we had $4 beers and free parking. To keep those cheap tickets available for fans, we offered them as “paperless” tickets, because it’s the only way to combat scalpers. We sold out eight concerts at DTE Energy Music Theatre, and we would have done more shows if the schedule had allowed. I think that proves that fans have no problem with their interests being protected.
The current law is the only one we have on the books to go after these guys who are destroying ticket prices. You can’t begin to protect fans by taking away the one and only protection they have. If lawmakers look back on their first concert, I bet they weren’t paying $1,000, $500 or even $300 — that’s garbage.
By decriminalizing scalping, he said, artists will lose control of ticket prices. Singer-songwriter Tom Waits agrees, his manager told lawmakers last month. “There will be artists who will not perform in Michigan if this bill is enacted,” his manager Stuart Ross said. “I represent one.”
But artists who want to keep prices low could be doing their fans a disservice, Adam Davidson reported for the New York Times magazine in June.
As an industry leader, with access to nearly limitless data, Ticketmaster can determine fairly precisely just how much fans are willing to pay for every kind of show. Generally speaking, [Ticketmaster North America President Jared] Smith says, artists who charged a lot more for the best 1,000 or so seats would reduce the incentive for scalpers to buy these tickets.
Fourteen other states also ban such sales, a researcher for the Heartland Institute wrote in November. The Michigan bill now goes to the state Senate for consideration.