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Ticket Mania: Beatlemania Around Taylor Swift

I’m going to question this Beatlemania-like hysteria that recently hovered over Taylor Swift concert tickets as if Paul McCartney himself hadn’t recently delivered, most likely, his last concert in North America. If I were cynical (LOL), I would ask how many bots it would take to create demand which exceeds a sufficient mathematical panic threshold so that actual fans would become so emotionally distraught that they would effectively pay any amount to acquire tickets. How does a monopoly music concert delivery system realize exponentially higher prices than conceivable, weeks before? What exactly does this witchcraft of “dynamic pricing” do? I need to go no further than to examine a similar situation myself. Self-reflection is a wonderful exercise of discovery.

I paid $900 for a pair of Bruce Springsteen concert tickets for March 2023. Through self-reflection, I ask, “Why?” After all, as a native of New Jersey, I’ve been dutifully attending Springsteen concerts for well over 40 years, but for some reason, at age 60, I’m willing to pay an order of magnitude more than I have for the previous two dozen concerts. Upon reflection, the reasons are many but include the possibility that Bruce may retire! And I love Bruce! However, $900 for two tickets is ridiculous, especially since they aren’t good seats. In truth, I was caught up in the fanatical feverish rush of contrived scarcity more precisely designed than the web app I used to pay for the tickets. In other words, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get tickets later if I didn’t buy them right when they were available on the screen, in front of my face. And if I could get them later, those tickets would be even more expensive. At least, that is my hypothesis. There was an assumption innate in my thinking when spending an outlandish amount of USD to see “The Boss” for the 21st time that the overall buying situation is real. I believed I was competing against many other customers who wanted the same tickets. That is because the monopoly ticket vendor has created an auction-like atmosphere without the auction room where the potential buyer can see the competition and the number of actual competitors. This causes an amplification of anxiety of having no idea of the number of real competitors or being able to see those competitors. I was at a distinct disadvantage in every respect.


So, I’m postulating that it wouldn’t take more than a small number of bots to create that anxiety-driven panic in the mind of a 17-year-old girl (or anyone else) that is similar to a drunken/high state where all inhibitions, and rationale in general, regarding money dissolve and their fathers with the credit cards capitulate. An “unexpected” multi-hour wait would serve to amplify that anxiety.

An interesting and seemingly totally unrelated example would be what Scott Boras, a professional baseball agent, does every November by creating fictitious demand for free-agent players he represents. He has been successful in manipulating some of the wealthiest businesspeople in human history. Think of the falsity behind an offer from Team #1 for a superstar shortstop in 2002 that caused Team #2 to skyrocket the price for to over $250M for 10 years; the offer from Team #1 was barely more than $150M. Now consider the concert ticket buyer situation: What chance does the average (even sophisticated) buyer have to understand the actual value of a ticket under the conditions described above?

If the core principle behind “free enterprise” is that the value of a product is equal to what a buyer will pay for that product, then the buyer must be real or the entire system collapses. So, if the number of “buyers” was contrived by even a small amount and the wait was purpose-built, that could create a panic buying situation; this is the effective inverse of people hoarding toilet paper in February 2020. I would suggest either by inside information, hardcore investigation (hacking the relevant databases), or subpoena, if necessary, the actual list of legitimate buyers attempting to purchase tickets and the respective percentage of fake buyers can be understood. I am guessing that Elon Musk would agree with my point as he was so (rightly) convinced that 25% of Twitter users were fake.

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