Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment regarding the recent news about the price gouging for the last run of the Tragically Hip, a well-loved Canadian rock band out of Kingston, Ontario.
For background, let me quickly explain what’s been happening: The Tragically Hip recently announced that it’s lead singer and front man, Gord Downie has sadly been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and will die. The band decided that a last Canada-wide tour this summer was in order – a class act from the band, and a brave gesture from Gord.
The tickets went on sale and were quickly snatched up by organizations like Stubhub and Ticketmaster, who are now re-selling the tickets at highly inflated prices. Fans of the band are not happy about this to say the least, sighting that this shows complete greed over what will be the band’s last concert tour ever, and forces loyal followers of the band to pay exorbitant prices to see them one last time.  It’s not how we envisioned this Canadian iconic bands last tour to go down.
This is all true, but there’s a few things that don’t sit right with me about all of this. Agree or disagree as you see fit.
  • every party in this situation has the freedom to do exactly what they want. The ticket resellers can buy up huge volumes of tickets because the purchasing system allows it to happen (they’re in business to make money, don’t forget), the ‘scalpers’ can jack up the prices because they know people will pay (supply and demand), and the fans can decide if they want to pay the market rate to see the band one last time. If they do, they become unwitting participants in the price increases.
  • the bands management should have seen this as a potential outcome when the announcements were made, and should have known that this was going to happen. They could have offered to sell the tickets only at the actual box offices where the band will be playing, and limiting the number of tickets any one person could purchase…but they didn’t.
  • the band could have offered to play one or two final shows in a large open-air venue for free, or offer the profits up to cancer research or something classy like that. Maybe they will.  Maybe they could have done a great Canadian deed and offered a concert benefiting the families and businesses in Fort McMurray.
  • no one HAS to pay $2,000 for tickets. This whole thing has dissolved down to greed and selfishness both on the part of the scalpers and on the fans who would pay these prices.  If we all decided that we’d only pay face value and not a penny more, there would be no market for the scalpers.
ACID TEST: If the tickets were put up to auction at face value and they were bid up to $2,000, would we still be as outraged? Would we still call people ‘scum-bags’?
My 2 cents worth. I would love to see the band play their last concert in Kingston, Ontario, but I probably won’t.
My prayers go out to Gord Downie, his family and the band.