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Wednesday // February 3, 2016

You want to see Coldplay or the Foo Fighters. Or maybe your kids want to see Justin Bieber and you’re being the cool parent. Picture yourself, credit card in hand, waiting for the minute a concert ticket goes on sale. Exactly on time, you hit that BUY button but guess what? You’re shut out. The show is already sold out.

Ever wonder how entire arenas sell out so quickly?

New York’s attorney general Eric Schneiderman said in a report released last Thursday that more than half of tickets to many events are held for industry insiders or are unavailable to the general public. Investigators reported that on average, 16% are reserved for venue employees, artists and promoters, while 38% is reserved for special presale to certain groups like those that hold a particular credit card.

In 2013, 64% of tickets were held back for VIPS or sold to special groups for a Maroon 5 concert. That’s only 36% of tickets going on sale to the general public. But that doesn’t even come close to a Justin Bieber concert in Fresno, CA, where 92% of tickets were held back entirely. Out of 12,000 seats, only 940 were available on the official sale date.

The problem is not simply supply and demand. The report cited that in 2014, a single broker purchased 1,012 tickets to U2’s Madison Square Garden show when the tour first went on sale. By the end of that day, the same broker and a partner had purchased more than 15,000 tickets for U2’s shows across North America. Tickets that were then resold for over 1,000% of face value on resale sites like StubHub.

Presales and ticket brokers aside, if a fan is actually able to buy tickets direct, they still won’t be paying face value. Venues and ticket vendors like Ticketmaster add on an average of 21% in fees on top of the ticket for “convenience charges”, “service fees”, or “processing fees”. Thus making it impossible for an average concert goer to ever purchase a ticket for face value.

“Ticketing, to put it bluntly, is a fixed game,” the report said.