Perry G. Brown is pissed.
He went through the process of trying to get tickets through Ticketmaster for a popular show, and in spite of being on line at the start of the sale, got a sold out status. But tickets were immediately available through secondary market (shall we call them legal scalpers?)
And all of you know this from your own experience.
I included Rollercon MVP passes above to grab some of you; even though they are sold out now you still have a chance and won’t pay over the preset fee, and I will explain here later.
Many of you know I have been in ticketing for years and years. I started BASS Tickets in northern California and later became Executive Vice President, sales and marketing, for Ticketmaster in its formative years.
BASS and Ticketmaster were part of the initial distribution for venues, sports, and producers. The beauty of the systems was that you could restrict the amount of tickets any individual purchased; screened the outlets (i.e. record stores, etc) to see if the procedures were being violated and more. Should have been perfect.
Well, the system worked when promoters like Bill Graham were involved. When an event went on sale, almost no tickets were held back, except a limited amount by contract with the bands, record companies, etc; and never the first ten rows; those were for the fans. On one famous occasion Bill went in line to where Grateful Dead tickets were going on sale. He wanted to make certain that those in lines were fans and not hired buyers. So he asked those people to name three Dead songs, and when they couldn’t he pulled them out of line. He also required that none of our employees or store managers, etc, could buy first.
But not everyone was Bill. Promoters throughout the country held back tickets and would sell them to brokers at a price above the face value, and in most cases report them to the agents and acts as sold, and hold back the excess. (Promoters of very popular acts worked on a percentage of the revenue and would look for ways to increase their revenue).
Today things are completely different, and I will try to explain. And none of these pertains to Brown Paper Tickets as they operate on an entirely different basis.
When Ticketron (not all remember) was the national ticketing company promoters were charged a small “inside” fee on each ticket sold, and the consumer paid a relatively small service charge. When Ticketmaster came into the marketplace, promoters and producers were offered a different deal: most would pay nothing (depending on their size and imporantce), again based on potential volume of an exclusive arrangement for all tickets sold away from the venue or promoters box office, they might receive full computerization, ticket selling machines, and a rebate based on anticipated ticket sales. Thus the ticket company became like the concessions at a ball park or arena: in order to have the contract, a certain amount had to be guaranteed to the venue (ever wondered why you pay $10 for a beer or hot dog?)
And eventually the agents, acts, etc wanted a piece of the service fee, so today you may find ticket prices of $150 with a service fee of $30 or more (sometimes, much more).
And instead of having a few hundred stores and phone room selling tickets when a performance goes on sale, now you have tens of thousands of potential buyers who can order on their pcs, mobile devices, etc. So you depend on the luck of your attempt to purchase. And to further complicate the buy, now the primary ticket distribution system in most cases (Ticketmaster) owns Ticket Now, a secondary ticket seller (Bill Graham is spinning in his grave) and there you go. So if you have $1500 or $2000 to spare you might get an Adele ticket.
And let us talk about the way that MVP tickets are sold through BPT. Between now and July tickets that can not be used will be listed through Rollercon for other buyers as all are presently sold out. And they will be resold at face value, and since the pass holders are required to show identification at Rollercon (driver’s license), the passes cannot just be sold to someone else as each one has the buyer’s name on it.
So you say, why doesn’t Brown Paper Tickets handle these events with its no charge to producers, 99 cents service fee plus 3 1/2% to cover the credit card (on the $150 ticket described above, the BPT service fee would be $6.24). So why don’t these venues use BPT that has all the ticket selling capabilities of Ticketmaster? The answer is money; BPT decided a long time ago that they would help the producers and ticket buyers (see our doers, our community projects like blood drives, etc) and not put up huge sums (some venues get guarantees of $1,000,000 to handle their tickets exclusively). and all the Roller Derby Leagues, clubs, festivals, etc and etc that have made the company one of the world’s largest (and better customer service than any) was a risky way to go for President William S. Jordan and CEO Steve Butcher. There is a satisfaction in what is being provided. And everyone in the company follows the same path.
And although I am not a very religious person, I feel I am finally doing penance for my part in the whole mechanism…..thank you Brown Paper Tickets for giving me happiness in the ticket world.
I have a lot to be thankful for in my life.
But today I will confine it to Roller Derby.
It has been a great thing for my life. I took over the game my father invented, and further developed it as a great entertainment for America, Canada, and Mexico. It was a business built to entertain the public, but along the way I met and employed some of the greatest men and women athletes that I could have known, was a real fan of the game and enjoyed with the audience the fury and excitement and speed of these great banked track skaters.
And I made a living! Actually not as good as when I became part of the ticketing industry, but at 26 I worked for myself and employed a hundred people, and saw America and met so many people in so many regions. Our games were seen on 110 tv stations, we played at (and sold out) all the major arenas and some of the major stadia. And I made one huge mistake: running this enterprise as a family business with no partners and when the economy sunk us, I had no one to turn to for additional resources, so I had to shut it down.
I am proud that all the skaters and employees were paid; we supplied all uniforms, skates, per diem and medical injuries coverage (paid while off), transportation and hotels when on the road….a decent salary for the 60’s and 70’s, and probably the first sport to have profit sharing for the employees…..when we shut down, the skaters and employees (to their surprise) received a payout of anywhere from $5000 to $60,000, depending on their pay scale and length of employment And our ticket prices: $1 to $3. Larry Smith started his business with his pay out…..some blew tens of thousands of dollars partying…and this was 1973.
So I went into the ticket distribution business (never scalping), and what I learned in promoting Roller Derby carried over into BASS Tickets and eventually Ticketmaster. And including Brown Paper Tickets (the best!), that covered the next 40 years of my work life.
So 10 years ago Gary Powers, after starting (and maintaining) the National Roller Derby Hall of Fame, hosted the 70th anniversary of Roller Derby dinner in Chicago, and who showed up for the evening but dewy-eyed Val Capone and the fledgling Windy City Rollers, and we all saw their game the next night, and that started a period of revitalization of my life and association with Roller Derby.
I felt so welcome and was invited to Rollercon in Las Vegas (and Judi provided over 300 pair of her Bonjour Fleurette flower slippers,featured on Sex and the City and Oprah), and Loretta Behrens and I addressed the attendees about the old and new days…..then I was invited to WFTDA nationals in Portland (my home and the home of my father, the creator of Derby and once again the welcome mat was out.
I was invited to the Bay Area Derby girls games and went when I could, and of course to Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sacramento for area games. And the nationals in Chicago (where I had gone to college) were a real treat.
Then the bottom kind of dropped out with weird instances that I have no desire to relate. I found I was resented (and even hated) by some (most I didn’t know) because I represented THAT Roller Derby, I guess. When I got over the incident, I just continued on seeing and supporting the people in the game, and they know who I am and how I relate to today….I have over 12,000 friends and followers on facebook and twitter and many more on my blog.
But this is not about me and my travails. I have seen very specifically in the last few months statements by at least one person that I completely respect, that modern derby has no relationship to Leo or my game, and was created by the women as a flat track game that empowers women in sports…..and guess what, I have no argument with that. I have no claim on the game as it exists today. For whatever reason if that is important, then I gladly acknowledge what you believe……I guess I am surprised that the name Roller Derby was attached to the game.
But I am an individual who loves the sport my father created. I am a fan. If there are aspects I don’t enjoy, I will say them. Understand, I have no power to influence or change anything, but I do have the right to express myself.
roller derby is on the greatest growth spurt in recent years; the issue in many leagues appears to be decreasing attendance. I am not the enemy. I advise skaters. I would love to help everyone increase attendance and other aspects of the promotion of the leagues. That is one of my functions of work and the seminars at Rollercon. and why Brown Paper Tickets encourages me to work on community projects like the blood drives (in three major areas next year!).
You have every right to not like me or want to be a friend…but please make sure you are not tilting at windmills. I love you all.
rules of the game, 1970
I met Steve Wozniak at the US Festival, perhaps the greatest collection of contemporary bands in 1982 and 1983. I believe almost 60 of the best bands and performers from the Clash to the Grateful Dead to Van Halen to Willie Nelson to the Pretenders and the Police and on and on appeared in the two year run over a total of 7 days near San Bernardino, California. Look it up.
Because David Zimmerman from BASS Tickets had heard how unhappy Woz had been with the way Ticketron had handled the sales in 1982, I was able to sign up the Festival for the fledging Ticketmaster entrance into Southern California in 1983. The impetus that the million dollars in advertising generated (always mentioning Ticketmaster as the phone and outlet source) really made us known in that area.
So I went both years, all days, but I must confess I didn’t listen to all 12 hours or more every day. And that is when I met Woz who solely created, financed, and presented the events.
This amazing man created the products that became Apple. Apparently, Steve Jobs liked the attention (I am seeing the movie this weekend), but really had nothing to do with creating the Apple 1, 2, etc. And Woz eventually left the company but today represents them with visits all around the globe.
What I found out in talking to him that he (of course) had watched Roller Derby on TV in the Bay Area where he grew up (and lives today), and he was quite a fan. I understand that he has shown up at various Derby events, and even skated on the banked track. Of course I got him a copy of “Roller Derby to Rollerjam”.
In the limited interplay that I have with him, I have found him to be a warm, accessible human being. He is a friend on facebook (and 32 of my friends are also mutual friends…..Misty (Pia Mess) Greer, why am I not surprised that you are one also). I also follow him on twitter where he seems to be traveling the world incessantly (all departure and arrival cities are listed), and he drives his Tesla to Morgan Hill to recharge and enjoy the delightful cuisine of this quaint village (really, Morgan Hill?).
So when you purchase an ipad or iphone, realize that at the start of the largest company in the world, there was this delightful man, a Roller Derby fan.