Resellers are driving up ticket prices

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Resellers are driving up ticket prices

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Ticketing is a serious business for culture hounds, and some are willing to pay extra for performances with star-studded casts. As a result, a new channel for selling these tickets is emerging, and dealers are making considerable margins out of the situation.

The phenomenon appeared with the creation of new distribution channels where individuals can sell their tickets to others. One platform is Ticket Bay, which opened in May last year. It connects individual sellers and buyers, and takes a 10 percent commission from the deals users make through the service. This means the service operator gets more profit when the tickets are sold at a higher price.

On April 19, tickets for the upcoming musical “Sweeney Todd” went on sale at 2 p.m. The musical has been creating a buzz for its all-star cast of Jo Seung-woo and Ock Joo-hyun. All 6,000 tickets were sold out in four minutes via the official distributor, but they soon reappeared on the resale market at prices of 100,000 won ($85) In addition, tickets for “Laundry,” starring musical actor Hong Kwang-ho, have been sold for 250,000 won, five times higher than the original price. Tickets for the musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” have sold for more than 100,000 won higher than the original price.

Currently, tickets for the musicals “Mata Hari” starring Ock and Leo of K-pop boy group VIXX; “Hedwig” starring Byun Yo-han; and “Notre-Dame de Paris” featuring Hong Kwang-ho are being bought and sold the most via secondhand distribution channels.

In addition to musicals, this phenomenon applies to other types of performances. For a solo concert of Kim Junsu from the boy group JYJ, ticket prices soared to 750,000 won on Ticket Bay, far exceeding the original price of 132,000 won. And for a concert of the K-pop boy group Bangtan Boys, the resale price surpassed 1 million won, while the original price was 110,000 won.

“In the past, people sold their tickets in cases where they couldn’t go to the concert,” said a person who works at a musical production company. “However, individual sellers nowadays try to make profits out of it.”

While for small-scale shows dumping often occurs, where tickets are sold up to 80 percent below the original price, for star-studded performances the tickets are often resold at prices that far exceed the original price.

Production companies have a rather negative view of the phenomenon. “Audiences are paying exorbitant extra fees while they should be able to enjoy performances at appropriate prices,” said Ryu Mi-hyun, the producer of “Laundry”, adding that it hinders a healthy theater industry.

“Irrelevant dealers intercept massive margins,” said Song Han-saem, who works at the production company Shownote.

C-Jes Entertainment, which represents singer Kim Junsu, warned in announcement on its website that ticket sales through any channel other than its official distributor, Melon Ticket, are illegal. The company asked fans to report any unauthorized sales by sending a screen capture and any available information to the company.

On the other hand, Ticket Bay holds that its service performs the function of adjusting prices. “There are tickets with higher prices but there are also those that are lower than the original price,” the company said. “Prices will settle soon according to the needs of supply and demand.”

In fact, some within the theater industry also support secondhand ticket distributors. One play director, who wanted to remain anonymous, said, “Actually, we get anxious if our performance is not sold on secondhand distributing channels because it means our show is not attractive.”

An employee of OD Musical, which produces “Sweeney Todd” said, “It is hard to find legal measures to block secondhand distributors,” adding, “As long as some people don’t abuse the service, it is quite positive that our performance is on the secondhand distributor because it proves that people are showing great interest in our show.”

“Price elasticity is inevitable depending on the fandom,” Yeo Jun-sang, a marketing professor at Dongguk University, said. “If the side-effects of the secondhand distributors, such as stockpiling, can be minimized, the distributing service can produce new cultural and economic value.”

BY CHOI MIN-WOO [kim.hyejun@joongang.co.kr]
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