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The secondary ticketing market is worth $15 billion. How long will fans have to pay?
Artists and fans are the big losers as bot-powered scalpers make a killing.
- The secondary ticketing market is predicted to grow to $15.19 billion next year.
- Artists, athletes, management, and venues see none of this revenue—it all goes to scalpers and ticketing agencies.
- Some companies are likely in breach of anti-trust laws, but no one seems to be regulating the industry.
Nils Frahm hit another level in an already impressive career when recently performing at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The German composer and producer has played in clubs and festivals for years. Presenting during the LA Philharmonic's season affords Frahm new audiences and opportunities in arts organizations around the planet. The invitation was worth it; the amount of equipment one man plays in two hours is simply staggering.
Frahm's show had been sold out for months. Yet staring from the side of the stage, a good fifth of the venue was empty. Some subscribers failed to show—their loss. There was another reason for the absence, as per a post-show conversation with his management: the secondary ticketing market.
The online event ticketing market is expected to reach $68 billion by 2025. By next year the secondary market will bring in over $15 billion. None of that revenue goes to the artists, management, or venues. Fans pay the price.
Frahm isn't the only artist suffering such a fate. Bruce Springsteen has repeatedly expressed frustration with scalpers. His Broadway debut, Springsteen on Broadway, pulled in $106.8 million at the box office over its 58-week run, yet the show demanded the highest average ticket price on the secondary market in history: $1,789.
Bikini Kill fans were excited when the band announced its reunion shows. As expected, tickets sold out immediately. The problem is that as fans waited online (virtually) for $40-$45 tickets, Stubhub was already listing them for up to $900. In fact, the company now advertises with "Sold out just means get them at Stubhub." Not exactly the moral beacon for fan-artist relationships.
After Taylor Swift lost an estimated $150 million due to the secondary market on her 2015 tour, she did the unimaginable: She purposefully inflated ticket prices for non-verified fans. The $700 price tag ensured bots and scalpers could not profit from her fans. Yet it also meant that her shows did not sell out.
Ticket scalper makes millions through StubHub scheme (The Investigators with Diana Swain)
Crafty and commendable business move, but not sustainable. Thousands of actual fans were blocked from seeing her perform due to rampant and practically unregulated scalpers. According to a new report, it's going to get worse: Ticketing websites are being warned to prepare for 40 percent of their traffic coming from "bad bots." The cost of extra security protocols and maintenance will translate into higher fees on tickets, forcing fans to once again pay the inflated price.
The ticketing industry is practically unregulated. Though President Obama signed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act into law in 2016—which does not appear to be working—he also did the ticketing industry a disservice when his administration allowed the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster in 2010. Many experts agree that this is in violation of antitrust laws, but really, who's monitoring trusts when a few hundred thousand at Trump Hotel buys you insider access?
A little history about how we arrived here is in order. Trusts were all the rage in the 19th century. Corporations were given free access to acquire and consume whatever competition they chose. This became problematic when these companies grew more powerful than the government.
The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was the first step in mitigating the power of corporations that were crossing industries and determining prices. Specifically, the law was designed to prevent any company from having the ability to artificially raise prices by restricting supply or controlling trade.
Instead of catering to congressional oversight, corporations just became slicker. Along with Benjamin Harrison, who signed the Sherman Act into law, the next two presidents prosecuted a total of 18 antitrust cases over the next eleven years. Enter Teddy Roosevelt.
Taylor Swift performs at ANZ Stadium on November 02, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.
(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Over the course of his presidency, Roosevelt brought 44 antitrust suits to court. While the myth has him "for the people," Roosevelt was actually making sure that corporations would not acquire more power than elected officials. He also knew public sentiment was on his side. Offer too much power to a handful of companies and, as Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan, who presided over Roosevelt's most famous case against Standard Oil, wrote in his decision,
"The nation had been rid of human slavery, fortunately, as all now feel—but the conviction was universal that the country was in real danger from another kind of slavery sought to be fastened on the American people; namely, the slavery that would result from aggregation of capital in the hands of a few individuals and corporations controlling, for their own profit and advantage exclusively, the entire business of the country, including the production and sale of the necessaries of life."
Many were aghast when presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren suggested breaking up tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google, because their power stifles competition and innovation. She's actually just revisiting Rooseveltian politics. She's also right, as Columbia law professor Tim Wu suggests in his latest book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age.
In a span of just years, Facebook acquired 67 companies, Amazon 91, and Google 214. Branching out into seemingly divergent industries—look, we're really a self-driving car company!—causes the public to overlook the fact that nearly all of Google's profits come from advertising revenue. Having a diverse portfolio of pet projects allow technology companies to masquerade as swingers while consolidating power and controlling supply, exactly what the Sherman Act was designed to protect against.
Why you can't get tickets: The Ticket Game (CBC Marketplace)
Across industries, Wu writes, the biggest corporations are dominating: Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors control northward of 70 percent of global beer sales; after breaking up AT&T's monopoly, they've now emerged next to Verizon as a giant, purchasing DirecTV and Time Warner along the way; rampant criminality in the pharmaceutical industry allows companies to increase the price of drugs by 6,000 percent on a whim. Martin Shkreli might be in jail, but Daraprim remains $750 a pill, up from its initial cost of $13.50.
Wu includes Ticketmaster in his list of problematic companies. Live Nation owns, leases, operates, or has exclusive booking rights to 157 venues worldwide. That forces all of those shows to be managed by Ticketmaster. While Ticketmaster claims that it wants to circumvent the secondary market, the truth is they lost the race to Stubhub. That didn't stop Ticketmaster from acquiring the reseller, TicketsNow, for $265 million in 2008.
Interestingly, Ticketmaster considered selling the company the following year in fear of antitrust laws while being courted by Live Nation. Worry not—TicketsNow remains a wholly owned, independently-operated subsidiary. Yet the bond remains strong, as Ticketmaster was accused of recruiting scalpers in 2018.
I don't know any music fan (and I didn't even touch sports) who hasn't been frustrated by the ticket-buying process. The connection between a musician and fan is sacred. Having attended hundreds of concerts in my lifetime, I've experienced some of the most incredible experiences there. The sense of community and camaraderie is transcendent.
Once again, the capitalistic inclinations of the few undermine a human ritual. A few shady players have wedged themselves between fans and artists, while presenters and ticketing agencies conspire to create a new trust that plows forward unregulated. The connection between artist and fan severed, the majority in this cycle remain powerless. In plain language, it sucks and no governmental body is doing anything about it.
Roosevelt was aware of something important. He knew that if public sentiment grew loud enough, the pitchforks would come out. He wasn't breaking apart capitalism but attempting to save it. The regulation of industries was to ensure corporations would still profit; he wasn't stifling them. It's not certain we'll make the same choice this time, but until this elephant is addressed, fans will continue to lose.
Why music affects everyone's emotions differently
How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.
- A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
- It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
- The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
The ocean depths are home to many creatures that some consider to be unnatural.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU2NzY4My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTUwMzg0NX0.BTK3zVeXxoduyvXfsvp4QH40_9POsrgca_W5CQpjVtw/img.png?width=980" id="b6fb0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2739ec50d9f9a3bd0058f937b6d447ac" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1512" data-height="2224" />
What benefit does this find have for science? And is it as evil as it looks?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7XqcvwWp" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="8506fcd195866131efb93525ae42dec4"> <div id="botr_7XqcvwWp_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7XqcvwWp-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The discovery of a new species is always a cause for celebration in zoology. That this is the discovery of an animal that inhabits the deeps of the sea, one of the least explored areas humans can get to, is the icing on the cake.</p><p>Helen Wong of the National University of Singapore, who co-authored the species' description, explained the importance of the discovery:</p><p>"The identification of this new species is an indication of just how little we know about the oceans. There is certainly more for us to explore in terms of biodiversity in the deep sea of our region." </p><p>The animal's visual similarity to Darth Vader is a result of its compound eyes and the curious shape of its <a href="https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/research/sjades2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" style="">head</a>. However, given the location of its discovery, the bottom of the remote seas, it may be associated with all manner of horrifically evil Elder Things and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Great Old Ones</a>. <em></em></p>
Answering the question of who you are is not an easy task. Let's unpack what culture, philosophy, and neuroscience have to say.
- Who am I? It's a question that humans have grappled with since the dawn of time, and most of us are no closer to an answer.
- Trying to pin down what makes you you depends on which school of thought you prescribe to. Some argue that the self is an illusion, while others believe that finding one's "true self" is about sincerity and authenticity.
- In this video, author Gish Jen, Harvard professor Michael Puett, psychotherapist Mark Epstein, and neuroscientist Sam Harris discuss three layers of the self, looking through the lens of culture, philosophy, and neuroscience.
The newly discovered galaxies are 62x bigger than the Milky Way.
- Two recently discovered radio galaxies are among the largest objects in the cosmos.
- The discovery implies that radio galaxies are more common than previously thought.
- The discovery was made while creating a radio map of the sky with a small part of a new radio array.