Online scalpers are selling tickets to Adele’s two Seattle shows for more than $5,000 — a practice the singer tried to put a stop to in Britain. It’s all too common here.
Adele has broken sales records with her new album, “25,” but little noticed outside the concert business has been her war against ticket scalping.
For her world tour next year, Adele has teamed with Songkick, a site that specializes in ticket sales through artists’ websites and fan clubs, to manage thousands of her tickets and prevent as many as possible from ending up in the hands of scalpers.
For Adele’s tour — which sold out in Europe, and for which tickets went on sale in North America on Dec. 17 — Songkick has sold 235,000 tickets through her website, Adele.com. By tracking the customers who tried to place orders, the company said, it was able to block 53,000 sales to known or likely scalpers.
That wasn’t of much help to Seattle fans.
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While according to one estimate, Songkick’s efforts saved Adele’s fans more than $6.3 million in markups on secondary ticketing sites in Britain, the company’s control is more limited in North America, where for some shows it handled as few as 8 percent of the available seats.
When tickets to the North American shows went on sale Thursday, fans on social media complained about technical problems and tickets that appeared to sell out in minutes, before they could finish logging in.
StubHub, one of the largest secondary ticket markets, lists some Adele tickets for as much as $11,000. Tickets on StubHub for Adele’s July 25 and 26 concerts at KeyArena in Seattle have been listed at more than $5,000.
The scalping epidemic isn’t limited to the pop world.
“Pacific Northwest Ballet, the 5th Avenue, the Paramount — we’ve all had to deal with it,” said Gary Tucker, a spokesperson for PNB, whose new version of “The Nutcracker” is running now.
Scalpers, Tucker said, are “a royal pain,” both for ticket buyers and performing-arts organizations, which sometimes wind up in the awkward position of explaining that a patron has been duped.
“People will come to a show with tickets they paid $500 for when they’re normally $68 and then will say, ‘Oh, I have VIP tickets,’ ” he said. “I’m sorry to tell them that they don’t — they aren’t VIP tickets. They’re just normal tickets.
“So many of those sites are absolutely misleading and inflate prices so obscenely that patrons tend to think poorly of the presenter, not often realizing that the money is not going to the artists.”
In June, Songkick, which began as primarily a site for concert listings, merged with CrowdSurge, whose specialty is ticketing for artist fan clubs.
The company’s work with Adele also arrives as the scalping market — estimated at $8 billion a year — comes under increasing scrutiny and criticism.
In April, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a measure to ban “ticket bot” software to fight computerized bulk-ticket buyers.
The Washington Attorney General’s Office says it could pursue cases against ticket-bot users in other states.
“Even if you don’t have your server equipment here, you can be sued by the state,” said Peter Lavallee, a spokesperson for the attorney general. “Are you putting yourself into the stream of commerce here? If so, you could expect to be hauled into court by an aggrieved party.”
StubHub, which is owned by eBay, is headquartered in San Francisco.
Lavallee said that if StubHub bought tickets for Adele’s KeyArena show by using bots before reselling them for thousands of dollars, the state attorney general could investigate. “If it’s a matter of using ticket-bot software,” he said, “that’s something we’d absolutely be interested in.”
This month, the New York attorney general looked into resale listings on sites like StubHub for Bruce Springsteen shows. In Britain, Coldplay, Elton John and Mumford & Sons have all recently spoken out against the sophisticated methods used by scalpers to obtain and resell tickets online.
“It’s not the way it used to be,” said Vivian Phillips, a spokeswoman for Seattle Theatre Group, which runs the Paramount, Moore and Neptune theaters. “It’s not about a guy across the street holding two tickets for sale. Technology has taken that over; it’s much more sophisticated.”
Some fans who bought tickets for last month’s Little Big Town show at the Paramount through secondary websites discovered when they arrived that their tickets were bogus. Though it was a slightly different scenario than what’s happening with Adele’s tickets, Phillips said, in both cases “the consumer is the one who is negatively impacted.”