It’s no secret how I feel about Phish. After the incredible display of masterful musicianship witnessed in Vegas on Halloween, I thought the band deserved a well-articulated Thank You from the Phish community. So, here we are exalted and shouting a collective Thank You Phish!!!!
Vegas 2014 was everything we could have asked for. While the MGM venue itself could have been a little more organized, in general, the grounds were welcoming and our triumphant return to Sin City was a resounding success. The Halloween set was absolutely incredible and the way you guys orchestrated that entire shindig was awww-inspiring. It looked like all four of you were truly having a blast together! Still! After all of this time! Again… Thank You!!!
As fans of your music, we are just so lucky. We cannot fucking wait to do it all over again next year!
Now, let’s talk a little bit about your Phish ticketing system. After all of these years, the current system is debilitating for the true fans among us. I’m being serious when I say the old days of filling out envelopes and sending off checks and waiting for our paper tickets was a better system than the spam-rigged, Stubhub/Ticketmaster disaster that currently runs the marketplace. For an innovative band like Phish — a band that has already pioneered countless technologies (HD streaming of shows, app services and catalog access, etc.) — the next big project should be to disrupt the Scalper/Stubhub/Ticketmaster stranglehold. The whole situation is an awful mess that us true fans have to consistently navigate every time we want to simply snag a few tickets, for a few friends and family, to a few Phish shows.
Let’s see if we can change this… Here are some ideas we’ve been tossing around.
First, develop a system called “True Phan Priority”, or something like that.
a) Since you just unveiled a brand new version of your Live Phish iPhone/mobile app — that allows for fans to sign up for a monthly subscription to the entire Phish catalog from 2003 – 2014) — one could venture to guess that those that sign up for that service are true loyal fans.
b) Some of us have been using the same email address for our tickets and accounts since before the first breakup. Seriously. I’m sure your Database administrator can look up the age of our email addresses + the amount of show tickets that we originally purchased. Then, develop an intelligent algorithm that could weight our email addresses or accounts with a point system or some value. Shit, I have genius friends that can even help here, but seeing where you’ve taken streaming lately, I’m sure you guys can figure it out.
c) In essence, simply give us true fans a way to have at least some priority over the current Scalpers/Stubhub/Ticketmaster fiasco. Why are we still having to navigate through either a broken lottery system or a scalping mess? This isn’t fair to do to those of us that enjoy planning ahead of time.
At this point, you guys have been touring for five years straight again. For many of your tours (which are getting shorter and shorter), it’s becoming more common for a very large percentage of the crowd to know each other. We all just want to see Phish and dance together.
You see, the constant stories of how hard it is to simply snag a few tickets is turning people off from even trying to come to shows. It’s turning people off from even trying to get tickets. Which is the part that frustrates me most. When ticket on-sale days come around, and some of my dear friends and family say “What’s the use, the whole system is rigged,” I know something has gone terribly wrong.
In case you guys are currently a little too removed from how it’s going down for us, here’s how it’s working in 2014 for the true fan:
1) Phish announces a tour. Yay!
2) We put in for the lottery (most times it’s as many tickets as possible for as many shows as possible). Thousands and thousands of dollars that we are expected to have just “waiting” in our account to be charged.
3) Most of the time, very few of us get what we originally requested. Since a large portion of the fan base is becoming closer as time goes on (again), it’s harder and harder for the true fans to get in to the shows.
4) Next, we have to navigate a system that is clearly setup for us to lose. There are literally software applications that professional scalpers are using that Phish fans are battling. It’s a huge uphill battle. A win is usually the result of simply getting lucky.
Scalpers are deploying scalping applications that clog up all of the bandwidth that websites — like Ticketmaster, Live Nation and local auditorium websites — preemptively setup to handle the onslaught of traffic, on days where expected high ticket sales will take place. This still does nothing for on-sale times of Phish shows. The systems always crash for us fans. And somehow, no matter what, there are immediately hundreds of General Admission tickets (if there is a GA/floor) and premium seats available on Stubhub right as the shows sell-out.
This raises a lot of red flags to me. It seems like the online ticket sales marketplace is going unregulated and true Phish fans are suffering as a result.
Phish, it’s time to step in and help us.
The lottery does not work anymore and scalpers are winning. Some of your true fans simply cannot get tickets to shows when they become available and that’s affecting the amount of music they get to enjoy. Then, a lot of the time, tickets are either $20 or free right outside the door. This creates a scenario where true fans that may be a bit older these days, have real careers or families, that weren’t able to snag tickets directly when the tickets went on sale, just don’t go to the shows. Only to hear that tickets were readily available outside the venue.
This is what we call a broken system. Again, what you guys have done for all of us continues to reverberate in a powerful way on a daily basis. We have a beautiful new Live Phish mobile app. We can access your entire catalog on demand. We can stream, buffer and play songs. You provide us with glorious HD webcasts to a lot of your shows. You have updated your website. Given us a music/track download manager. Let’s fix this ticketing issue.
Maybe it won’t solve the entire online ticketing marketplace issues we always see… Or maybe it will… Perhaps it will simply alleviate some issues the core fan base has.
And that may just be all that is needed.