Ticketmaster & Ticket Touts, I F****ng Hate You.

A couple of weeks ago Michael Jackson announced that he was going to perform twenty dates at the O2 arena. I was very excited about being given the opportunity to see one of my musical heroes once more.

I’ve been a big fan of Michael Jackson since “Thriller” came out in 1982 and I was lucky enough to see him at Wembley Stadium for the opening night of his “Bad” tour in the summer of  ’88. I was sixteen years old and queued for twelve and a half hours to see my idol,  It still marks as one of the best days of my life so far. I managed to get to the front of the crowd and I’ll never forget that atmosphere. I have also been to see him on other occasions 1992 and 1997 and each time it has been amazing but none as magical as my first concert.

Each time I bought a ticket, It seemed to be simply calling Wembley Stadium, and within a couple of weeks I’d have my tickets and then I could look forward to the big day safe in the knowledge that the ticket was in my house. Now of course, It’s very different.

As soon as this new tour was announced, I registered for the pre-sale window which allowed “real fans” to buy tickets a few days before they went on sale to the general public, as soon as I received my code I went online in the vein attempt to buy two tickets for myself and my best mate Chris (he went with me to the ’97 concert). Could I get any tickets though?

No sodding chance.  Ticketmaster, the company in charge of ticket distribution, were a joke. Not only was I unable to log on to the site, but I also couldn’t ring them ( you know, the old fashioned way, like back in the day when you could actually speak with somebody on the phone.) Four bloody days I tried to book these tickets before the general public sale, in these four days it was failure after failure. So I tried again at 7am on the day the tickets went on general sale, once more I was unable to complete the purchase and all tickets to all shows (including the extra dates well into 2010) were gone within four hours.

So out of interest, I logged onto Ebay to see what the tickets were selling for, and this is where I started to get even more pissed off. There were hundreds of tickets for sale and every one was going for more than fives face value with one pair up for the astonishing figure of £10,000 . Ten bloody Grand. Now the strange thing was that many of these sellers had only recently opened accounts and only had a couple of feedbacks. Another problem, these tickets weren’t even in the sellers possession. The buyer had to give over his money,  and then the seller would send the tickets via special delivery when they themselves received them from Ticketmaster. This could be upto ten days before the concert date. I can imagine all shades of shit hitting the fan with this arrangement. I started “watching” these items, not with the intention of buying but I wanted to see what people were willing to pay.

Well I was very pleased to see that a lot of them didn’t sell, many of them didn’t even reach reserve. A few re-listed with a much cheaper “buy it now” price than previous (sometimes cheaper by £200.) I hate to admit to a certain amount of glee at these at these poor souls not raking in as much profit as they had hoped.

So basically these tickets sold out very quickly to people who were more interested in making a quick buck than seeing Michael Jackson. I was under the impression that ticket touts were being clamped down on,  but I suppose that hasn’t happened. They only care about selling their stock and if arseholes are buying tickets and selling them off at stupid prices, then tough shit eh?

For the first time, I am unable to see my music hero when he tours over here and I’m gutted,  although I suppose I shouldn’t be too upset. After all the bloke is fifty years old and is well past his “best before” date. He simply cannot produce the same magic he did back in’88 or even ’92, and I would hate my memories of these days to be tarnished. I want to remember him as the great performer that he was.


Why I don’t bother using Torrent sites anymore.

A few years ago I discovered the world of torrenting, first of all through p2p sites like Limewire and Kazaa and then later Pirate Bay and the utorrent app. Back then I was very new to the internet and I had an old second hand PC with just a 4GB hard drive, I also had a dial up internet and would wait several hours for just one or two mp3’s. and even then you couldn’t be sure that the file would contain what it said on the tin.

Well I got my fingers bitten once when Limewire, my own raging hormones and naievety led me to download what I was led to believe was a naked picture of the lovely Gates McFadden aka Doctor Crusher. However, when I opened up the file, my computer just went crazy and opened up several windows of hardcore porn and then it shut down and I was never able to start that PC ever again. I lost all my data (in hindsight, I know a lot more now and would probably be able to recover at least some of it.)

My next PC I was a little more cautious. I never used p2p sites but did use Pirate Bay regularly. I built up a nice collection of music and I used to be able to catch up with TV shows that my friends In the States had seen over six months ago. Granted, I knew it was illegal but my argument was that if TV studios and channels couldn’t get their act together in showing these programmes within just a couple of weeks of each other, then I thought it was fair for me to find them for myself. I mean, if you are a member of a forums where people like to talk about BSG, Lost or any other Geeky show, then that immediatly puts us Brits at a disadvantage.

Lately though things have improved greatly. Now we get shows like Lost, 24, BSG, Fringe and others within just a couple of weeks of original broadcast in the States. Likewise, I believe shows like Doctor Who and Torchwood will be showing on BBC America within a few weeks of being broadcast over here.

Also the same applies to movies (probably even more so). Who here has bought DVD’s from some dodgy bloke in the street? You buy this disc of the film that is still being shown at the cinema and you ultimately end up disappointed in the quality. Either the picture is crap, the sound isn’t synced up or you see people getting up and going to the loo. And the film ends abruptly with no credits.

The good news however is that most movies are now released within 3-4 months of cinema release. Now I don’t mind waiting that long at all and if you pre-order from Amazon, you can get the DVD’s for almost half the recommended price. Gone are the days where you’d have to wait nearly a year to watch these movies at home.

So, since my favourite shows have started coming over here soon after the States, and since I only have to wait a few months for DVD releases, I really see no reason to use Torrent sites for these things, and you never even get a decent quality movie on Pirate Bay ( mostly they are handy-cam recordings). Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I saw a chinese guy selling DVD’s on the streets. Is this because the Police are cracking down on it or is it because the quality is shit and if you wait a few months you can buy a pucker movie?

Now I’m not totally innocent and I do have some torrented music, but this was downloaded many months ago and I stopped once the major ISP’s in this country said they were going to clamp down on such action, so I guess that’s another reason not to use torrent sites anymore. But my main reason as I stated before is that shows are going out to a worldwide audience much quicker than they used to.