Boulder, Colorado-based jam band String Cheese Incident recently made a symbolic-yet-costly gesture, in favor of its fans, and in protest against Ticketmaster, with whom the band has had a long-standing feud.
Determined to spare fans the costly service charges levied by Ticketmaster, the band enlisted the help of 50 fans, entrusting them with $20,000 cash to purchase 400 tickets from the box office of the Greek Theater in Los Angeles at the cost of $49.95 each (plus service charges). Those tickets were then returned to the band’s headquarters and made available on their website for the original cost of $49.95 (MINUS the service charges). In other words—String Cheese Incident is eating the cost of the service charge themselves, for the benefit of their fans.
Why go to all this trouble? Apparently, the band has a desire to offer its fans fee-free ticketing for its summer tour. String Cheese Incident, which maintains a large grassroots fan base, has historically been responsible for nearly 50 percent of its own ticket sales direct to fans, and decries the unreasonable fees that promoters and ticketing agencies tack on to the prices. In many cases, the band is able to negotiate special deals directly with the venues, but was unable to do so for LA’s Greek Theater. Hence, the over-the-top act of protest.
The Greek Theater gesture is apparently more symbolic than anything else—an attempt to make a statement and raise awareness. (In fact, fans who purchase those tickets will still pay an additional $12 so the band than ship the tickets via UPS—although that fee is still less than the Ticketmaster fee.) However, the band’s commitment to fee-free ticketing is apparently on the level. A statement on the band’s website maintains that aside from shipping charges, all tickets purchased directly from the String Cheese Incident for the summer tour will be at face value, without service charges—even if the band has to pay the service charge themselves.
The band’s bassist, Keith Moseley, recently said this about the band’s efforts: “It costs us money to sell the tickets, but we are going to eat that cost this summer in order to make a better deal for our fans and let them know how much we appreciate them.”