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Published: Saturday, 4/5/2003

Third Eye Blind selling tickets to high bidders

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Third Eye Blind is shaking things up in the concert ticket sales industry with a radical approach: Let the fans decide how much they'll pay to see the band.

In what officials are calling an industry first, the San Francisco rock group is selling tickets to its 20-city “Within Arm's Reach” tour — opening at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow at Headliners in Toledo — exclusively on eBay, the Internet auction site.

“It's not only a first for eBay and for Third Eye Blind, it's a first for the concert industry,” said Doug Galen, vice president for eBay tickets. “It's a big deal.”

Concert tickets have been sold on the Internet before, but only after they were first purchased elsewhere. No artist has put tickets up for bid in the initial sale, according to Galen and officials at Mercury Records, Third Eye Blind's record label.

Lead singer Stephan Jenkins told The Blade that he hopes the auction process will keep prices fair.

“I don't want the tickets to be too expensive,” Jenkins said in an interview. “I think there's something egalitarian about it and I don't want to be elitist. Bands that charge $150 or $200 a ticket ... I don't like that at all.”

In addition to selling general-admission tickets, Third Eye Blind is offering an assortment of packages that include backstage “meet-and-greet” passes or autographed band memorabilia.

Galen, speaking from eBay headquarters in San Jose, Calif., said some fans have paid as much as $500 for a pair of tickets and a pass to meet Third Eye Blind backstage.

eBay also lets shoppers purchase tickets at a fixed price using its “buy it now” option — the bidder agrees to buy the item at a certain price rather than waiting to see the outcome of an auction. The buy-it-now price for 3EB tickets in Toledo is $29 each.

“The fans couldn't be more enthusiastic about getting the chance to control the price they pay,” Galen said. “And there's no service fees, no handling fees, and no shipping fees. Nobody is trying to nickel-and-dime the fans to death.”

The Web site's ticketing system requires fans to use their home computers to print the tickets, which have individual bar codes that are scanned and validated at the venue.

Other bands and ticket agencies are keeping a close watch on Third Eye Blind's experiment.

“We're getting a lot of phone calls and there's a lot of intrigue,” Galen said. “But right now we're just focusing on making this Third Eye Blind ticket sale a huge success.”



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