How does a Broadway juggernaut defeat the secondhand ticket market?
By changing its pricing strategy.
As originally reported in The New York Times, the producers of Hamilton, which is sold out through January, are raising the prices on 200 premium seats to a record $849 in an attempt to keep the majority from being immediately snapped up by scalpers and resold at massive profits.
Also, the number of $10 lottery seats (located in the first two rows) will be raised to 46 per show, allowing 19,000 more people into the room where it happens. The new seats are on sale to American Express cardholders and will be opened up to the public after Sunday’s Tony Awards, where the critically acclaimed musical is up for a record 16 trophies.
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While $849 would nearly double the face-value record of $477 set in The Book of Mormon’s heyday, it’s still considerably less than what resellers are asking for the same seats. Orchestra seats for an evening show are going for between $1,660-$2,535 on TicketMaster’s site.
Jeffrey Seller, Hamilton’s lead producer, told the Times on Wednesday that he arrived at the $849 price point by “continually monitoring the secondary market and finding out where the average is. If I’m at $849, I think we may succeed in taking the motivation out of the scalpers to buy those tickets.” The remaining 1,075 seats, currently priced between $139-$177, will now go for between $179-$199.
“What has certainly been frustrating to me, as a business owner, is to see that my product is being resold at many times its face value and my team isn’t sharing in those profits,” Seller said. “It’s not fair.” An investigation by the newspaper estimates they’re missing out on $60 million annually.
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On Tuesday, the newspaper published an Op-ed by the musical’s star and mastermind, Lin-Manuel Miranda, calling on the New York Assembly to pass a law that cracks down on resellers’ illegal use of “ticket-bots” to snap up seats mere seconds after they’re put on sale. The state senate has already passed a similar bill.
Miranda, who is widely reported to be leaving Hamilton on July 9 (there’s been no official confirmation yet), told readers, “I want theatergoers to be able to purchase tickets at face value at our box office and our website, rather than on a resale platform,” He added. “And if you do go to a resale platform for tickets, I want the markup you must pay to be clearly displayed.”.
Miranda’s bottom line? “I want you to be there when the curtain goes up. You shouldn’t have to fight robots just to see something you love.”.
Contributing: Elysa Gardner.