Meeting demand helps beat ticket scalpers, Garth Brooks says

Country singers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood are playing nine shows over eight days in Edmonton to accommodate demand so fans don't have to pay inflated prices for tickets.

Country superstar Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, are playing 9 concerts in Edmonton

Country singers Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks speak to the media before the first of nine concerts they are holding in Edmonton over the next eight days. (CBC )

Country superstar Garth Brooks says it "means everything" to play enough shows so fans aren't forced to pay high prices to scalpers and ticket resale sites. 

Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, are playing nine shows over eight days in Edmonton to accommodate the demand. Brooks said they recently held about a dozen shows in Chicago.

Artists can make more seats available than the fans demand, Brooks said in an interview prior to his first of nine shows in Edmonton Friday.

"That's what you do, and so sometimes you play to a half house. Who cares? You're getting to play music."

When Brooks first announced the Edmonton shows last December, demand was so high that he kept adding shows. Standard seats for the Edmonton shows cost $74.

At a news conference in Edmonton Friday, Brooks talked about his intense dislike for scalpers. 

"I don't know what your rules are here, but I'm pushing for capital punishment in the States for scalping," Brooks joked.

"I don't like people getting in between the artist and the people that allow them to be an artist. Those people that don't give a shit about you or me until the show gets here, and now they want to get in the middle of me and you, and I don't like that."

Yearwood acknowledged that artists run the risk of performing to a partly empty house.

"If one of them's not full because you decided to make sure that everybody that wanted a ticket got one — I think that's a pretty cool thing," she said.

Brooks said they have sold five million tickets on the current tour. 

Fan frustration 

Increasing the available pool of tickets isn't the only way Brooks is trying to circumvent scalpers.

About 15 per cent of concertgoers, mainly people on the floor and in club areas, will have to present the credit card they used to buy the ticket at the door.

Frustration over ticket scalping has been an issue with sports and music fans for years.

Stephanie Gillis-Paulgaard (left) and Shannon Precht say they didn't want to pay the high prices on ticket resale sites for the Garth Brooks shows. More shows were added to meet the demand. (CBC)

Last summer, fans of the Tragically Hip complained they were not able to get tickets to the band's tour, which was announced after lead singer Gord Downie revealed he had terminal brain cancer.

Suspicions were validated last fall after a CBC Marketplace story revealed two-thirds of the tickets for the tour were grabbed by brokers and automated software known as bots. 

The difficulties in getting Tragically Hip tickets inspired pollster Mario Canseco of Insights West to ask Canadians what they thought about scalping.

Canseco said about three in 10 concertgoers couldn't get tickets to an event they wanted to attend and 17 per cent ended up paying inflated prices.

He said about one-third of people polled want to go back to the days when people lined up outside of arena box offices to buy tickets.

"Just line up outside the venue, get a Thermos with a lot of coffee and spend the night, because that is actually going to be more equitable to those who want to go to those concerts," Canseco said.

When Brooks first announced his shows last December, demand was so high, he kept adding shows.

'I'm not paying those prices'

One of Brooks's Edmonton fans said she was pleased so many fans were able to get tickets.

"I think it's fantastic that he's doing that," said Shannon Precht. "So many people get to go. Everyone we talked to."

Precht wasn't able to buy tickets to the first set of shows and looked on the resale sites out of curiosity.

"I was like, 'No, I'm not paying those prices,'" she said.

Precht said she had previously paid high prices to get tickets for her daughter.

"I've had to pay $250 for these tickets that I know are worth $80 or $90," she said. "I think that's ridiculous. Someone else is making the money when it should be that superstar."

Her friend Stephanie Gillis-Paulgaard said she has wanted to go to big shows at the new Rogers Place but has given up.

"To take it in at Rogers Place would be awesome. But I'm not willing to pay the prices that are out there," she said.

Brooks and Yearwood performed the first of their nine shows Friday night. On Saturday and Sunday, as well as on Feb. 25, the pair are holding afternoon concerts in addition to their evening shows.

With files from the CBC's Briar Stewart and Terry Reith