Jason Kottke summarizes the situation:
So, LCD Soundsystem is retiring and to see off their fans, they decided to perform one last show at Madison Square Garden. Except that they didn’t think they’d sell the place out and didn’t pay too much attention to how the tickets were being sold. When the tickets went on sale last week, they sold out immediately. Many fans didn’t get tickets, the band’s family and friends didn’t get tickets, and even some of the band didn’t get tickets. Scalpers bought thousands upon thousands of tickets and the band is hopping mad.
What to do? The link goes to LCD Soundsystem’s page, which says:
we tried calling our lawyer about the ticket scalping. “it’s legal”. no joke. it’s f—ing legal. i tramped around with friends and band getting insane. i wanted to buy some expensive tickets and then track the seller down to beat him. i acted stupid. i did some classic, shakespearean vain “fist shaking”, etc. i made angry tweets. (i’m wondering now what on earth could be less effective and more of a first-world spoiled idiotic move than “angry tweets”? jesus.) i read conspiracy theories about how this was some cash-grab i orchestrated. i read that there are 50,000 seats at msg (i think our show will have 13k). i read that people had already bought flights, hotels. wanted to bring their kids. waited in the cold.
I’m not a ticket scalping expert, but it’s my understanding that ticket scalping is illegal in a number of areas, including New York, where Governor Patterson re-enacted a law from the 1920s prohibiting markups on tickets. I believe New York also requires all ticket re-sellers have a particular license.
That said, even if the law happens to still apply (which I don’t know for sure) the law as written isn’t always enforced with high fidelity on craigslist or outside Madison Square Garden. In practice, ticket scalpers can usually get away with anything the black market will bear.
Of course, part of the blame for this fiasco initially lies with LCD Soundsystem. They had total control over the manner in which those tickets would be sold, and failed to anticipate a fairly common problem.
But that’s life. Hindsight is 20/20. What decent person assumes they’re going to sellout Madison Square Garden in a matter of minutes?
LCD Soundsystem were understandably upset:
a small thing to scalpers: “it’s legal” is what people say when they don’t have ethics. the law is there to set the limit of what is punishable (aka where the state needs to intervene) but we are supposed to have ethics, and that should be the primary guiding force in our actions…
He’s right. Criminal law defines the type of conduct that is so reprehensible that it can never be allowed and should always be punished. Civil law, most notably tort law, defines the type of conduct which is not so reprehensible that it should be punished by the state, but is nevertheless wrong and therefore entitles the persons injured by that conduct to fair compensation for their injuries.
Anyone who thinks that either criminal or civil law determines ethics is wrong. The law sets a floor on our behavior. It doesn’t describe an ideal.
Other than that, relations in our society are governed — as a legal matter, not as a societal matter — by contract. LCD Soundsystem made a bunch offers to people: you buy tickets to our show, and we will show up at the show to play it. Unfortunately for LCD Soundsystem, it appears that the bulk of the tickets were purchased by interlopers who did not genuinely want to see the show but rather purchased the tickets solely for purposes of arbitrage.
Legal or not, it certainly wasn’t what LCD Soundsystem or their fans wanted.
What to do?
so to the point. you can’t make everyone happy, and i’m sure this will wind someone up somewhere (“but i paid $600 for one seat at msg!!!) or seem like some s—- “plan” to someone else (“they were gonna do it all along!!! it’s all a big retirement money plan to bilk the fans!!!”) or something else that someone who theoretically likes our band thinks (why are you trying to buy a ticket?? how could you even listen to a band that you think is capable of some of this s—!??) but we’ve come up with the best solution i can think of, as quickly as possible so as to deflate the market for those scalping scum—–.
we’re going to play 4 shows at terminal 5 in nyc leading up to the msg show, and they will include most if not all of the songs we play at msg. the farewell run-up to the last dance. it’ll be the 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st of march.
And there’s the punchline. “It’s legal,” for all its faults, is a two-way street. There’s nothing on those tickets which said that LCD Soundsystem was not going to perform several shows in advance of their final show, the advertising merely suggested that the Madison Square Garden show was going to be their final show.