Hamilton mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda voiced his support for legislation in New York to criminalize the use of “ticket bots” and curb the extravagant markups put on re-sale tickets for concerts, sporting events and Broadway show
In a piece for The New York Times, Miranda expressed his frustration with the outrageous prices Hamilton seats were selling for on sites like StubHub and Vivid Seats. He also used a handful of fitting Guys and Dolls references to explain how the market was rigged, with third-party brokers using special automated software called ticket bots that allowed them to connect and purchase seats faster than the average consumer. While using ticket bots is technically illegal under New York law, it is only subject to civil penalties, which pale in comparison to the massive markups brokers can place on tickets.
“To use another metaphor from Guys and Dolls: Big Julie is using loaded dice, and you and I do not have a chance,” Miranda wrote. “Tickets are taken out of circulation, punishing people who can’t afford to pay more than face value. The extra money doesn’t provide a better concert or show experience for you, the fan. Instead, it goes straight to the broker’s bottom line.”
As Miranda noted, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently issued a scathing report on the re-sale ticket market, an investigation partly prompted when tickets for Bruce Springsteen’s 2016 tour popped up days before general sale began. Other artists, like Adele, have attempted to stave off scalpers by selling tickets though services like Songkick, while Tom Waits, AC/DC and and Metallica have switched to a “paperless” system that requires buyers to show credit cards and ID to get into shows.
Since Schneiderman’s January report, the New York senate has passed a bill that makes it illegal for ticket brokers to knowingly resell or offer tickets purchased by bots, and requires resale platforms like Stubhub to post the price they paid for tickets so consumers can see the markup. The bill also increases the penalties for using ticket bots, including prison time for repeat offenders. A similar bill is currently making its way through the New York Assembly.
“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,” Miranda wrote at the end of his Times piece. “And if you do go to a resale platform for tickets, I want the markup you must pay to be clearly displayed. Most of all, I want you to be there when the curtain goes up. You shouldn’t have to fight robots just to see something you love.”