Exploring the Other – Part I – Let’s start with the numbers

“While we’d all like to blame some mysterious “Other” at this point – while we’re all offended by the concept of scalpers profiting off tickets our friends should have gotten – there is no clear evidence that scalpers are holding all of these tickets…

Who or what is the mysterious Other?…There are listings on ticket scalping sites, but right now, they don’t all equal tickets that will be sold above face value. None of those sellers are actually holding tickets yet, and won’t be for several months, and we will collaborate to do what we can to starve them out. There are right now only about a hundred such tickets on those sites, although that doesn’t mean there are not more tickets that were awarded to people who plan to scalp them eventually.” – the Jack Rabbit Speaks, Feb 9 2012

(emphasis mine: no clear evidence, means that there is evidence scalpers got a lot of tickets, it’s just not completely conclusive)

Who is this mysterious OTHER then, that’s to blame for the Great Lottery Fuckup?

Is it :

Ignorance – the system we’ve implemented is great, and only has a few minor flaws, which we couldn’t have foreseen (the official line)

Incompetence – we don’t know what we’re doing, we couldn’t organize a cat out of a brown paper bag

Malevolence – we’ve had enough, we’re protesting change, we’re gonna burn the house down

Greed – someone is cashing in, by gaming the system

A figment of your imagination – there is no Other. This is just how things go. Everything is normal, nothing to see here, move along.

We’re going to be exploring these different theories, over the next few posts.

So what did happen to all the tickets? Let’s start by taking a look at some basic maths. I promise, no calculus!

58,000 is the cap on attendees from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permit. This permit is rumored to be owned by Dr Dre . I know this rumor sounds crazy, there are not too many black people seen at Burning Man, and not a lot of hip-hop stages. But I think it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. One of Dr Dre’s biggest ever hits was California Love by Tupac. Watch the video and see how many incredible similarities there are to Burning Man:

California knows how to party

2Pac and Dre, California Love (1995)

The BLM may be open to negotiating a larger permit. They could also shrink it – it is still not approved for this year. So there might not be any more tickets…or there could be a lot more. They’re certainly in a good position now to show BLM that the demand is high enough for a big permit size increase. If Burning Man could score another 50,000 people on the permit, and they’re already majorly sold out, they could sell those tickets at full price – that’s $20 million (at $400). This would be pure profit since most of their costs are fixed.

There are other restrictions on the size of the event, related to the number of cars on the road and particularly The Exodus (more to come later on that from our editor).

A number of tickets are set aside to be given to low income people and friends of the community – 4000 at $160 each.

3000 tickets were pre-sold by random selection, at $420 each.

The ticket lottery was 3 tiers of pricing, 40,000 tickets.

Another 10,000 tickets will be released in the next lottery, march 28th, at the full price ($390). There is some talk that these may be set aside for theme camps and art projects.

[the numbers don’t quite add up, there’s 1,000 unaccounted for, if anyone can explain or correct them please comment; also not sure how the numbers of volunteers, rangers, tanker truck drivers etc are calculated]

How did the Tiers split? This is the first thing that doesn’t make sense. If you’re splitting it into 3, why not make it 39,000, or 42,000? This suggests to me it could have been 3 tranches of 15,000, with the last 5,000 going to Other.

Officially, it looked something like this:

Tier 1 – $240   10,000

Tier 2 – $320   15,000

Tier 3 – $390   15,000

I got these numbers from an ePlaya post . BMorg seems to have changed their ticketing page since Jan 13 to take these numbers out. I can’t see any reason why they would do that – except for, “Other” reasons.

There were 3 times the number of entries in the lottery, than there were tickets. So, that’s 120,000 applications. At least 60,000 different names, addresses, and credit card numbers.

40% of those surveyed, had never been to the event before. So, that’s 48,000 applications.

Some of the discussions in other forums have mentioned the viral video “Oh the places you go”. As I write this, it has 1.3m hits. If you buy the argument that this video has done a huge amount to attract Virgins to Burning Man, then the conversion rate is staggering. 3.7% of all people who watched the video, entered the ticket lottery.

Only 25-30% of tickets needed by theme camps and art projects were obtained. Note this is not “wanted”, this is just the minimum viable number of tickets for them to attend this year. Let’s take 25% as our number.

If 40% were virgins, then 60% of applications were from experienced Burners. That’s 72,000. Only 25% got tickets – 18,000. If you assume that the rejection rate was arbitrary, and tickets were randomly allotted, then 12,000 Virgins got tickets (48,000 x 25%).

That makes 30,000 tickets. What happened to the “Other” 10,000 tickets?

Next part – could this all be driven by greed for the almighty dollar?

22 comments on “Exploring the Other – Part I – Let’s start with the numbers

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