Panicking because you missed out on STEP and OMG? Keen to go and check out the debut of the new, ultra-loud Dance Music Zone? Looking to hear the crackling of the flames at the Man base without pesky DJs trying to gift you tracks? All those and more could be yours…if only you had a ticket.
Well, Burners, it’s not hard. In fact it’s pretty easy.
Go to http://stubhub.com and type “Burning Man” in the search.
As I write this there are 434 tickets for sale (from $999), and 157 vehicle passes (from $333).
The Burnier-Than-Thous, of course, will tell you that you can’t do this. It’s against the unwritten rules! It’s Un-Burnery. Real Burners would rather not go to Burning Man, than pay $900 for an $800 ticket.
Hey, if you want to be one of those, then by all means go for it. Have fun being a Burner who never goes to Burning Man any more, it’s a fast growing group.
For any other Burner who wants to go to Burning Man, my advice is just go. Buy one of the hundreds of tickets still left on sale. You’re not paying that much more above face value, now that BMOrg have conveniently set face value at $819 plus a vehicle pass, bus ticket, or airport entry tax.
What of the argument that paying more for tickets fuels scalpers?
We have covered this time and time again. First of all, scalpers aren’t even a significant problem. That’s not just Burners.Me telling you that, it’s Larry Harvey:
I have kept an eye on the ticket prices on Stubhub during the year. After the OMG sale, the number of passes and tickets available went up, and so did the prices. Vehicle passes briefly hit a peak of $520, but have now started to plummet.
If scalpers DID get some of those OMG tickets, then if you buy them, you are ensuring that a real Burner goes, instead of some safari tourist bucket-lister Broner schmuck.
Otherwise, the increase in tickets available for sale must only be from Burners finding out at the last minute they can’t go. STEP is closed, so how else are they supposed to sell their tickets? Especially if they live a long way from Black Rock City. These Burners need our support, and it’s our duty to help ensure those tickets go to other good Burners. Buy their ticket, help yourself, help a Burner.
And what about the rules? Well, statements from BMOrg over the last 12 months seem to show that they’ve significantly softened their tone about the secondary market. Even they realize that it’s basically the only way that most Burners can ensure they get tickets.
They’ve gone from “it’s against our community’s ethos so don’t do it”, to “it’s the reality of supply and demand and technically legal and many do it and we’re certain it’s not scalpers“. How can they be so certain? Perhaps they have some inkling of who is actually selling these tickets. To the rest of us, the whole ticketing and queueing system is a mysterious black box.
From the Jackrabbit Speaks:
- For 2014, the total allotment was 35,000 vehicle passes. We never sold out. Just over 34,000 were purchased in all of our sales combined. Just before the event there were lots of passes on the secondary market, and in the end, only about 27,000 vehicle passes were actually used.
- Since Black Rock City will be roughly the same size in 2015 as it was in 2014, this year we’re limiting the total allotment to 27,000
Following the “reality of supply and demand”, releasing fewer Vehicle Passes for 2015 has naturally led to vehicle passes being much higher on the secondary market all year.
I predict the Early Bird sale sells out quickly next year, and I’m sure cracking the 1 G mark has crossed the minds of the non-profit ticket pricers.
As the above graph shows, thanks to StubHub there have been hundreds of tickets available all year long. There are other sites too.
eBay has plenty of tickets and vehicle passes. Tickets seem to be around $600-$800 and vehicle passes are in the $250-$450 range.
Please note: there are plenty of Burnier-Than-Thou narcs out there trying to tell on ticket sellers to BMOrg. Why they do this is beyond me, but Burners.Me is not responsible for anybody scamming anybody else in ticket sales. Caveat emptor, and caveat venditor too.
Someone is making a lot of money from these sales on the secondary market. But is it professional scalping crews, gaming the system? Burning Man are certain that it isn’t. How can they be so sure? Is there some way that insiders can get their hands on more than 1 ticket? Volunteers, staffers, Directed Group Sale beneificiaries? They get to keep a ticket for themselves, and sell one to pay for their trip…if someone had 4 tickets and vehicle passes, they could clear more than $5000.
The two tier price structure of $800 and $400 for the same ticket seems tailor made to boost prices on the secondary market. The staggered timing of the ticket releases also seems geared to fuel it. And watching what BMOrg have done over the years since they introduced the ticket lottery, every single move seems to have had the effect of bumping secondary market prices higher for longer. This is one area where BMOrg seems to really have excelled in the effectiveness of their decision making.
At any time, to really stop scalping, they could just link tickets to IDs. Of course, that would completely destroy the model I just outlined. It would be great for Burners, but much harder for anyone who got tickets via one of the various internal handouts to make money on the side. So we’re told we can’t have it, and some weak excuse is made up for why. Actions speak louder than words, in this case the actions seem to be about secondary market prices. We haven’t seen any evidence of money from the Vehicle Pass sales going to improve road safety, but they certainly have been a re-seller’s wet dream, fetching up to 1000% returns.