SINGAPORE — When ticket sales for Singapore’s limited run of the Hamilton musical began last November, an excited Syazwan Ramli, 25, did not hesitate to snag two prime tickets for S$250 each to a Sunday show.

The National University of Singapore law graduate was worried that, like so many cases of highly anticipated stage productions in the past year, tickets for the award-winning musical would disappear as soon as they became available because of zealous fans and scalpers.

So, to Mr Syazwan at the time, there was no need to think twice, he told TODAY.

But his buyers’ remorse set in days after the purchase when Mr Syazwan saw that similar seats for the same category on the weekend were being sold for as low as S$220.

The reason for the price difference? Dynamic pricing was in effect, which meant that prices of tickets fluctuated based on demand, instead of the traditional practice of setting prices upfront based on seat categories.

This is similar to how surge pricing works for ride-hailing, bookings of hotel accommodation and flight tickets.

Under this model, Mr Syazwan paid the maximum price for the category he had selected, though if demand had been low, he would have paid less for the same seat.

“I didn’t check whether the prices were cheaper on other dates because I was rushing to get tickets and went with whatever I could get,” he said. 

“If I had known there would be tickets left and they were cheaper, I would not have rushed and just waited it out… It’s really because of FOMO (fear of missing out).”

A GROWING TREND

Dynamic pricing for entertainment events, such as live concerts, musicals and festivals, is a recent trend in ticketing practices used by event promoters to match ticket prices to demand.

In recent years, the US and Canada concerts of American country singer Bruce Springsteen, pop singer Harry Styles, as well as British alt-rock band Coldplay caught flak for implementing dynamic pricing for ticket sales.

Last year, when US fans of pop singer Beyonce fought over tickets for her Renaissance Tour, prices were pushed upwards of US$1,000 (S$1,350) each because of the dynamic pricing model.

Responding to the backlash to the Springsteen concert in the US, American ticket sales platform Ticketmaster said dynamic pricing prevents scalpers from buying tickets at face value and reselling them at higher prices for personal profit. 

“Dynamic pricing is about capturing more value for the artist at the initial on-sale, versus that value going to people reselling tickets on the secondary market,” Ticketmaster spokesperson said to US news outlets.

In essence, this means the premium that fans are willing to pay for resold tickets goes to the artists, organisers and promoters directly, rather than to the scalpers.

But in Singapore, concertgoers fear that such a pricing model may now be creeping into the scene and end up raising the prices of tickets overall.

Ahead of Icelandic jazz-pop singer Laufey’s Singapore concert on Sept 4, several fans were up in arms over an announcement that ticket prices would be “subject to change in accordance to demand”, with rates starting from S$98.

No cap on prices was announced, unlike during the sale of Hamilton tickets in which promoters said dynamic prices would be limited to S$300, depending on the category chosen.

But prior to the start of ticket sales on Monday, Laufey’s event promoter Live Nation removed a poster displaying the clause that concert tickets were priced based on demand, though its website still showed that information.

It is unclear if tickets were ultimately sold based on dynamic pricing, but the announcement has caused several concertgoers to question whether such a model would become the norm in future.

TODAY has reached out to Laufey’s public relations team and Live Nation for comment.



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