STORY BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
It’s been 36 years since Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Cat Stevens, now going by Yusuf, went on concert tour.
However, fans in the New York City metro area excited about seeing him play his old hits and songs from the new album “Tell ‘Em I’m Gone” are either going to have to travel to the Tower Theater in Upper Darby to see him, or continue waiting.
The singer/songwriter has insisted that all ticketing for the “Peace Train … Late Again” Tour be paperless. “The credit card you use (to pay for your ticket online) becomes the ticket,” explained Live Nation public relations spokesperson Jacqueline Peterson.
However, going paperless has nothing at all to do with saving trees. A statement by the artist on the Yususf/Cat Stevens website says it all: “Unfortunately I will not be performing in NYC this time around, but I am looking forward to playing for fans in Philadelphia on December 4 and hope to return to NYC at a future date.
“My fans will understand, and I thank them for informing me about the extortionate tickets prices already being listed on some websites. I have been a longtime supporter of paperless tickets to my shows worldwide and avoiding scalpers.
“Unfortunately NY has a state law that requires all tickets sold for shows in NYC to be paper, enabling them to be bought and sold at inflated prices. I’m sorry about not being able to now play in NYC, but hope to find an opportunity that aligns with my support of this issue in the near future, God willing. Looks like the Peace Train is going to arrive at New York a little bit later than expected.”
Peterson said that although Live Nation has its own “safe, transparent, reliable” ticket re-sale platform to avoid scalpers and counterfeiters, the company believes “the artist should be allowed to choose” to go totally paperless.
MSNBC’s “ConsumerMan” columnist, Herb Weisbaum, reported that Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Michael Bublé and Bruce Springsteen “sometimes use paperless tickets to guarantee their fans can attend their shows,” adding that NBA teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets also have the paperless option.
Weisbaum, however, is not a fan. He wrote that paperless concert, theater or sporting event tickets require the same level of commitment as an airline ticket. If the venue asks for an ID that matches the name on the credit card, “that means parents who buy their kids a concert ticket must park and wait in line to get them into the show.”
“If you buy tickets for a group of people, you’ll have to wait until everyone arrives before you can go in,” he wrote in an online post.
“No more giving tickets as gifts. Or selling tickets you can’t use,” complains the website Fanfreedom.org.
Ticketingjournal.com reported that the restrictions that go along with paperless tickets caused so many headaches in New Jersey and Connecticut that those states were considering legislation similar to New York’s in order to protect “both fans’ and businesses’ rights” and “ensure a fair marketplace for ticket exchanges.”
Paperless ticketing represents less than a 10th of a percent of all event tickets sold, according to Peterson.