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Why Did A $429 Coachella Ticket Sell for $650? A Look at Festival Ticket Resales

In Southern California, the start of spring means one thing: Coachella. With hotels priced upwards of $300 a night plus the cost of transportation — because, FYI, Coachella is truly in the middle of a desert— attendees are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend. And even after figuring out all of the logistics surrounding accommodations, there’s still one key purchase left: the tickets that actually let you into the festival.

UCLA senior Sahil Jarayam says he paid $650 for a Coachella ticket back in November, despite the face-value of the ticket being $429. “The reason I jumped at that price was last year, from my recollection, the prices really only climbed after initially released so I figured it would be even more extreme this year,” says Jarayam. He says he got the ticket from Stubhub, a site that often resells concert tickets.

The website itself says that resale of a ticket for a price higher than face value is grounds for seizure and cancellation. But people still resell the tickets for a higher price, and no one is doing a thing about it.

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The laws on ticket resale vary from state to state, and in California it is only illegal to sell tickets at a higher price at the festival itself. Regardless of Coachella saying higher resale can result in cancelation, websites like StubHub, Ticketmaster, and Vividseats make it easy for hundreds of people to resell their seats at any price. Individuals see Coachella as an opportunity to resell tickets for a higher price than they paid to return a profit, which only hurts the rest of us.

When this happens, it drives up Coachella prices, which further propagates the “exclusivity” stereotype people associate with the event. As college students, we already have to pay so many expenses, so spending $429 for music festival tickets is already difficult. Adding $400 more dollars to that ticket price only makes it even more difficult to attend.

This year at Coachella, I spent $615 on transportation, food, drinks, and the ticket itself. I had to work 47 extra hours as a lab consultant to be able to pay for this experience. Luckily, I was able to pay a lot less than other people for my experience because I camped on the festival grounds and bought my ticket for less than face value from a friend. Had I bought it earlier on from someone reselling the ticket at a high price, I might have had to spend closer to $1,000 and work 77 extra hours just to pay to camp out for Coachella.

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It makes sense that Coachella is expensive — it’s paying for some of the most popular artists of the season. On top of that, the festival has art installations and has to pay all of the people that put on the festival. The price of the facevalue Coachella ticket is well worth it because it goes towards an amazing experience. But, the person reselling a ticket is not providing you any additional services, so it hurts the festival community as a whole. While I fully understand wanting to make money, it’s not acceptable to do so at someone else's expense, especially when Coachella explicitly prohibits it.

Getting a Coachella ticket is hard enough on the website when tickets are released. Buying multiple tickets to sell them at a higher price means that other individuals on the website in line for tickets will not be able to get them for the Coachella website, and will have to rely on resales. This ultimately serves to further exclusive the event by driving up the total price of the festival. If you can spend $4,290 on Coachella tickets just to resell them, you probably come from a place of privilege. And by reselling tickets you are making it harder for college students to be able to enjoy the festival by forcing them to pick up several extra shifts just to afford the tickets. Let’s make Coachella about the music and experience, not the money.

Tabatha Lewis is a fourth year student in Mathematics of Computation at UCLA. In her free time she likes to read, write, and go on runs.
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