Friday, September 21, 2007

Freak Fest marries Ticketmaster; now, who wants to catch the bouquet?

Ah, Freak Fest--formerly known as the Halloween free-for-all held annually down on State Street in our fair city. A bastion of drunken, be-costumed college students and those rascally out-of-town hooligans (because it's always people from other cities--Madisonians are such angels) who show up to start fires and break windows. And flash their boobs. And climb trees.

I admit, I was fascinated and wildly entertained for most of the two years I went to the unregulated street parties of yore. The crush of the crowd usually got to be too much, but the costumes were varied and hilarious. Still, I haven't been to the event in, oh, four years now? And I don't intend to go now that it's a gated, ticketed event. Especially now that it's been announced that the organizers will be funneling all ticket sales through that bastion of fair business practices, Ticketmaster.

In theory, tickets will cost $5 per person. I'll be most curious, however, to see how much of a "convenience charge" TM adds on, along with any other little fees they feel might be necessary.

According to Isthmus Daily Page's article, the Downtown Coordinating Committee, the group that made the decision to use TM, claims that it "wasn't an easy decision for the city and Frank Productions, given the former's ongoing campaign to rebrand the event as locally-focused in an effort to discourage attendance by the proverbially raucous out-of-state student contingent. They decided to go for it, though, in order to utilize the online sales for direct marketing, emailing ticket-holders in advance of the party to communicate and reinforce event rules, details, and so on."

Did they bother to shop around at all? For instance, there's Brown Paper Tickets, a fair-trade ticketing service utilized by a number of groups around town. They offer the ticket selling feature free-of-charge and without any "convenience fees" tacked on (just a minuscule service charge of .99 cents). Why didn't the DCC go with them? I have no clue, but it seems like a bad move. Not only will the use of TM likely cost the organizers money, but it's going to add unnecessary cost to the price of tickets and probably lessen the amount of people who buy them and attend the event.

Hey, maybe that was their intent all along?

P.S. I can't say that the so-far leaked entertainment line-up is terribly thrilling, either. But that's just one woman's opinion.

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