Tickets from the Burning Man Main Sale are sold out and many of the festival’s veteran burners have been left out in the cold. Angry Burners have dubbed the recently adopted ticket system a failure as they vent their frustration on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Richard West a.k.a. Mr C, world class DJ from the 90’s electronic music band, The Shamen posted his displeasure with the new system on Facebook yesterday calling the system a “HUGE FAIL” and shaming StubHub for allowing scalpers to use the platform to gauge Burners at $1,500 a ticket!
Last year tickets sold out for the first time in Burning Man’s 25-year history. The new ticket system was intended to make ticket distribution fairer. It involved an initial registration process followed by two rounds of ticket sales.
The first Pre-Sale round happened in November/December 2011 and 3,000 tickets were sold at $420 each with a limit of 4 per person. Next came the Main Sale round which took place in January 2012. In this round, Burners could select the tier price that best reflected their economic circumstances: 40,000 of these tickets were sold at $240, $320 and $390 with a limit of 2 per person. The final Secondary Open Sale is due to happen on March 28th 2012 and 10,000 tickets will be made available for direct purchase at $390 a piece.
This year organisers did away with the Scholarship and Low Income Programs in favour of a single more streamlined Low Income program for Burners who can’t afford the regular lowest priced ticket. Four thousand of these Low Income tickets priced at $160 a piece will be made by special application starting on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 12 noon PST. Applications will be accepted until tickets run out or Monday, May 1, 2012, whichever comes first.
In the previous first-come first-served system, Burners had to get into an online queue and success or failure in procuring a ticket depended on whether you made it into the queue, if you could wait around your computer long enough to be processed and other factors like your internet connectivity etc. The new system was meant to be better because organisers could apply a filtering system to the registrants to remove known scammers, and it resolved the issue of having to queue. However, the new system does not come without it problems either.
Marian Goodell, Director of Business and Communications for Burning Man has acknowledged that only about 20-25% of the key people from major theme camps and art groups have so far received notifications for tickets. It would seem that the introduction of the new system was the impetus for many people to get their friends to purchase tickets for them to increase their chances in the random selection, kind of like how buying 100 lottery tickets as opposed to one increases your chances of winning.
Organisers are discouraging Burners from purchasing tickets from scalpers and secondary sources like eBay, Craigslist and StubHub and asking them to use their Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP), a safe and secure web-based system set up by organizers to re-distribute tickets at face-value while protecting Burners from scalpers.
Fans will be quick to point the finger at Burning Man organizers but as the popularity of the Burning Man festival grows so does the impact of the festival on its immediate natural environment and this has a direct effect on regulations set by Nevada’s Bureau of Land Management agency (BLM). At the end of the day the outcome will depend on the compunction of the individuals who cheated the system and bought more than 4 tickets. A true Burner will sell their extra tickets through STEP to ensure that the art and theme camp teams make it to the festival because without them it’s just a bunch of people baking in the desert.