Phish is one of the most popular jam bands in the world, known for their dedicated fan base and legendary live performances. Since forming in 1983, Phish has developed a reputation for their improvisational live shows and eclectic blend of musical styles. Many Phish fans follow the band around the country to as many shows as possible, creating a thriving subculture.
With such devoted fans willing to travel far and wide to see them, how does Phish handle tickets and ensuring their shows are accessible to their followers? For many major concerts and live events, Ticketmaster is the go-to platform for ticket sales and distribution. Does Phish utilize Ticketmaster for their events as well?
Phish was formed in 1983 at the University of Vermont by guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon, drummer Jon Fishman, and keyboardist Page McConnell. Their early sound blended elements of rock, jazz, bluegrass and more, later developing into their signature jam style featuring extended improvisational jams.
Some key facts about Phish:
- Formed in 1983 in Burlington, Vermont
- Original lineup still intact
- Known for improvisation and musical experimentation
- Have a dedicated, loyal fanbase called “Phish Heads”
- Have performed over 1,700+ concerts
- Have sold over 8 million albums
Throughout their long career, Phish has built up a reputation as one of the top jam bands and live acts in the world thanks to their musical skills, improvisational genius, and incredibly loyal fanbase. Their concerts are legendary, often spinning normal songs into extended jams lasting 20+ minutes and venturing through diverse musical territories.
For many Phish fans, known as “Phish Heads,” the live Phish experience is sacred. Attending as many shows as possible and supporting the band is a way of life. This level of devotion has created a thriving subculture around the band. Understanding how Phish handles their ticketing and logistics is key to keeping their fans happy.
Ticketmaster is the world’s largest ticket sales and distribution company, dominating the industry since its formation in 1976. They sell tickets for concerts, sports events, theater shows, and more. Ticketmaster has contracted with hundreds of venues and promoters around the US and worldwide.
Some key facts about Ticketmaster:
- Originally founded in 1976
- Merged with Live Nation in 2010, the world’s largest event promotion company
- Sold over 500 million tickets in 2019
- Charges service fees on every ticket sold through their platform
- Often secures exclusive contracts with major venues and promoters
- Main ticketing outlet for most major live events
Ticketmaster has become so ubiquitous in the events industry that they now sell tickets for most major concerts, festivals, and live events in the US and internationally. Their exclusive contracts and deals with promoters and venues lock down the ticketing rights for many big-name acts and events. Does this ticketing giant also handle tickets and sales for Phish shows?
How Phish Handles Tickets
For the majority of their shows, Phish uses their own in-house ticketing system called Phish Tickets rather than contracting with Ticketmaster. They steer clear of Ticketmaster for several likely reasons:
More Control Over the Fan Experience
A core part of the live Phish experience is accessibility for fans. The band aims to keep tickets affordable and available by managing their own ticketing. Ticketmaster is known for inconvenient services fees, sometimes excessive markups, and quickly-selling-out shows. This could put Phish shows out of reach for many fans. With their own platform, the band has more control over pricing, transfers, and ensuring real fans get the tickets.
Avoids Service Fees
Tickets sold through Ticketmaster incur services fees in addition to the base ticket price. These fees can add a significant cost onto each ticket, often $10-$20 extra per ticket. For fans buying multiple tickets, those fees quickly add up. By using their own ticketing platform, Phish can avoid tacking on service fees, keeping costs down for fans.
More Revenue for the Band
Ticketmaster collects a percentage of fees and revenue from every ticket sold on their platform. When an artist uses their own ticketing system, they avoid losing a share of their ticket sales and retain more revenue. For a band with a DIY ethos like Phish, this likely appeals more than splitting sales with a large corporate company like Ticketmaster.
Caters to Their Die-Hard Fans
Perhaps most importantly, Phish Tickets is specially designed for Phish’s devoted fanbase. It allows them to run ticket lotteries, give presale codes to fan club members, limit ticket transfers, and implement other policies to deter scalpers and get tickets directly to real fans. The system is built specifically around this band and this fanbase.
While Phish primarily uses their own platform, there are some exceptions where they do utilize Ticketmaster:
- Some festivals or shows at venues where Ticketmaster has exclusive contracts
- One-off shows at major venues like Madison Square Garden
- Some European shows where Ticketmaster has larger reach
So in select cases where it makes logistical sense or they are required to by the venue, Phish will use Ticketmaster. But for their regular tours, solo concerts, and most shows, Phish Tickets is the method for fans to buy access.
How Does Phish Ticketing Work?
For decades now, Phish has cultivated their own homegrown ticketing platform and process that caters specifically to their fans, culture, and priorities. Here’s an overview of how Phish Tickets works:
Phish Ticket Request Period
When a tour is first announced, there is usually an initial ticket request period where fans can request tickets before the public on-sale. Fans must request tickets through their Phish.com account. Only members of the band’s Ten Club fan club have access to request during this early period.
On-Sale for Public
After the exclusive request period, any remaining tickets go on public sale online via Phish Tickets. All fans have equal access. Dates, times and ticket limits are announced ahead of time. Some shows will quickly sell out at this stage as fans scramble to get tickets.
Ticket Lottery System
For the most in-demand shows, Phish will also run a ticket lottery. Fans can enter for a chance to win the right to purchase lottery tickets. Winners are selected at random and notified. Lotteries provide a more fair way for every fan to have a shot at tickets.
Limit on Tickets
To discourage scalpers, limits are placed on the number of tickets each fan can purchase during the request period, on-sale or lottery. Limits are usually 4-8 tickets. This makes it hard for scalpers to scoop up huge batches.
Tickets can be transferred between fans, but only through the official Phish Tickets system. Strict transfer limits are also implemented to deter scalping. Fans must have a Phish.com account to receive transferred tickets, for security.
Mobile Ticket Entry
Phish uses mobile entry where fans must show the credit card used to purchase and ID to enter venues. This prevents third-party selling and ensures original purchasers attend shows.
Resale Market Protections
Phish provides an official face value ticket exchange for resales. Price markups are not allowed. This prevents unofficial third-party resellers profiting off hardcore fans.
|How Phish Ticketing Works
|Phish Tickets website and mobile app for all sales
|Ten Club members get early ticket request period
|High demand shows
|Ticket lotteries provide fair access
|Strict limits prevent scalpers buying huge batches
|Only allowed between Phish.com accounts
|Must show ID and original credit card
|Official face value exchange;
This customized ticketing system gives Phish and their fans much more control, fairness and protection compared to third-party platforms like Ticketmaster. It caters specifically to the unique needs of their subculture.
Why Phish Avoids Ticketmaster
Phish clearly deliberately avoids using Ticketmaster for most of their events. Here are some of the key reasons why:
More Revenue for the Band
Ticketmaster takes a cut out of every ticket sold on their platform – as much as 25-30% of the base price. When Phish sells direct, they get to keep more revenue and profits.
Avoid Service Fees
Tickets sold on Ticketmaster incur extra convenience fees, often $10-$20 per ticket. Direct sales avoid tacking on these additional costs to fans.
Greater Control Over the Fan Experience
With their own system, Phish can implement presales, lotteries, transfer policies, entry requirements and other measures to keep costs low and ensure fair access for fans.
Phish Tickets’ limits and other deterrents make it much harder for scalpers to hoard tickets and profit off fans. Ticketmaster has a bigger scalping problem.
Customization for Phish’s Unique Fan Culture
Everything from the presales, to mobile entry, to the resale exchange is specially tailored around how this band works with their fervent fanbase.
As a DIY band born out of a small scene, Phish likely prefers a homegrown approach that aligns with their values vs. corporate Ticketmaster.
|Avoid Ticketmaster’s cut of sales
|Don’t pass on service fees to fans
|Customize system specifically for their needs
|Limits and policies deter scalpers
|Catered to Phish’s unique fan culture
|DIY ethos matches homegrown approach
Overall, Phish has deliberately set up their own ticketing ecosystem that fits their ethos and fans better than outsourcing this crucial process to a company like Ticketmaster.
In summary, while Ticketmaster dominates much of the event ticketing landscape, Phish intentionally avoids using them for most shows. Instead, they utilize their own customized ticketing platform called Phish Tickets. This gives the band and their fans much more control over access and the buying experience.
Key reasons Phish opts for their own system include keeping more revenue, avoiding fees, enabling fair access for hardcore fans, discouraging scalpers, and upholding their DIY, grassroots ethos. For a band with such a devoted following and concert culture, the personalized Phish Tickets approach makes sense and has served them well for decades. As long as fans keep flocking to see them, Phish has little reason to hand over their ticketing to an outside corporation like Ticketmaster.