Scope Of House Of Blues Scalping Scandal Widens

Newspaper alleges promotion company sold tickets to brokers in several cities.

House of Blues Concerts — already facing ticket-scalping allegations

in the Denver area — also distributed prime tickets for its own shows

to brokers in Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego and other cities, The Denver

Post reported Sunday.

The original allegations of ticket scalping had raised the ire of Pearl

Jam and the Backstreet Boys, whose Denver-area concerts may have been

affected by illegal sales.

The newspaper, quoting anonymous sources, reported that officials of the

concert-promotion company even wrote instructions on House of Blues

letterhead as to how those tickets were to be resold.

Larry Solters — a spokesperson for House of Blues Entertainment,

which runs House of Blues Concerts — said Monday (Dec. 20) that the

company did not have a statement other than one the Post printed

from company president and CEO Greg Trojan in its story on Sunday.

"Based on recent Denver Post revelations, we are initiating a

comprehensive review of our newly acquired concerts division's ticket

subscription programs," Trojan had said in the statement. "It is House

of Blues philosophy and mandate to be consumer-friendly and discourage

the reselling of tickets on any level."

The selling of tickets directly to brokers would not violate any laws,

the newspaper reported. While ticket brokering is illegal in Denver, it

is legal in surrounding areas.

The Post first reported the promoter's possible dealings with

ticket brokers in the Denver area on Dec. 5. Among the tickets the company

is alleged to have sold to brokers — who then, presumably, resold

them to fans at inflated prices — were prime seats for a recent Pearl

Jam show in Denver. Pearl Jam, whose catalog of soaring rock songs includes

"Brain of J" (RealAudio

excerpt), announced last week they would no longer work with House

of Blues.

"We don't do business with anyone who scalps," Pearl Jam manager Kelly

Curtis said in a statement Friday.

Seth Hurwitz, who runs I.M.P., a concert-promotion business in the Washington,

D.C., area, said Monday he had a hard time believing a company with as

wide a reputation as House of Blues would endorse such dealings with brokers.

"Nobody's that stupid," Hurwitz said.

He said he has heard about similar practices for years but has never sold

tickets directly to brokers himself, because of personal ethics.

"If you are [ethical], then you should play by the rules," he said.

Dave Werlin, who runs Great Northeast Productions in Boston, said he was

unaware of the House of Blues allegations but added that he would hold

in disdain any promoters who made tickets available for the resale market.

"It makes this business more and more elitist, as less people can participate,"

said Werlin, whose company is promoting Phish's two-day festival Dec.

30–31 at the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in Florida.

"In the short run, it's probably very healthy for the few people who would

participate in this."

Last month the Backstreet Boys claimed 1,200 promoter-controlled seats

for their Oct. 31 show at the Pepsi Center in Denver wound up in scalpers'

hands. They asked House of Blues, who promoted the show, to donate $75,000

to a Columbine High School-related charity as compensation. At that time,

a House of Blues spokesperson said the company did not knowingly sell

tickets to brokers.