Sometimes it takes only a minute.
Or, in the case of the 2014 Academy of Country Music Awards, 18 minutes.
That’s how long it took last year to sell out of tickets for the annual country music awards show, whose 50th annual edition is scheduled for April 19 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Whether it’s one minute or 18, state Rep. Craig Goldman is tired of companies using technology and software to snatch up tens of thousands of tickets for big events — and resell them later at higher prices.
“This has been around for years, but the problem is no one has really done anything about it until now,” said Goldman, R-Fort Worth. “These computer programs override established protocols so they can purchase hundreds, if not thousands, of tickets before humans have a chance to even dial the number.
“By the time regular people get through, the tickets have already been sold.”
Goldman filed a bill to limit the technology used to buy large numbers of tickets — and give the Texas attorney general the power to investigate complaints and seek damages against anyone or any company using these programs to compromise ticket sales.
Critics fear that the bill interferes with the free market; supporters say it protects the consumer.
Goldman’s bill, House Bill 3477, remains pending before the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee.
ACM: gone in a flash
The Academy of Country Music Awards — a high-profile event expected to draw some of the biggest names in country music — is a classic example of technology being used to buy all the tickets before regular fans get a chance.
Last year, it took 18 minutes for the 70,000 tickets for the 2014 Academy of Country Music Awards to sell out.
Fans got another chance later to buy tickets when organizers released more seats for the event.
As for those who missed out, it’s a common situation, Goldman said.
“It has happened to me,” he said. “It has happened to everybody who is trying to go to the World Series or a major concert.”
Goldman said his bill — which would affect ticket sales for concerts, sporting events, exhibitions, shows, theatrical performances “or similar scheduled activity” — is designed to prevent “abusive technology.”
It says a person can’t use “any method, technology, device or software” to bypass regular procedures when buying tickets. That means buyers can’t use anything that disguises their identity, lets them buy more than the maximum allowed or circumvent a security measure.
It also says that people may not decode, decrypt or modify tickets or their bar codes. And that the attorney general’s office may investigate any allegations that someone bypasses these rules.
State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, asked during a recent committee hearing where the bill was discussed if it would affect the free market.
He asked if lawmakers were talking about “regulating something that really regulates itself.”
“Doesn’t the industry take care of itself?”
Ticket sellers are speaking up in favor of the bill.
“We are hoping that the bill will become law and help us prevent automated deliberate mass purchasing of tickets by secondary ticket sellers with the intent of marking up the prices and selling them in the secondary market,” said Dave Brown, general manager of the American Airlines Center, who was among those to sign a letter supporting Goldman’s bill.
“It’s driven by these computer programs and not the true fans,” he said. “We hope the legislation will help us get the tickets where they belong — with the true fans who want to see the show.”
Anna M. Tinsley,