Takin' a T/O With BT: Max Deale—Fan, Author, and Sports Strategist
All summer, some of the best writers here on Bleacher Report have been talking about beating the "Summer Blues"and finding a variety of ways to distract themselves from the August doldrums while awaiting the return of the NHL.
Well although it's not directly related to hockey, there may be the opportunity for you to spend the rest of the summer planning on how to attend your favorite team's first game against their most bitter rival, all thanks to one man.
That man's name is Max Deale.
Now there's really only one difference between me, you, and Max—Max has written a book.
But this isn't just any book, this is a book that'll help get you into your favorite sporting event (or concert), and help you experience the action for the most reasonable price and (more often than not) the best seats in the house.
I was fortunate enough to be granted an opportunity to speak with Max about his book Sold Out...SO WHAT?! and am able to allow the readers here at Bleacher Report a little bit of insight into a book that may change your bank account, and your sports experience, for the better.
Bryan Thiel: Max, thanks so much for taking the time out of your schedule to sit down with us here at Bleacher Report, and allowing us this opportunity.
Now you've told me that this book is for the sports (or music) fan who has trouble getting tickets after sales have gone through to scalpers and re-salers. Were those who were getting "frozen out" of these tickets your main inspiration for writing the book or were there others as well?
Max Deale: There were actually a couple of events that spawned the writing of Sold Out...SO WHAT?!
I've been told for a long time now by a close friend of mine that I should start a concierge service for the average fan and help them the same way I help myself and my friends. Whenever we would go to a game or a concert, my friends would just automatically defer to me to get the tickets. I was fascinated with "the game within the game" and scoring the impossible ticket was great fun.
I thought about the concierge service for a while, but at the end it just seemed like a bunch of work for little reward. After all, I would have to charge some kind of fee for my services, and then I would just end up being one of "them". I remembered the old saying "give a man a fish and you've fed him for today. Teach a man to fish, and you have fed him for a lifetime", and that made me think about another way I could contribute that would help in the long run with having to charge fans once.
The second event that was a prologue to writing the book was another good friend of mine who was so set in his ways about going to scalpers, I actually had to prove my methods to him on three different occasions before he came around.
He spent hundreds, if not thousands, of extra dollars needlessly because he believed it when "the man" told him the show or game was "sold out" and therefore MUST spend whatever the going rate was to get in. After witnessing three events (A Roger Water Dark Side of the Moon concert, a Van Halen with David Lee Roth concert, and an NHL game) where I spent a combined 700% less than he did for better seats first hand, he decided to have a little faith in my system.
I know that he's not alone in his old ways of thinking. By his own admission, he just goes along with what everyone else is doing. He was skeptical, even afraid, of making a change.
Unfortunately, a lot of people fall into this category. They believe what they are told when they hear the words "sold out" and their mindset becomes "I have to spend more to get in". It's just not true.
BT: How did you go about doing the research for 'Sold Out...SO WHAT?!' Was it all based on personal experience through a specific location, or did you explore different markets throughout the world and develop different strategies and notice difference patters dependant on where and what people were buying?
MD: Trial and error over the course of a couple hundred events was the culminating research done for the book.
Over the years this had been strictly for fun, as a way to spend my time on a limited budget (I have had several "jobs" over the years but never made it beyond the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle that so many people I know live in). It wasn't until 2007 though that I had it in mind to begin documenting my experiences for the purpose of writing—after all, I wanted to keep everything fresh and current, so my ways of going about things years ago didn't necessarily work the way they do now.
All of the "plays" in Sold Out...SO WHAT?! are formulated from the past 18 months of research.
I live in a city where there are a ton of options for live events at venues of all sizes, so a great majority of them were in my major metropolitan city. That being said, I did get a chance to test the plays at certain landmark venues across the country.
One of the beauties of the playbook is that it will work for any arena or stadium in any city or country.
BT: Did you have trouble getting a hold of scalpers, brokers, or re-sellers to gather your information? What was their reaction when (or if) they found out why you were doing this?
MD: I talked to a ticket broker who posted on Craglist recently after responding to an ad that he placed. It was the day before a show that featured Robert Plant (of Led Zeplin fame) with Allison Krauss.
This particular ticket broker had several dozen pairs of tickets and had sold off most of them already. Throw in the fact that the venue had announced a second show and the broker was practically giving away the rest of his tickets for the following evenings performance. I told him my strategy about when to strike when looking for the great deal and he told me that 99 times out of 100, if I wait until the day before or the day of a show, I will get a ticket for face value or below.
On this occasion, not only did he sell several pairs of tickets at a high profit rate, the announcement of a second show was a death toll for him trying to get top dollar for the remaining tickets. The face value was $143 each and I snagged them for $50 a pop. Because I waited it out, I got a value of $246 for just $100.
When I asked how he can get away with charging so little, he told me that he makes such a killing on the tickets that people buy up when they first become 'sold out', that everything towards the end is just gravy. His biggest clients are big corporations who would rather have the tickets in hand to give to clients or whatever, so he will have business for life. He told me flat out that the way I was working the angles was the way to score deals though.
Another example of just how much these ticket brokers make: I was talking with a guy who was a close personal friend of one of the biggest brokers in town. It was just as the 2008 NBA finals were about to start this past June. This guy knew I was writing Sold Out...SO WHAT?! but still chose to tell me that at this particular broker, a game 5 (Games 3-5 were in LA) was worth $800,000 profit to their company—PROFIT! Had either team swept the series and there was no game 5, that's how much they would have lost out on. And that's just one broker.
So these guys aren't going to lose any sleep over my book. They'll still be raking in the dough for a long time coming—just not off me or anyone who reads Sold Out...SO WHAT?!
BT: What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered throughout the process?
MD: The biggest challenges came from the business end of producing the final product. The research and writing were the easy and fun parts—making sure I did the appropriate business details correctly was new to me. I had a great support team though that helped me see it through. All in all, it was a blast writing this book.
BT: How long did the entire process take: The research, the actual writing, attaining the publishers contract, ect.?
MD: I put my first pen to paper in November of 2007. After writing, I hired a talented team of editors, cartoonists, designers, etc to come in and help me produce the final version of what you see today.
I did a lot of research on the subject of publishing, and after reading all the fine print, I decided to open my own publishing company and make my book available via my website as well as on the internet via online distributors such as Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
The book will be in select stores in the near future and we look forward to expanding based on demand.
BT: As you say on your website, there has never been a "How-To" book dealing with ticket purchasing. What do you think the public's reaction will be, and do you think you may be a trailblazer for others who want their own lesser-known strategies to become more well-known.
MD: The public reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Even if you know some of the strategies I outline in the book, you're bound to pick up some new ones as well.
The book easily pays for itself the very first concert or sporting even you go to after reading it. My decision to price the book less than a single "convenience" charge that you would have to pay on Ticketmaster or through a broker was on purpose. I've gotten emails from all over the country in a short amount of time saying that they wish they had this information years ago. It's all good and I love the feeling of being able to service my fellow fans.
I also know that my tricks aren't the only ones out there. At the end of my book, I tell the readers that for the follow up book (or 'sequel' if you like), I'll be publishing "tales from the battlefield" from other fans: Their own sweet victories and agonizing defeats.
You can go on my website (www.soldoutsowhat.net) an see the tab for "Call for Entries". That is where I'm collecting stories. I already got a fantastic letter from David S. in Boston who shared his strategies on how he got front row center for the Rolling Stones "Bigger Bang World Tour" for face value (expensive at $450, but below the $12,000 asking price from various brokers).
One of the great things that came out of telling people about my book is I learned that I am just one member of a whole society of "event commandos" out there, and one thing about us is that we all love to tell our stories. I felt that a book dedicated to us sharing our trials and tribulations would be a perfect follow-up to Sold Out...SO WHAT?!
BT: You say that you're not only a big sporst fan, but a music fan as well. So the readers can get to know you a little, what's your most memorable sporting event, and your most memorable concert attended, and which is your preference: Sports or Music?
MD: Oh man, I've been to so many great sporting events over the years. I'll keep it current by going with the most recent game.
I got two tickets to game one of the NBA Western Conference championships between the Lakers and the Spurs for face value ($80 in the 300 level—$150 through brokers). On the day of the game, I used a play called 'Seasons Greetings' (on page 64 in the book) to land us six rows behind the Spurs bench. We got to enjoy the entire first half of the game from seats going for $1350 each on broker sites before having to move back to our regular seats in the second half—it was amazing!
My most recent/memorable concert attended would be the Dark Side of the Moon concert at the Hollywood bowl. Tickets were going for $125 from afar, and $500 for up front. I was able to pick up a pair of tickets behind the sound board using a play called 'Out of the Box' for $46 a piece. I'm big on Classic Rock, so to see an original member of one of the greatest rock bands of all time do their definitive album live for $46....well let's just say that I won't forget it any time soon.
That being said, I can't really say I prefer one to the other—I love both for different reasons—it's like asking a parent which child they would choose to keep. But I guess if I have to go with one, I'd take a big-time sporting even over a concert. As a kid I played sports non-stop and it was definitely my first love. The thrill of competition coupled with the anticipation of the unknown outcome and the chills I get when it comes down to the wire is one of the greatest feelings anyone can experience.
BT: Staying with the theme, are concert tickets harder to acquire than sports tickets?
MD: Just because of the available number of tickets in relation to the size of the venue, I would say that concert tickets may be a bit harder to come by. That being said, there are always tickets available to any live event you want to attnd. Once you get past the biggest lie in live events (There is no such thing as sold out), and you learn how to play the "game within the game", you'll be able to acquire tickets to your event guaranteed.
BT: A few times on your webiste, you mention the legalization of scalping in most sates in 2007. What was your initial reaction to that?
MD: I don't think it really mattered. Once everything went to the internet it became far too big of a monster for anyone to patrol. Scalpers and ticket brokers are going to charge as much as they can whether they're supposed to or not. Even if they got busted or fined, they number of times they were doing it and the profits they made far outweighed any slap on the writs they received.
It really comes down to what the fans are going to do about it. For me it's never been an issue because I've been able to maneuver around it.
BT: On your website, you have testimonials and reviews of your book that go as far to say your tips actually provide an increase in quality to the live experience. If you could distance yourself from your work for a second and give your own review of your book, what would you say?
MD: The techniques seem so simple that it's hard to imagine everyone isn't already doing it. Reading the stories that go along with the strategies prove that the author has done this time and time again and knows what he's talking about.
This book would be a great gift to any fan—it's unique and highly relate-able and a quick read. The author speaks to you as if you are old friends sitting at a bar exchanging stories.
BT: Ok, you've got the opportunity to make one pitch for your book to our readers. Let's hear your inner salesman:
MD: If you're tired of getting the shaft with Ticketmaster fees, radio contests to sold out shows you never win, or jacket up reseller's prices, give the book a shot. It may just help you out.
For more information you can visit www.soldoutsowhat.net
Not only can you order your own copy, but by buying the book online, you can enter into Max's Dream Event Giveaway for you and a gues to attend a sporting even or concert of your choice!
I'd personally like to thank Max for taking the time to sit down with Bleacher Report and discuss his new book, as well as wishing him the best of luck in the future.
Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report as well as an NHL Community Leader. If you'd like to get in contact with him, you can contact Bryan through his profile, and find more of his work in his archives.
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