In recent months, several outlets have run stories about how Hamilton is breaking Broadway with its massive and persistent popularity. The hip-hop-infused musical was inspired by a 2004 biography of the titular founding father and blends contemporary American music with centuries-old American history to produce something truly unique. It recently made news by earning a record 16 Tony nominations but — despite all the accolades and acclaim — most of those who want to see the play are unable to get tickets.
While this had been thought to be a simple supply-and-demand issue, according to a New York Times op-ed from a very special contributor, the problem may be a broader, yet more solvable one.
In his article Stop the Bots From Killing Broadway, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda says that brokers armed with various automated programs known as “ticket bots” are scooping up tens of thousands of tickets per year before consumers can get there hands on them and then selling them to desperate theatergoers at an exorbitant markup.
So serious is this ticket snafu that, earlier this year, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released a report entitled Obstructed View: What’s Blocking New Yorkers from Getting Tickets. The report concludes that these ticket bots are the reason that natives and tourists alike must rely almost entirely on the resale market to gain entry to some of New York’s most popular Broadway shows.
For those wondering why this isn’t against the law, it actually is. The use of ticket bots is already subject to civil penalties, but the Broadway ticket business is so lucrative that resellers are willing to risk the fines in pursuit of a big payday.
Miranda points out that this state of affairs is adversely affecting those who can’t afford tickets above face value and suggests strengthening anti-ticket bot laws by making repeated offenders subject to felony charges.
You know you’ve made it as a playwright when your productions are so popular that they need new laws to govern them.
Hamilton is currently in the midst of its inaugural Broadway engagement.