To discount or not to discount? The recession and an uptick in the number of bands on the road have resulted in unsold tickets. Innovative online services have appeared to help sell those tickets. The “New Media and Touring: Finding The Fan” panel at the 7th Annual Billboard Touring Conference and Awards dug into the merits of dealing with distressed inventory – often called “papering the crowd.”

During an hour-long conversation about using new technologies to reach concertgoers, Ticketfly founder Andrew Dreskin said his company is working on ways to sell distressed inventory through services such as Groupon. Nic Adler, owner/GM of The Roxy, said if sales are low, artists and promoters can paper the crowd.

The mention of moving unsold inventory, a frequently heard topic during Wednesday’s panels, brought mixed assessments from some panelists.

Hab Haddad, Music Networkx’s director business development North America, argued that papered crowds don’t buy merchandise at the same rate as crowds who have purchased regularly priced tickets. A few panelists disagreed. Nic Adler, owner/GM of The Roxy in Los Angeles, said he hasn’t seen such a trend. Greg Rudin of Groupon said he has seen an uptick in merchandise and food/beverage sales from a papered crowd.

One alternative to papering a crowd is playing smaller venues. If there’s distressed inventory, Adler said, maybe that artist shouldn’t be playing that venue. “We’re all scaling back,” he said. “Maybe the artist needs to scale back too.”