Burning Man organizers took the unusual step of apologizing to the Burner community Wednesday (April 10) after a series of technical glitches and site crashes created chaos for fans trying to buy tickets during the event’s Main Sale, where 23,000 tickets are made available to the public.
Fans complained the site would crash seconds after hitting the purchase button, while others said they were shut out by glitches, page timeouts and error messages from the unnamed ticketing company that had replaced Ticketfly, which had serviced the event from 2014-2018. Five days after the disastrous main sale, Burning Man officials still have not released the name of the ticketing company in the calamity, with one Reno Gazette Journal reporter writing that the ticketing providing was still a “mystery vendor.”
Today Billboard has learned that ShowClix was the company behind Wednesday’s problem-plagued ticket sale, its first for Burning Man since winning the business after the event’s five-year relationship with Ticketfly and their new owners Eventbrite ended last year. ShowClix is a Pittsburgh-based company owned by Patron Technology, a New York firm that provides software and technical support for live entertainment events. ShowClix’s president Brian Arnone is a former Ticketfly svp, where he worked from 2010 to 2015.
Ticketing industry insiders tell Billboard that Burning Man has long been considered one of the most technically-complicated endeavors in the events industry. The nine-day celebration of inclusion, self-reliance and decommodification uses a multi-tired registration system to filter out attendees who don’t embrace Burning Man’s principals of gifting, communalism and participation. It’s also been a frequent target for scalpers ever since the festival first sold out in 2011, with some ticket resellers allegedly using banned automated software to jump to the front of the line to buy up tickets.
“We believe bots were a factor, and we are specifically investigating interference from bots compounding the load,” a April 11-dated post on Burning Man’s blog explains.
“Even if it had gone perfectly from a technical perspective, the vast majority of those participating would not have been able to purchase a ticket as demand significantly outstripped supply,” the blog explains. “But Wednesday’s sale was especially challenging due to technical issues that resulted in a variety of poor experiences.”
That included fans getting charged for tickets they weren’t able to buy, unexpected errors that kicked people out of the sales queue and reports of hidden buttons and site timeouts that frustrated thousands of fans who were using multiple browsers and devices to buy the $425 tickets.
Oof, there’s a hidden button you need to click to get burning man tickets pic.twitter.com/8DnOCNDqvD
— Chase Lambert (@chaselambda) April 10, 2019
burning man tickets… site crashed on me and my wife… re-up and at it again… pic.twitter.com/UFcrHUDGsQ
— Jay Ross (@DJay_Ross) April 10, 2019
— Adriana Cristea (@AdriACristiA) April 10, 2019
After 90 frustrating minutes, the Burning Man Twitter account acknowledged the technical issues and reported that the organization was looking into what was causing the crash.
We are experiencing unexpected technical issues with today’s ticket sale. We’re sorry for the difficulty and are looking into what happened. We will share more info when it’s available. #burningman #ticketing #blackrockcity #brc2019 #bmantickets
— Burning Man (@burningman) April 10, 2019
Billboard reached out to representatives for ShowClix and Burning Man for comment and did not receive a response. We will update this article if one is made available.