“Experience is what you get, when you don’t get what you wanted”- Randy Pausch.
Remember how I was going to be camping, chanting and partying at Indio this year?… Well that didn’t happen. A combination of my own stupidity mixed with the American bureaucracy in Mexico gave way to me finding myself visa-less a couple of days before my flight departed.
Saying that I panicked and went head first into a full-fledged depression is putting it lightly. Music is a very serious business in my life, and Coachella has been an unatainable dream for a while… Anyways, I had to hustle; otherwise it meant losing good money. I found out Sunday night that I wasn’t making it; which meant I had little under 4 days to resell the whole package. I bought my place through a Mexican agency, and they were nice enough to let me transfer it, if I managed to sell it in under two days.
The twitter machine was turned on, some minor twitstar friends helped me contact some bigger ones who Retweeted my promotional messages, I contacted some others myself and had no problem getting the message out. It was quite cool to see rows and rows of random strangers helping me out with the broadcast. I made sure to thank everyone that helped. In the end I made contact with around 5 possible buyers… who backed out at the last minute.
The next day I tried contacting everyone, and I mean EVERY SINGLE PERSON I knew who I had ever heard talking about Coachella. Again, I got a couple of potential buyers who backed out in the end… Two days had gone by, so I could no longer transfer the flights, my mother and cousin were nice enough to help me cancel them so I can use them some other time (I still have no idea why I would want to make my way to TJ before October… but that’s better than losing them entirely). Since I could now sell to anyone, I arranged for my wristband and pass to go to Indio with the agency people and decided to go straight to the source of demand for tickets: The Coachella forums and Craigslist.
I had to figure out fast what the going rate for tickets and camping spaces were and I had to sell them together, since the tent spaces are tied to the wristbands. I soon found out sellers were making profits, even though the offer/demand rate was almost 1 to 1. I attempted going for a steeper price, and listed that everywhere; this just got me into some very tough conversations with buyers trying to get me down to less than face value. That’s when it hit me: I had to go down to face value, simply because that was fair, and I wanted to sell to someone who believed in this, and not to the kind of people I had been talking to.
I reposted, Craigslist is a tad complicated on this, since it does not let you spam a message all over the boards. So I had to be smart and change the structure of my posts in order to avoid getting them blocked (this is done automatically, I’m guessing by algorithm, so it is not THAT hard), I also had to be smart on how I typed in my email, so it didn’t get censored. The Coachella forum is a pretty easy hack, it lets you know how many people are looking at each board and the messages are shown in the order they were posted, moving up again if they get replies. I just had to keep a steady flow of broadcasts in the two forums with the most views (passes and camping). I posted every hour and got new messages without fail.
I must have talked to at least fifty people, I started operations at 7am on Thursday a day before the festival, hung over and tired as I was, I spent the day shooting emails back and forth. I couldn’t call potential buyers and I couldn’t meet them, they had to pick up the wristband and pass at a hotel and I wanted a PayPal transfer; which made me sound like the biggest scammer, this I figured out fast, so I started easing the topic into conversations. Still, compromising was hard, evidently I wanted money first, while my buyers wanted to make sure it was legit. I was as scared of a runner as they were of a scammer.
It took me around ten hours to figure out that in this point in time Internet transactions are as much about trusting as they are about being trustworthy. I shot emails with a hilarious guy for about five hours, I ended up selling to him. I let him pay as soon as he saw everything was legit, I took the risk of him running, but he made his way to Indio risking it as well, since I could have been scamming. In the end, our transaction was a whooping success (with some minor logistics hiccups), I got the money I paid for, and he got a wristband and camping space. We also had fun dealing with each other and said our farewells with good wishes and jokes.
I’m not happy I couldn’t make it to Coachella, but all in all: the learning experience was a pretty cool silver lining.