Catastrophic Technological Failure

Showclix CEO To Frustrated Kraftwerk Ticket Buyers: “Ultimately, We Failed Many Of You”

By Maura Johnston Thu., Feb. 23 2012 at 3:30 PM Comments (4)

Categories: Catastrophic Technological Failure, Kraftwerk, MOMA

The CEO of Showclix—the ticketing company that handled yesterday’s ticketing process for the Museum of Modern Art’s eight-night series of Kraftwerk shows, during which quite a few people got stuck in waiting rooms and took to Twitter to describe their sell-out-rage in detail—has posted an open letter to those people who feel they were let down by his company. “Ultimately, we failed many of you,” wrote Joshua Dziabiak, who while noting that there were no actual outages also said that one of the company’s queuing servers “bubbled-up under the heavy load and caused frequent timeouts.”

It’s worth pointing out that, according to the letter, tickets to the eight shows sold out in approximately one hour; in the era of large venues being sold out in minutes thanks to people bum-rushing, that timespan seems almost camp-out-at-Tower-era slow—especially for a series of shows that could only sell tickets to “approximately 1.20%” of the “tens and tens of thousands of people” exasperatedly tweeting and hitting refresh. The full text below.

Dear Kraftwerk fans,

Sorry it took me a day to write this, but it was important for me to first understand all of the facts so they could be properly communicated. First and foremost, we are deeply sorry for the frustration and massive inconvenience that yesterday’s on-sale for Kraftwerk caused for many of their great fans around the world. I recognize that so many of you spent hours in front of your computer watching a spinning wheel–or watching the page go blank. Please allow me to explain what happened and what we’ll do to correct this for the future:

MoMA has been a really great partner of ShowClix for over a year now, and we’ve worked with them to move tens of thousands of tickets successfully. They leaned on us to help them with this on-sale, which was a special event for them, and we let them (and you) down. ShowClix has successfully executed many very large, high-demand on-sales over the past five years that we’ve been in business. Most of these on-sales have a high demand, with a great deal of inventory to sell. Kraftwerk’s eight-night performance on-sale was a very unique situation. While we’re not able to disclose the number of tickets that were available for these performances, what I will say is that of the tens and tens of thousands of die-hard Kraftwerk fans from around the world that logged on at exactly noon EST yesterday to get these tickets, the venue capacity restrictions would only ever allow approximately 1.20% of them to actually be reserved. As you might imagine, this is an extremely large technical hurdle, particularly because of the tiny fraction of supply versus the demand.

Still, this is no excuse. We should have never advised MoMA to allow the tickets to be sold in the fashion in which they were, because in the end–even if everything were to go smoothly–many people would have been very disappointed. ShowClix didn’t set the proper expectations from the beginning, nor did we properly prepare our load balancing servers in order to prevent the queue from timing out. Ultimately, we failed many of you.

Since yesterday, we have discovered that a single setting within one of the lower levels of our queuing system’s middleware bubbled-up under the heavy load and caused frequent timeouts. There were also some issues with the broadcast system which allows us to communicate with ticket buyers while they’re waiting in the queue. We should have both of these problems resolved by the end of this week. However, even with these problems resolved, it is my belief moving forward that we should not perform an on-sale all at once for an event or venue that has such small capacity restrictions versus potential demand. Instead, we will advise our clients on various alternative methods to fairly sell tickets to an event that has such a small fraction of inventory available versus the potential demand.

There were certainly technical problems around this event. Contrary to some reports, however, our servers never crashed or went offline, and none of our other clients or their events experienced a problem during the Kraftwerk on-sale. We always keep high-demand on-sales separate from all of the other activity happening on our server. It’s also important to note that there were online sales successfully processing the entire time, and all eight of the events sold-out in approximately 60 minutes.

In closing, regardless of what the technical problem was–or how we plan to solve it in the future–we haven’t overlooked the incredible amount of frustration many people felt from the on-sale. We take full responsibility. This company was founded and continues to be run by a big team of live entertainment and technology addicts. We feel for you, the fans, and our partner, MoMA, and vow to work hard to prevent such a debacle from happening again in the future.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Joshua Dziabiak


ShowClix, Inc.


Uri Dalal 0 minutes ago

How mortified do you think Ralph Hütter is that of all groups in the world to piss off their fans or let them down via something technological or through (forgive the awful cliché) our HOME COMPUTERS beaming us into the TIMED OUT MESSAGE it’s Kraftwerk. Let us keep in mind that I have (since 1974) NEVER heard anything remotely negative about this group. Maybe they’ll do something special to make it up to us. Especially those of us that had to miss the Minimum-Maximum gig because they were under contract to do a gig of their own and one thing he needs to do before he dies is see the most brilliant band on earth! And a real volcano. Edit Reply

Uri Dalal 0 minutes ago

I love that what they’re willing to do to make it up to us is make sure it doesn’t happen in the future. Well, WHOOP-E-DEE-DOOOO! Did anyone else catch the MoMA ‘leaned’ on us to do this gig comment? Who runs the MoMA? Tony Soprano? Edit Reply

guest 16 hours ago

Thanks for reopening old wounds. I’d already forgotten the hour plus I spent starving and unable to urinate for fear of leaving my mesmorizing spinning queue icon. 1 person liked this. Like Reply

Shanolh 15 hours ago

Yup. I got to the screen that allowed me to select the number of tickets and “get tickets.” Needless to say, the tickets were never got. An hour to sell out all tickets? That makes me think they were all sold over the phone (despite it being an “online only” sale) or sold to folks within ShowClix’s network and celebrities only. 1 person liked this. Like Reply

Mofongo Maniac 15 hours ago

It really sucks to know that the tickets sold out in an hour and most people who were logged on at exactly 11:59:59 could not get a single ticket to a single show. When I called ShowClix, the representative told me that they only released 150 tickets PER SHOW to be sold. This number has been confirmed by others on the internet who also spoke to ShowClix representatives. So what’s the story? How many tickets were actually sold? What is the capacity of the MoMA atrium? Who exactly was able to get tickets? There’s definitely something fishy going on here.

2 people liked this. Like Reply

Depechetraff 12 hours ago

Tens of thousands? So let’s say 90,000 people at the most were trying to get tickets. If only 1.2% of people could get tickets, that’s only 1080 tickets available. Less than 150 per night. I know the atrium is small, but it’s not that small. The VIP phoneys get the tickets and the fans get the shaft…

Catastrophic Technological Failure

“What’s The Presale Code Again?”: A Guide To The Five Stages Of Ticketing Grief In 2012

The machines will always get you in the end.

In an effort to “keep up,” I follow a lot of New York-based music fans on Twitter. Which means that whenever tickets go on sale for an important show, whether at a venue large or small—Pulp at Radio City Music Hall, LCD Soundsystem at MSG, today’s release of tickets for April’s series of Kraftwerk shows at the Museum of Modern Art—I hear a pronounced hue and cry from those people who were sold out of the shows for whatever reason, be it an inconveniently scheduled meeting, a browser failure, or a third-party ticketing site that just couldn’t handle the onslaught of requests from ravenous fans. Having studied this phenomenon up close (too close!) for months now, and in anticipation of a lot of people being shut out of those Kraftwerk shows, I present a tweaked version of the Kübler-Ross model—the five stages of grief one experiences when, despite having top-flight technology and disposable income (and maybe even connections), one gets sold out of a show s/he really, really wanted to attend. Clip it out, save it for later, pass it to your friends who are going on Tweet rampages. 1. ALIENATION. Onset: After receiving the first IM from a so-called “friend” of yours who didn’t share the presale code with you and who scored a pair of sweet seats. Symptoms: Cryptic Facebook status updates about being able to count on people; ; halfhearted visits to’s “Learn About Our Cards” page; desire to write screed about how the capitalistic takeover of music has produced nothing but a bunch of shitty bands that rest on their laurels and/or mine the nostalgia circuit. Expected expiration date: Right before the on-sale date for the norms. Because you can’t get shut out of the whole show, right?


Onset: Immediately after the show is completely sold out to those people who didn’t have a presale-code in, which could be as quickly as 90 seconds after the on-sale time. Symptoms: Angry tweets; creation of pissed-off Facebook group that might attract one or two other members; sudden rush of solidarity with anonymous Brooklyn Vegan commenters who you normally think of as knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers; quickie analysis of the crap web servers used to host this important sale; looking up contact info for Arnold “Shame On You” Diaz, who will expose the thieving scalper bastards who scooped up all the seats. Expected expiration date: Whenever the next big concert you want to attend is announced.


Onset: A month before the show, when you’re reminded that you didn’t get tickets by an anticipatory blurt from someone who did. Symptoms: “Whatever, I read a review that the show sucked anyway”; scheduling something super fun for that evening. Expected expiration date: See below.


Onset: Three or four days before the show or whenever your super fun activity partner cancels, whichever comes first. Symptoms: Checking the ticketing site because “venues always release tickets at the last minute”; staring long and hard at bank balance/budget and figuring out how much you can afford to pay and still keep the lights on/stay at least somewhat fed; cryptic Facebook status updates about being able to count on people. Expected expiration date: When you realize that standing outside the venue with a single finger pointed toward the sky is probably not that good of a look. Especially if it’s cold out.


Onset: About an hour after doors. Symptoms: Flicking through Twitter and thinking, “oh, right, that was tonight.” Expected expiration date: Immediate—because no matter what your genre proclivities might be, if you’re into live music and live in New York City, there’ll always be another sold-out event off in the distance, taunting you with its utter unavailability.


Uri Dalal

1 day ago

Thank you for making me laugh because I was crying all day about not getting tickets. There were no presale codes, we just kept getting dropped by the site after ‘waiting’ in the ‘virtual line’ for an hour. A half hour later everything was sold out. So much for seeing a first of it’s kind groundbreaking retrospective of the most important electronic band of all time.

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