The move may drive up the price of front row seats when they start going to the highest bidder, but some analysts say the impact would likely be minimal since the best tickets for the hottest shows are already costing a fortune on the secondary ticketing market.

In fact, for some harder-to-sell ducats, such as shed lawn tickets, auctioning could actually result in lower-than-face-value ticketing in some instances.

But what this likely means is that for smaller events, frequently touring mid-level artists and those with particularly loyal fans who attend several shows a year, the ticket auction may not be as viable an option as it would be for, say, a tour by The Rolling Stones.

The idea gains a lot of traction when one considers the vast amount of tickets sold through the secondary market, including over the Internet, for many times over face value.

One problem TM hopes to reduce, if not eliminate, is counterfeit or otherwise illegitimate tickets being sold through online auctioneering.

“There’s a lot of issues with legitimacy and making sure the fans are buying legitimate tickets,” a TM spokesperson told POLLSTAR. “That really comes into play with online auction houses where you don’t know. Also, with sporting events or concerts, there’s no way of predicting when it might get canceled.”

In the event of cancellations, one big advantage of bidding for tickets through TM is that the buyer will be eligible for a refund, unlike most tickets purchased on the secondary market.

“(If) the ticket’s no good, there’s no recourse to get your money back (in the secondary market). … It’s our ticketing and it’s our technology that enables refunds. So, basically, what we are providing the client is the safety and security in knowing that if they choose to use the service, that their consumers will automatically have legitimate tickets.”

With TM conducting some of the sales by auction over its site, it signals an attempt by the music industry to regain control over the dollars it considers rightfully its own to begin with.

“Ticketmaster is more a business-to-business store than a consumer one. We’ve developed the technology more out of a need from our clients,” the spokesperson explained, noting that venues and promoters approached TM with the idea.

“I think more and more, our clients – the promoters, the clients in the buildings and the bands themselves – are saying to themselves, `Maybe that money should be coming to me instead of Bob the Broker,'” TM President/CEO John Pleasants told The New York Times.

Some artist managers and promoters are cautiously supportive of TM’s idea, and some of that support is coming from surprising quarters.

A rep from Madison House, the management and booking arm of The String Cheese Incident – which is currently suing TM in a dispute over the release of large blocks of tickets to artist fan clubs for direct sale – said that while the band likely wouldn’t participate, the plan could work well for others.

“Our understanding right now is that there would be a conversation between the artist and the promoter and venue,” Madison’s Carrie Lombardi told POLLSTAR. “As long as that’s the case, more power to them.”

TM confirmed that indeed will be the case.

“Unless our clients – being the promoter, the venue, sporting team, the band – are in agreement they want to do this with their tickets, we wouldn’t do it. We just have the system in order to enable it,” TM’s spokesperson said.

Princeton University economics professor Alan B. Krueger, who has studied ticket prices for POLLSTAR, called the open auction a “positive development.”

“For the top artists, tickets are still sold below what the market would bear, even though prices have shot up over the last six years,” Krueger told POLLSTAR. “This is especially the case for the best seats in the most expensive cities.

“If the auction is widely used, I suspect price variability will increase; we will see greater dispersion in prices across artists, across cities and seats for the same artist, and across venue types. Performances in large stadiums, which have not been selling out, may well see their prices drop if most tickets are distributed in an auction.”

Krueger also noted that economic factors won’t be the sole force at play when it comes to open-auction ticketing; social forces will be a factor, as well.

“Some artists … like to give back value to their fans in the form of below-market prices,” Krueger said.

“Interestingly, my survey of scalping suggests that Bruce Springsteen succeeds in this regard, as most of his fans hold on to their tickets rather than re-sell them through scalpers for higher prices. I suspect that artists who believe it is important to keep their prices affordable for most fans will continue to do so by continuing to distribute most tickets at fixed prices, or by distributing tickets at reduced prices to their fan clubs.

“In the post-Ticketmaster-auction era, I hope artists will also find other creative ways to give back value to society. For example, they can commit to donate X percent of the revenue they raise from selling their tickets in an auction to charity or to a political cause – or maybe for scholarships for low-income children to attend a college or university,” Krueger explained.

TM successfully tested the system, which has been about 18 months in development, in June for a Lennox Lewis fight at the in Los Angeles, according to TM, with a package of tickets, autographed gloves and other perks going for $7,000.

Once the auction service goes live, TM will receive flat fees or a percentage of the winning bids, to be decided with the operators of each event, Sean Moriarty, TM’s executive VP for products, technology and operations, told the Times.