Michael Rushton discusses the problem with giving away tickets:
But the fact is that arts (and sports) organizations can’t always fill the house even by giving away tickets. Attendance at a concert or museum is costly to the customer even with free admission, because there are costs of time and travel to consider. If someone gives me a ticket to a play, I still have to consider the cost to me of using my evening at the theatre rather than elsewhere, and the time of getting to the theatre and back. And sometimes it just isn’t worth it. Ask yourself: how many cultural and recreation activities are available in your town, with no admission fee, that you simply do not attend? If, like me, you are only allotted 24 hours in a day, there will be many. Even physical goods come with a storage cost, such that when offered “free” goods we often turn them down – they are not worth the space they would occupy.
and that question, “Ask yourself: how many cultural and recreation activities are available in your town, with no admission fee, that you simply do not attend?” goes back to the issue I raised in my post, Free culture, undercutting, and the environments they create. Also I touched on some of this issue of giving in my post about Declining Audiences in Sports–one of the pieces I linked to specifically addresses the phenomenon in the NBA: Why can’t NBA teams fill arenas, even after giving away free tickets?
Nobody has a monopoly on selling out events these days, and it’s probably only going to get more difficult.