Adele and Bruce Springsteen are ready to take on the ticket hubs. Back in December, Springsteen’s concert tickets were already for sale on secondary market sites like StubHub, before they even went on sale to the public. These tickets were marked up five to ten times face value. Devoted fans are being shut out from seeing their favorite musicians and bands. Adele’s North American tour sold out in the matter of minutes. The concert industry must find a way to level the playing field.
In the United States, StubHub is the biggest concert ticket reseller. StubHub gets over twenty million visitors per month. Several secondary market sites like StubHub, TicketNetwork, and Vivid Seats are now under the microscope. The New York attorney general has started an investigation of these sites, because they are “too common, it’s like shorting the market with stocks- selling an option that you don’t have.”
The North American president of Ticketmaster, Jared Smith, stated, “We don’t allow spec selling on any of our sites. It’s leading contributors to fan confusion in the market.” There is not much that primary concert ticket sellers can do to stop these “automated bots.” These “bots” use computer codes to repeat purchases and jump to the head of the line. Smith said his data-science team blocked over one million attempts during Adele’s online ticket sale. The president of StubHub, Scott Cutler, said they shut down these “bots” daily.
Artists have decided to take matters into their own hands. Eric Church has decided to identify repeating resellers by cancelling every purchase that they made. The outcome was that they stopped buying Eric Church concert tickets. One solution they had was to include paperless ticketing. Paperless ticketing would force the concert purchasers to present their ID and credit card in order to be allowed in the venue. Another solution they had was fan club presales, for example, Adele did this along with Songkick. As ironic as it sounds, it’s actually the artists that are against these “bots.”
In 2015 Concerts West started “flex pricing.” For The Rolling Stones Zip Code Tour promoters priced concert tickets high so that the risk was greater than the reward, which was less for the secondary market seller. The co-president of Concerts West, John Meglen said, “We manage it in a way so that the money goes to the artists, not to the brokers, which is better for our industry, the artist and the audience.” The Rolling Stones had the highest concert gross of $7.3 million in 2015.
Touring is the music industry’s cash cow right now. The ticket bots seem like a small hiccup in the big scheme of things. However, they are the biggest problem if you ask me. The true fans that support artists and bands a like are being cheated by secondary ticket sellers and are being forced into paying heavily for concert tickets.