An Open Letter to Fans and Partners on Ticket Reselling

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Ticket reselling websites have become a significant way for fans to purchase live event tickets. Today, we estimate that about 20% of the tickets that Ticketmaster sells on behalf of our clients are resold in the secondary market.

Ticket reselling is happening, and it is here to stay. When done right, ticket reselling is a legitimate distribution channel that meets the needs of real fans. If we ignore resale as an industry, it will continue to exist in an uncontrolled, unsanctioned world and the bad parts will only get worse.

The resale market exists because ticket pricing is not perfectly efficient; supply and demand change over time, and some fans wait until the last minute to make the decision as to whether or not they can go to an event. The local ticket brokerage model has been built on this, providing services for niche groups of customers who seek unique experiences at various price points that the market will bear at any given time. Usually, this is done in a way that is legal. However, it’s important to point out that, sadly, there are still operators doing things that are unfair and illegal—ticket nefarious brokers who use automated programs just to buy up huge quantities of tickets only to resell to fans for a profit. We are actively fighting to stop this type of activity, because anyone who sells tickets has the right to ensure their tickets are distributed fairly.

Unfortunately, in too many instances, the way ticket resale works today isn’t great for the fan. Fans are often misled or duped by resellers who don’t operate with the fans’ best interests at heart. In fact, we’ve recently seen legislation introduced by the so-called fan freedom group that would actually make it easier for the unscrupulous nefarious brokers to snatch up huge quantities of tickets. Further, there are pervasive marketing practices used in ticket reselling that we, and others, believe are dirty and only trick fans (http://1.usa.gov/kj1gau). The result is that a lot of venues, artists, teams and promoters have understandably been hesitant to get involved in the secondary market. Fans are therefore left to search for resale options on their own, usually in unsanctioned environments where they can’t be sure what they are really buying, and from whom.

And yet the data doesn’t lie, resale is sometimes the option of choice for some fans who only want to go to an event if they can sit in specific seats or for fans who decide to attend at the last minute. As a fan, we know you just want to know what all of your legitimate, authentic and safe options are to go to an event! Show me all the seats available (from best to worst), and show me how much they cost (from least expensive to most expensive). Then let me make the decision to buy the experience that is best for me.

These are some of the reasons why Ticketmaster elected to support the Fans First Coalition (www.standwithfans.org). We know fans just want resale to work the right way, without having it compromise their ability to get reasonably priced tickets to their favorite events. Not everyone likes buying or selling in the resale market, and not every venue or artist wants to participate- that’s okay. It’s all about choices – and if fans, venues and artists choose to get involved in resale, we believe it should be done fairly.

In 2008, Ticketmaster bought a ticket resale company called TicketsNow, recognizing that an increasing number of fans wanted to expand their live entertainment ticket choices through resale ticketing. Initially the companies proceeded to integrate primary and secondary in a way that, while well intentioned, was not up to the standards to which we hold ourselves today. We have learned from those mistakes. We stopped that integration until we felt we could re-invent it in a safe and fan-friendly way. Since then, we have spent two years working and thinking through the way to do resale the right way for our stakeholders; our clients and fans alike. TicketsNow has quietly emerged from that experience into what we believe to be the most fan-friendly and flexible ticket resale platform on the web. We have moved far ahead in our capabilities to present a fan-friendly resale option for both fans and our partners in ticketing. And just to clear up two common misconceptions: Ticketmaster does not move inventory that our clients have entrusted us to sell on the primary market into the resale market—and it is the individual ticket seller, not the TicketsNow.com website, that sets the resale ticket price you see in the TicketsNow marketplace.

As a leader in the live event space, we believe we have a responsibility to move the industry forward. For us, this means making everything in the resale process better for the fan. That means that while we want to help fans find the best, legitimate and authentic options for them to go to their favorite events, both for primary and resold tickets, we also have an obligation to make sure unscrupulous, nefarious brokers don’t cheat the system and take away your choices unfairly (for example, we continue to work to stop bots from taking away huge amounts of tickets and we create ways that make it harder for those types of schemes to cheat fans). And we also want to help our clients participate in the true value of the tickets they sell if they so desire. So in the next few days we will be announcing an option – a choice, not a requirement – for our clients to connect the primary and secondary ticket markets. Stay tuned.

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