The Arms Race Against Abusive Ticket Scalping
Feb 6, 2023
Scalpers often break the law by using bots to try to get through the ticket buying process faster than humans. Verified Fan makes that impossible. So recently we’ve seen them using bots to try and attack the system itself. While Verified Fan has been a strong defense against bots, we expect them to try to cause issues during onsales. Verified Fan is a direct threat to criminal scalpers trying to cheat fans out of tickets – bad actors would love to discredit it.
We’ve already built new defenses that are working against past tactics. And we will continue to build more. Our team of engineers is standing by in real time to monitor attempted attacks and build new defenses if needed. Fans should be aware that we may need to slow or pause an onsale to defend against a cyber attack in real time. This helps us monitor traffic and reject suspicious activity. If this occurs, we will communicate what is happening in real time so fans know what to expect.
Many artists price their tickets below their market value so they are more affordable for fans. This creates huge incentives to resell tickets for much higher — so much so that the concert resale market is now a $5 billion industry in the United States as a direct result.
Experts like economist Eric Budish from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business have presented to the FTC on ways to fix this issue. You can read his whole presentation here. We agree on, and have advocated for many of the same solutions, including a mix of options like:
Ticketmaster is one of the only ticketing companies building new tools to defeat illegal scalper tactics. Verified Fan is one of the best tools to get tickets to fans who want to attend the show, not resell the tickets. In fact, historically Verified Fan onsales see only about 5% of tickets end up on the secondary market, which is lower than the 20-30% which is typical for non-Verified Fan onsales. We’ve also built things like the fan-to-fan face value exchange that tours can use to give fans options to resell their tickets if they can’t attend – but only at the price they paid with no markup. Unfortunately, some of these tools are being banned in some states like New York and Colorado, where laws have been passed allowing for unlimited resale. These laws sound fan friendly, but really benefit scalpers more than anyone.
Artists and other content owners have a right to establish pricing that they think is best for their fans and their careers. They have a right to offer a variety of price points, setting some seats at “premium” prices and others at lower prices for those who can’t afford going market value on resale marketplaces. It’s time to respect the choices made by those whose artistry and talents make the live event possible – not tilt the playing field in favor of scalpers who care about nothing but making a profit on tickets (and in the process take advantage of tickets that were priced lower to benefit fans). On the front end, this means respecting an artist’s choice to price some tickets at or close to their full market value. And on the back end, it means allowing artists to restrict or condition transferability so that fewer onsales are targeted by scalpers using bots. Artists will make the choices that are best for themselves and their fans. Scalpers never will.
Not everyone who resells tickets acquires them by cheating, and reselling tickets is legal in the United States. But, it’s time to put a stop to scalpers using bots to get tickets illegally. This practice is unfair to fans and artists. That’s why we supported the passage of the 2016 BOTS Act and have long advocated for tougher enforcement of existing anti-bot legislation and new penalties for violations.