An Undercover Investigation Exposes Ticketmaster for Price Hacking Music Fans


Friday, September 21st, 2018 |

If you’re a fan of the live music experience, chances are that at some point you’ve tried to buy tickets as soon as they went on sale, only to learn that they’re no longer available for purchase. This is the work professional scalpers. Scalpers have been robbing fans for decades and making millions of dollars in the process. Now we also have ticket bots taking the scalping game to a whole other level of shady business dealings.

In 2016, President Obama signed into law a nationwide ban on ticket-bots titled “Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016.” The law made it illegal to use bots or software to purchase tickets, which would ultimately give the general public (aka fans) equal access to events. Ticketmaster threw their support behind the law. “On behalf of artists, venues, teams, and especially fans, Ticketmaster is pleased that the BOTS Act is now a federal law,” Ticketmaster stated. “Ticketmaster worked closely with legislators to develop the BOTS Act and we believe its passage is a critical step in raising awareness and regulating the unauthorized use of Bots.” A month prior, Live Nation (parent company of Ticketmaster) was caught up in a ticket scandal in Italy over reports that the company partnered with secondary ticketing partners to sell tickets at vastly inflated prices.

Scalping is big business that makes a lot of money. Reselling, double dipping on commissions and booking fees, we’re now learning via an investigation by CBC News and the Toronto Star that Ticketmaster is in on the game too. The revelation came after journalists pretended to be scalpers at a live entertainment convention this summer in Las Vegas. The undercover report outlines how Ticketmaster reportedly pitched them on its underground professional resale program, through which it takes a cut of profits.

They were told that Ticketmaster’s resale division turns a blind eye to scalpers who use ticket-buying bots and fake identities to snatch up tickets and then resell them on the site for inflated prices. Those pricey resale tickets include extra fees for Ticketmaster. “I have brokers that have literally a couple of hundred accounts,” one sales representative said. “It’s not something that we look at or report.”

How wonderfully scandalous, reminding me of that quote attributed to Hunter S. Thompson about the music industry (which was actually about television, but rings true in this industry as well), “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.”

You can read about the CBC News and the Toronto Star investigation here.


Get the latest news and updates.


Subscribe

Testimonials

The Winter Music Conference represents a chance for Beatport to connect directly with our customer community. Having a strong conference means we have a platform to embrace the entire spectrum of electronic music culture. We are proud to support the resurgence of this great event.


Jonas Tempel

Beatport, Co-Founder

I first went to WMC ’87, the year I started Big Beat. It was an incredibly inspiring congregation of indie labels, DJs, artists, songwriters, producers and dance music lovers dedicated to breaking and discovering new music. WMC has been instrumental in furthering the dance and electronic cause; keeping the community connected, vital and relevant, and serving as an amazing springboard for talent. It’s a fantastic crucible for the future of dance music. Long may it live.


Craig Kallman

CEO & Co-Chairman Atlantic Records, Founder Big Beat Records

Before there was Ultra Music Festival, there was The Winter Music Conference, the annual coming together of the dance music tribes. Miami in March is a fundamental place to be from a business perspective, and has always given me endless opportunities for discovering new partnerships and talent. WMC brings together the dance music industry and surrounding culture like no other event in America. I’ve been attending WMC for nearly 20 years, and I’m very much looking forward to experiencing its evolution in 2019.


Matt Colon

Director, North America - YM&U Music

WMC is and has always been the lifeblood of the dance music scene. Never missed a year since ’96, I can’t imagine Amsterdam Dance Event or Ibiza Music Summit existing without the blueprint that WMC originated. Seeing this revived is absolutely essential to reunifying the North American scene surrounding electronic music and its fringes.


Tommie Sunshine

Producer/DJ/Activist/Netflix Host

Winter Music Conference was the cream of the crop of conferences. Every label owner, label A&R, DJ and artist knew they had to go network at the Fontainebleau where the conference was hosted. The conference was not only one of the most important time of the year as it relates to dance music but it was also a place where records were broken and became summer hits. Some of my best DJ memories are from the events I played during WMC in the last 20 years.


Erick Morillo

DJ / Producer / Label Boss - Subliminal Records