Who's Scalping Those Concert Tickets? Artists And Agents, Frequently

The Wall Street Journal reported today that for many big name concert events, the people behind a good deal of the really expensive secondary market tickets are the artists themselves, along with their agents and promoters. Recent concerts where the artists and promoters resold tickets on the secondary market and split the profits with Ticketmaster include Neil Diamond, Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, Van Halen, Billy Joel, Elton John, and possibly Britney Spears.

Although that by itself isn’t exactly the worst thing in the world—artists surely can charge whatever they feel like for tickets if they think customers will buy them—Tickemaster takes great pains to mislead the consumer and hide the true seller from the public on their secondary ticket sites like TicketExchange and TicketsNow:

Joseph Freeman, Ticketmaster’s senior vice president for legal affairs, says that the company’s “Marketplace” pages only rarely list tickets offered by fans.

Virtually every major concert tour today involves some official tickets that are priced and sold as if they were offered for resale by fans or brokers, but that are set aside by the artists and promoters, according to a number of people involved in the sales.

The WSJ story notes that for a recent Britney Spears concert, secondary market tickets priced at over $1000 were “offered in small batches, each at a price, such as $1,164.01, that mimics prices set via online auctions,” and marketed with the phrase, “Browse premium seats plus tickets posted by fans.” Ticketmaster removed the “fans” line after WSJ contacted them with questions.

We think when artists sell tickets, they should announce whether they’re selling the inflated tickets themselves. It’s not like that’s gonna turn away superfans who’ll pay out the nose—Prince is quite transparent in his astronomical ticket prices, and he doesn’t exactly play to empty houses.

The recent Bruce Stringsteen ticket fiasco didn’t involve such reselling—Springsteen said through his manager that “we do not ever release tickets to the secondary ticket market nor do we ever accept payment from them.” But otherwise, if it’s a major act and you think it’s a random, faceless person on the other side of the page gouging you for tickets, it’s quite possibly the artist doing it, with Ticketmaster helping to hide their identity.

“Concert Tickets Get Set Aside, Marked Up by Artists, Managers “ [Wall Street Journal] (Thanks to Ibid!)
(Photos: Jon Bon Jovi, Anirudh Koul; Celine Dion, Anirudh Koul; Billy Joel, Samira Khan; Dr. Rockso, Anirudh Koul)