Do you ever wonder how thousands upon thousands of concert tickets make their way to StubHub mere minutes after going on sale to the general public? Yeah, us too.
For the longest time the general assumption has been that scalpers/touts are a step ahead of everyone, using bots to bypass Captcha technology to snap up seats that could be sold for vast profit on the secondary market.
However, many have also harboured sneaky suspicions there are larger, more sinister forces in play, in the form of the promoters putting on the concerts in the first place. In one instance, those suspicions appear to have been confirmed by a leaked audio recording of a call between a major ticket retailer and a band associated plotting to arrange for chunks of tickets to go directly to the likes of StubHub.
Billboard reports on a plan to place 88,000 tickets for Metallica’s 2017 WorldWired North American stadium tour on resale sites, at inflated costs, before fans had the opportunity to purchase them at face value.
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A secret phone call recording, heard in full by Billboard, between Live Nation president of US concerts Bob Roux and a little-known event promotor “who had been tasked by an associate of the band” to bring the tickets to StubHub et al.
Roux is heard to say “Ticketmaster will not do it,” and goes onto explain that any plan to plant the tickets must be hidden. The suggestion was, according to the recording, that “either a Live Nation employee or a venue box office basically take these and sell them into a singular account.”
Roux reportedly added that: “When this happens, 4,600 tickets into a single account there may be some eyebrows that get raised.”
Shockingly, Live Nation has admitted to Billboard that it has indeed facilitated the transfer of these tickets to the secondary market at the request of artists. It says between 2016 and 2017 “about a dozen artists out of the thousands we work with asked us to do this.”
However, the company, which owns venues but sells its tickets through Ticketmaster, says the instances have decreased to “virtually zero” in the last couple of years. Instead, promoters have turned to “tools like dynamic pricing, platinum seats and VIP packages have proven to be more effective at recapturing value previously lost to the secondary market.”
According to the report, the deal with Metallica and Live Nation saw both parties earn 40% of the resale value each, with the remaining percentage split between Metallica’s ticketing consultant Tony DiCioccio and Vaughn Millette, a former Live Nation executive who alerted Billboard to the recordings. A representative for the band said it wasn’t aware of the deal.
If this annoys you, you can take comfort in the fact Millette actually lost money on the efforts to sell the tickets and some were discounted below face value.