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Embrace “The And” #1: The Ticket Resale Market…


Earlier I wrote about wanting to embrace “the and” as a tool to overcome procrastination and to push through when you get stuck.

What I am going to do is take some topics that are either on my mind or that are popping up in the popular business culture and embrace “the and” to help see what kind of interesting ideas I can generate and share.

My first one will be the “secondary” ticket market or reselling tickets…

Here goes nothing:

The secondary ticket market is often a scapegoat for all things happening in the world of tickets and here are 3 ideas why the secondary market shouldn’t be a scapegoat or the only scapegoat:

Any market that lacks transparency is ripe for abuse: 

In many cases, ticket brokers are given the short end of the stick on consumer sentiment because consumers don’t understand what is really going on in the ticket market.

That’s by design.

As much as teams, venues, and artists claim that they have the fans’ or consumers’ best interests in mind, the primary driver of any decision is profit.

Profit is a good thing, don’t get me wrong.

But when profit is the primary thing, incentives become very much out of line.

I fall into the Peter Drucker category of thought, “which is that your job is to create and keep customers.”

And, that profit is an offshoot of your ability to deliver something of value to your customers.

In tickets, too often, fans and consumers aren’t views as customers…only marks.

Take, for instance, the way that Taylor Swift offered her fans’ boosts during her Verified Fan pre-sale.

No one is holding making money against Taylor Swift, but her fans did feel a little like they had been baited and switched if you looked online at the time.

This is just one example, but in many cases, brokers take the brunt of the abuse for a system that rewards opaqueness.

And, any market that is opaque is open to abuse.

Teams, promoters, acts, and venues all use the secondary market to mitigate risk: 

This can take many forms.

You have the Eventellect deal with the Dodgers or any other number of consolidation deals where teams bundle their tickets to one broker.

You have partnerships between teams, promoters, or venues to consign tickets so that they can dynamically price seats up or down and protect the brand image of the partner in question.

You have acts that look to sell seats to brokers in advance as a way to hedge against poor sales.

On and on and on.

The thing is that this isn’t anything new. It is more widely talked about, but it is has been going on since I got started in the ticket business back in 2002.

This risk mitigation strategy is happening because while profits are high, selling tickets is more of a challenge than ever before.

All you have to do is look at the Empty Seats Galore twitter account on any given night and you will see that sold out isn’t a common thing these days.

Where consumers get frustrated is, they are more likely to complain about the high prices of tickets openly…but they very rarely say anything about prices below face value.


It is the same phenomenon that happens when someone is hiring a consultant, no one ever wants to say, “Look at my consultant, I got him cheap.”

That’s the same thing with a ticket, in most cases.

The customer isn’t always right: 

As I alluded to above, you don’t really see people shouting from the rooftops how cheaply they got something.

Unless the bargain is something that they can take pride in.

Most of the time, you like to shout about the access you got, or the fact that you could get in, or something that allows you a bit of pride.

Which brings me to the flip side of things…some people are always going to complain.

Many times, the complaints about ticket brokers and resale comes back to the idea that “prices are just too high.”

In some cases, the prices for a ticket are high.

In many cases, the prices aren’t that high at all.

I’ve seen or heard studies that show that on average more than half of the tickets sold on the secondary market go for lower than face value.

That jives with my experience.

Which means that on the other half, they must be selling for above face value. It is typically this half of the market that gets people worked up.

But I’d argue that in a lot of cases people are going to argue about pricing no matter what.

Take for example, this summer’s Pearl Jam stadium tour of the US. The tickets are around $100.

I’d say a reasonable price for a limited run show at a few really special venues.

But in the Pearl Jam fan club Facebook group, there is a minority of fans that are bitching about everything the band does.

“Eddie has sold out playing the Oscars.”

“They shouldn’t be working with Ticketmaster.”

“The prices are too expensive.”

I mean this is one act, but from working with organizations around the world, I know that this isn’t exclusive to the Pearl Jam community.

In fact, I’d probably argue that they are less likely to have this happen.

The point is that sometimes the secondary market gets the finger pointed at them because the prices are “too high.”

And, in many cases, I’m sure that a lot of these people would find something to complain about if the ticket was free.


That’s my first crack at embracing “the and.” What do you think?