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The Secondary Market/Resale and A Guide to Consider…


Coming to you live from my deck as the boy rests up for his opening soccer tournament of the season. 

At the bottom, I share an example of a classical organization offering an auto-renew subscription. 

I’m curious what y’all think. 

I’m trying to work through a bunch of articles and other ideas that have been on the back burner. 


To the Tickets!

Gary Adler talks with Pitchfork about ticket resale

One big point here that I agree with: the thing standing between even worse outcomes for ticket buyers in the current environment is a robust secondary market. 

Without it, ticket buyers would be even more screwed than they already are. 

The Cure tour proved that bands that legitimately want to make a system work where tickets get to their fans at a price that they deem fair is possible. 

But if you aren’t The Cure, do you really have a chance to do that? 

A statistic that wasn’t listed here is that over half of the tickets resold for less than face value. 

I think this tells us a few things:

  • The value of some tickets doesn’t hold or is driven by speculation of future value. (This is true of professional resellers and primary ticket buyers that hope to resell their tickets to recoup some of their initial investment.)
  • Deceptive pricing/false scarcity works to sell tickets. As we are seeing in other places, this is beginning to get more attention
  • There is a tremendous amount of professional reselling/speculative purchasing/other unused but purchased inventory that is propping up the business models of primary ticket platforms/teams/venues/etc. 

One stat I like to look at with clients “scan rate”. 


Because if your sales rate is high, but your scan rate is low…that means that you are going to be fighting a battle of attrition that you might ultimately lose and you won’t know when. 

As a venue/team/etc., you have to focus on not just the sale of the ticket, but creating the environment that will get you the highest marriage between the sales rate and the scan rate. 

It is not uncommon for me to see numbers around 40% scan through…even if your sell through rate is 90% that leaves you with only less than 35% of your seats full. 

For the secondary market, will you ever really eliminate resale? 

The Cure has come about as close as I have seen it, but even then you could still find a ticket. 

Where there is a will, there is a way. 

A question I get a lot from folks: How should I approach working with the secondary market? 

Easy answer: there’s no right or wrong answer. 

It is a strategic decision that needs to work for you. 

Here are some common considerations I offer people:

  • What does success look like for your business? (Do you want more revenue? Do you need more reach? Do you need to discount? Etc.) 
  • Have you ever worked with a secondary market partner before? (The answer will temper your thinking.) 
  • Do you know what limits or restrictions you want to put on your inventory? (You definitely want to do this. There are brand costs to low prices or high prices. There are demand issues that can arise if things are too low or too high.) 
  • What does the scope of the relationship look like from your POV? (Limited? Full scale? Something in between?) 
  • Do you want limits on distribution? Do you want full distribution? (Again, be really considerate of this decision. From a secondary market POV, the take is almost always “all distribution is good distribution.” For you, that may not be true.) 
  • A price floor? A price ceiling? (Again, think of your brand. Again, think about success to you.) 
  • Do you want data? What data do you need? 

There are tons more questions to think through. But start here. 

The big key: all of this is negotitable…if someone gives you an ultimatum, to me, the answer is, “no”. 

Big Keys:

  • The secondary market goes back further than Gary’s example of Shakespeare. In my brand management class, I actually saw examples of ticket resale going back to the Roman Empire. 
  • If you are considering working with a secondary partner now for the first time, consider those questions I shared. If you are thinking about whether or not you are getting the maximum out of your secondary partnership, those questions can help you as well. 
  • Pay special attention to the branding implications because people don’t distinguish between the primary and secondary market now, so you want to be really careful that you aren’t undermining your brand without realizing it. 

Other Stuff:

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