The Big Parasite: The Secondary Ticketing Market

Why do we need tickets? Well, we need them because in one side we have people that demands to attend a concert, and in the other side we have a promoter who puts together the show and needs people to pay for the attendance. The easier, better and most common way of doing this is by printing tickets and start selling them prior to the date of the event.

Tickets have become very important, and the matter of ticketing is one of the things that the concert promoter has to resolve in an early stage so that he/she can start selling them to earn some money that help put up the show. There are many ways of making this happen. Either the promoter can try to print his own tickets and sell them directly to the people interested in the concert, or he/she can look for the option of hiring a third party company to take care of the issuing, distributing and selling of the tickets. As live events have become larger and larger with the pass of the time, the need for these ticketing companies has become more crucial.

There are different companies that offer the service of ticketing, depending on the region and country. However, there is one company that has become the absolute leader of ticketing around the globe. This company is Ticketmaster, with representation in basically all the places of the world where there is a buoyant and energetic entertainment and music industry. In fact, Ticketmaster has become in many places some kind of monopoly when it comes to the physical + online selling of tickets, making it difficult for the promoter to have many options to decide from and therefore having to constraint to the limits and fees that this company has. The Ticketmaster empire has become even bigger and more powerful by merging with the US promoter giant Live Nation.

But there is another issue when approaching the ticketing topic, and it’s a very serious and damaging one. This issue is commonly known as the “secondary ticketing” or the “ticket re-sale”. It happens specially when the tickets for a certain event are sold out and there are still some people very interested in going (and willing to pay for it). This motivates the owners of the tickets that were originally sold, to think about the possibility of re-selling their tickets at a higher price than the “face value” of the ticket, depending on the demand for the show. At the end, the person who originally acquired the ticket doesn’t have the ticket any more but in exchange he earned more money that the one he/she spent, meaning that he/she made a profit!

This opportunity was explored by many others to become a business model in itself, where the “re-sellers” hurry up to buy as many tickets as they can of a very demanded show, wait until the show is sold out and then re-sell the tickets for a higher price and make a profit. This practice has become extremely popular in some countries, taking to the development of specialized websites where people can resale their tickets. And while someone could question how big is the impact of this new “parasite” industry, many studies can answer that the impact can be tremendous, sometimes representing the same amount of money than the event itself.

To solve this problem, that keeps pushing the ticket prices up and making it harder for everyone to pay, there have been different attempts of stopping ticket resale. One of them has been trying to push for legislation to prohibit and prosecute ticket resale, however this way has been very difficult to obtain and complicated to enforce. On the other hand, ticket companies and concert promoters have started to take some new steps to fight against the resale. Perhaps the most effective one has been that of issuing personalized tickets that include the name and picture of the original buyer, and then ask for a photo-id at the door of the concert’s venue.

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