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Where do Ticket Scalpers Get Their Tickets?

Nine Inch Nails’ lead singer Trent Reznor has not been shy in the past about airing his opinion about other musicians or the music industry in general.  More often than not, he’s been the one willing to talk about the elephant in the room that everyone else ignores.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone – let alone Nine Inch Nails fans – when TRENT POSTED A MESSAGE ON THE OFFICIAL NINE INCH NAILS MESSAGE BOARD explaining exactly what happens when NIN goes on tour with regards to what they do to minimize ticket scalping.  As part of Trent’s post, he includes a number of links to ticket scalping-related news articles that offer additional insight to the problem.

It’s refreshing to hear a band’s opinion of the whole mess. Here’s what Trent has to say about how the whole thing works:

  • The band decides to tour and selects a venue (such as an outdoor amphitheatre).  The amphitheatre owner is most likely going to be the local promoter as well, so the band sells the show to the promoter in order to play the venue. 
  • The promoter is the one who decides where the tickets are going to be sold (Ticketmaster or some other service)
  • If the show is proving to be extremely popular with a huge upside on possible ticket pricing – rather than charging what the market will bear, a decision is made to keep ticket prices affordable.  This leaves money on the table…. so everybody involved with the show (the venue, promoter, ticketing agency, and sometimes the artist/management/agent) sets aside some tickets and provides them directly to a scalper service (Stubhub, TicketsNow, or other registered ticket agency) in order to recoup some of that “special” money.

Trent is very clear that not all artists, promoters, venues, etc participate in this practice, and it doesn’t necessarily happen for every show.  But there are some that do. How they go about doing it, he says, is a different topic for a different time.

  • How to stop scalping?  It’s easy:  limit the amount of sales per customer, print names on the tickets, and require ID at the venue
  • Ultimately, the only way to tell the promoters and venues that scalping is bad is to never buy a scalped ticket.  Don’t buy from a scalper, and eventually (hopefully) the secondary market will dry up.

And in case you were wondering, Trent goes on to say that when NIN does their own pre-sale, they only get 10% of the available seats.  I would think that the artist pre-sale/fan club purchase should be allowed to get up to as much as 50% of the venue, but there are probably logistical and other reasons why that would be a bad idea.