CNBC Contribution On Secondary Ticket Marketing Following Taylor Swift On Sale Cancellation
This year’s average ticket was $108 - ALMOST 18% higher than 2019's average price of $92 - Tim Gray
Taylor Swift fans are not having a “Love Story” with Ticketmaster — and may fall victim to scams if they’re not careful when looking for affordable concert tickets.
Ticketmaster announced Thursday afternoon that it has canceled public ticket sale plans for the pop star’s upcoming “The Eras Tour,” her first since 2018. “Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand, tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been canceled,” the site said in a tweet.
Tickets had been scheduled to go on sale to the general public Friday, Nov. 18, at 10:00 a.m. ET.
Fans accessed Taylor Swift tickets this week via a presale offer for Capital One cardholders; those tickets are no longer available.
Absent more tickets becoming available to the general public later, fans may think it’s necessary to turn to the “secondary” market to score a seat — meaning, from sellers other than Ticketmaster. But that market may be full of landmines for unwary buyers, experts said.
“If you’re in a hurry trying to get your tickets — which of course you’re going to be because of the demand — it’s really easy to make a quick mistake,” said Chris Cobb, owner of historic rock club Exit/In in Nashville, Tennessee.
Swifties, as the artist’s diehard fans are known, flooded the internet this week to buy pre-sale tickets for “Eras.”
The deluge temporarily crashed Ticketmaster’s site Tuesday and fueled hours-long wait times to buy tickets. The chaos led to calls from U.S. senators and the Tennessee attorney general for probes into the ticket seller’s market power and sales practices.
Ticketmaster on Tuesday called the demand “historically unprecedented.” The 2023 tour, which has 52 dates so far, sold more than 2 million tickets that day — a single-day record.
What we’re seeing NOW, we’ll see in 2023, and probably beyond. - Tim Gray
"What we have seen is that Ticket sales for some of the medium-size touring acts, which makes up the majority, have slumped between 20% to 30% compared with prepandemic. That lower turnout, in turn, hurts food & beverage sales of the venues.
Those losses, in a lot of cases, must be made up somewhere.
Competition isn’t the only challenge. Touring acts and venues are experiencing personnel, truck and equipment shortages, hikes in labor and gasoline costs. This list goes on. The fan is dealing with the same issues in addition to high inflation.
When you combine lower sales and higher costs, operationally, it’s harder to make a profit…which in turn may be passed onto the fan.
What we’re seeing NOW, we’ll see in 2023, and probably beyond."
Meanwhile, the tickets soared on the resale market — topping $10,000 in some cases — via ticket sites like StubHub. These are asking prices, not necessarily what fans are paying to score a seat.
Amid all the hubbub — and craze for tickets — desperate fans may be excited to come across what seems like a good deal. However, it might actually be a fraud.
“Deals for hot tickets, you’re virtually not going to find one,” said Andrew Farwell, vice president of Outback Presents, an independent concert promoter based in Nashville. “It’s capitalism at its finest, supply and demand.
“This is the ultimate dream and nightmare at the same time,” Farwell added, referring to the strong demand for live events after the pandemic-era lull.
Why concert tickets are a ‘buyer beware’ market
Some Taylor Swift fans who bought seemingly legitimate tickets have already discovered they were duped.
Buying tickets on the “secondary market” poses an elevated risk of fraud and/or exorbitant prices for consumers, entertainment-industry experts warned.
Ticketmaster is the “primary” seller of the Taylor Swift tour, for example. Event tickets that appear on a primary seller’s site are ones being sold for the first time and at face value (i.e., the price printed on the ticket).
Secondary sellers often buy up tickets from primary sellers in bulk with the help of “bots,” and then resell them at a higher price, a practice known as ticket “touting.”
“There are almost so many [secondary sellers] that you just can’t keep up,” Cobb said.
A big concern for consumers: The secondary market has seen a “rise in fraudulent, unethical and illegal activities” like ticketing scalping and ticket touting, according to Technavio, a market researcher. The firm estimates the global secondary market share will rise to $2.2 billion by 2026, representing a growth rate of about 8% a year; 44% of the revenue growth is expected to come from North America.
Of course, this isn’t to say secondary sellers are grifters in all circumstances. But it becomes a “buyer beware” type market, experts said.
Exit/In had a string of sold-out shows recently — and had to turn away groups each night, Cobb said. They’d inadvertently bought fake tickets.
Sometimes, that might happen if a reseller sells multiples of the same ticket; only the initially scanned ticket will work at the door. In other cases, a reseller may be selling you tickets they haven’t even secured yet.
It’s easy to see why consumers get confused: Google results for “Taylor Swift concert tickets” on Thursday afternoon brought up ads for StubHub and Vivid Seats — both secondary sellers — before those of Ticketmaster and Taylor Swift’s own website. And it may not be clear how to differentiate the two groups.
Having to make that choice hurts the profits of smaller artists, festivals and venues - Tim Gray
Tim Gray added "Pre-pandemic the industry had touring rhythm. Roughly half of the touring artists would go on the road and the other half would take their turn the following year. The pandemic brought the concert industry to a halt. Now, it’s the opposite: Most of the bands & artists are hitting the road at the same time, hoping to make up for lost revenue. It’s unprecedented. That jammed up calendar does risk frustrating the fans and many will have to skip some of their favorite shows. BUT ALSO by having to make that choice it hurts the profits of smaller artists, festivals and venues."
How to buy legitimate concert tickets
The question for consumers becomes how to know whether they’re making an error before buying.
There’s a surefire way when buying online, experts said: First, navigate to an artist’s or event venue’s website and click through from there for tickets. Doing so will bring you to the primary seller’s page.
Before buying, do one last check of the website’s URL domain name — to ensure you’re buying from “ticketmaster.com” and not “ticketfaster.com,” for example, Cobb said.
Of course, there’s a chance a given show may be sold out or that face-value ticket prices may be higher than hoped via Ticketmaster when fans go to buy.
“When there are simply no tickets available, I understand fans want to see a show, but they run risk of overpaying or running into fake tickets, scammers,” said Tim Gray, CEO of Grayscale Marketing and vice president of marketing for Romeo Entertainment Group, a talent buyer and concert promoter.
Social media is another potential landmine for fans, Gray said. Since the pandemic, he’s seen a “gargantuan amount, an absurd, crazy amount” of fraud through Facebook and other platforms.
In these cases, a bot (which may even pose as someone you know) might entice you to click on a fake link for a livestream to a sold-out concert, or tell you they can no longer use event tickets they’d purchased. These are often attempts to steal your personal information or credit card number, Gray said.
He encourages fans who buy tickets this way to click on the social-media profile in question and look for potential red flags, such as very few prior posts, which signals the account was likely just created. Fans can also do a Google search for consumer reviews of the seller in question, which may give an indication as to whether others have suffered a scam.
It’s likely that even legitimate Taylor Swift tickets bought on the secondary market will see prices fall dramatically from the current levels after the initial rush of demand filters out, experts said.
“A broker is fishing to see what they can get,” Cobb said. “Those numbers will continue to go down once all of this false demand is gone and there’s a correction.”
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