How To Stop Event-Ticket Rip Offs

Sep 22, 2016 · 5 min read

More Money For Artists, Free Tickets For Fans, Nothing For Scammers

Copyright Kostyantin Pankin |

What I Mean By “Event-Ticket Ripoffs”

Event-ticket manipulation schemes are in the news again. That’s where people use various tactics to quickly buy up all of the tickets for a popular event and then resell them at very high prices.

The Best Answer Is Not More Laws

There are all kinds of ways to fight this problem and I’m sure that someone will propose enacting laws to make it illegal. I’m not against the idea of legislation and regulations, but for me they’re the solution of last resort, not the first.

I always want to ask if there’s a simpler, cheaper, more effective way to end an abusive practice before resorting to the cumbersome and expensive option of fixing it with new government regulations. In this case there is.

Let The Market Fix The Problem

So, here’s my idea for eliminating the ticket scammers.

Today, the promoter picks a ticket price that is way under the ticket’s market value. That’s like offering to sell a coin that contain $1,000 worth of gold for $100. It inevitable that lots of people are going to want to get that coin so that they can resell it at a profit. That’s how the market works. Buy low, sell high.

By pricing the tickets at $100 when people will gladly pay $1,000 you’ve arranged things so that the market is working against you.

That’s a really dumb plan.

What you want to do is make the market work for you.

Step One: Decide How Much Money You Expect To Receive From That Performance

The scammers are paying maybe $100 for a ticket and reselling it for $1,000. Most of the money is going to the scammers. The artists are getting screwed!

Here’s the fix: The artists decide in advance how much money they expect a performance to generate.

Purely as an example, let’s say that the venue has 10,000 seats and the artist would normally price the tickets at an average of $100 each for an expected gross revenue of $1,000,000. OK, let’s say that the artist would be good with getting $1,000,000 for that performance.

If the artist could sell the tickets for an average of $200 each instead of $100 then he/she could get his/her million dollars after selling only 5,000 seats and he would then, if he wanted to, be able to give away the other 5,000 tickets for free.

You see, if the artists got all the money that the scammers are now getting the artists could afford to give away lots of seats for free and still make a lot of money and the scammers would get squat. That’s a good idea, isn’t it?

Start High, End Low

The way to make this work is to initially set the ticket price very high and then incrementally lower it over time until the artist has reached his/her predetermined gross sales point. After that he/she could afford to give the remaining tickets away for free.

A Reverse Auction

Set the initial ticket price at, for example, $10,000 and leave it there for three days. No one is going to buy out the venue at $10,000 per seat.

For the next three days after that set the price at $9,000. Three days later the price goes down to $8,000.

You post the rules you’re following on your website so that everyone knows in advance exactly when the price will decrease and what the new price will be. You post the schedule of prices in advance so that people can plan when they want to buy a ticket, all the time knowing that if they wait too long, all the tickets will be gone.

Keep reducing the price by $1,000 every three days until the price is down to $1,000. If there are still some unsold seats then reduce the price by $100 every three days. Keep going until you’ve received your million dollars or two-million dollars or whatever dollar goal you’ve set for the performance.

As an alternative the artist could decide to reserve a set percentage of seats, 10%, 20%, to give away free.

Suppose you meet your goal after selling tickets for 7,000 of the available 10,000 seats. That leaves you with 3,000 tickets that you can afford to give away free to your fans.

How The Free Ticket Lottery Would Work

Everyone who wants a free ticket for this performance would register their name, street and email address, Facebook link, and phone number on your website. This information would automatically go into a spreadsheet, making sure to weed out any duplicate entries.

A simple random number generator would pick, in this example, 3,000 names from the database and each of them would get an email asking them to confirm that they will personally attend, stressing that the tickets are NON-TRANSFERABLE and that the winner must appear in person with a photo ID.

If someone can’t attend their name gets stricken and a new name is randomly picked.

Non-Transferable Free Tickets

This is key. The winners of the free-ticket lottery cannot transfer the free tickets. They will have to show up in person and present a photo ID at the gate. They will not be given a physical ticket but rather upon showing the proper photo ID they will be directly admitted to the venue.

We don’t want people winning the lottery and then selling the free tickets.

What about kids who don’t have a photo ID?

If the winner doesn’t have a photo ID the artist can copy the winner’s photo from his/her Facebook page and use that photo to confirm the identity of the winner when he/she shows up at the event.

Advantages Of This System

  • The artists can double or triple (or more) the amount of money they make.
  • All the value of the sold tickets will go to the artist. The scammers will be totally cut out of the process.
  • The artists can guarantee that thousands of their dedicated fans will not only be able to attend their performances but also that they will be able to attend for free.
  • All of the madness of trying to get tickets to what’s going to be a sold-out event will disappear.
  • Rich customers will be able to pick their own price point. If Bill Gates really, really wants to see Adele his assistant will have three days to plunk down $20,000 for a couple of tickets. There won’t be any problem. There will be lots of tickets available at that price.
  • It won’t matter where the sell-out point is. Maybe Adele will get her million dollars in ticket revenue by the time the price has only declined to $2,000 but who cares?
  • The buyers will have paid what they were willing to pay. They’re happy.
  • Adele got her $1,000,000 so she’s happy.
  • There are maybe 8,000 tickets left over which will go to fans for free so they’re happy.

Why wouldn’t you do it this way?

I’m just saying. . . .

–David Grace (

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Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 17 novels and over 200 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.

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