Sold Out: The Story of “Legal Scalpers” 🎶

SOLD OUT: Scalpers linger outside the sold out Loyle Carner show at Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney (May 2017).

‘Legal scalpers’ are killing the music ticketing industry, and we’re just letting it happen.

We’ve all been there… You set an alarm 8.30am, to remind yourself that those once-in-a-lifetime tickets go on sale at 9.00am. Just in case they get released a little early this time, you start hitting the “Buy Tickets” button at 8.45am.

You discuss tactics with friends, everyone has their own method:

  • +R
  • Multiple incognito windows
  • VPN
  • The office wifi (because it’s a little faster, and that’s bound to matter)
  • Or a combination of all the above,


But over the past 12-months, we’ve seen huge rise in secondary ticket companies engaging in fraudulent activity to take tickets away from the real fans, sometimes before the event goes on sale, in order to profit from our love for the arts.

This is causing widespread dissatisfaction amongst music fans, as we are now faced with a lack of availability, affordability and flexibility when purchasing music tickets.

Yet, despite this dissatisfaction, we (myself included) are forced to purchase more tickets through secondary ticket resellers such as Viagogo, StubHub!, and Ticketmaster, than ever before.

These companies have manipulated their way through complex legislation, bargaining deals, and have used their financial foothold to further direct partnerships with major organisations. They claim that they’re operating within the spirit of the free market.

So why are we, the fans, just letting this happen?

There are 4 core problems with today’s ticketing ecosystem, and why we don’t feel empowered as consumers to do much about it:

#1. Tickets are not purchased by real fans

They’re purchased by bots, scalpers, or amateur scalpers [people who want to make a quick $], meaning that events sell out in record time.

Source: Google Trends (2017) — The rising trend of people searching for “scalpers”

#2. After an event sells out, we have no choice but to “Search Google” for tickets.

Google prioritises the “legal scalpers”in its search results, which means that you inevitably end up on Viagogo, StubHub!, or Ticketmaster to purchase an overpriced ticket.

#3. I have a spare ticket, who wants it?

If you legitimately can’t make a show, tickets are still incredibly hard to get rid of, especially at the last minute. This is because a lot of the “demand” still lies on the “legal scalpers” sites (as mentioned in #2), making it hard for you to connect to real fans.

#4 Security

Even if you do find a fan willing to buy your ticket (often via the event page on Facebook), there is still no secure (and simple) way to share tickets without risk being involved.

If you don’t think this impact you, then just type into Google: [name of your favourite band] + scalpers and you’ll see a plethora of articles about scalpers (and “legal scalpers”) impacting bands that you listen to every day.

We must act now

Whether you’re a promoter, a musician, a fan, or venue, over the next few articles, I’ll be telling the story of how we got to where we are, who the key players are in this complex equation, who the good guys are, and what we need to do in order to take back control of our spare tickets in order to keep our live music industry alive.

1st edition will be released: w/c 22nd May 2017