Policing The Fan Club

Ticket scalpers who stalk fan club presales might want to think twice before doing so, according to Musictoday Chief of Staff Nathan Hubbard, who says his company has been fighting this breed of scalper for several years.

“Artist ticketing … is a way to give the core group of fans access to tickets before anybody else,” Hubbard told Pollstar. “In some cases, brokers have capitalized on that just as they have on Ticketmaster onsales. The question is: What can be done to try and protect the real fan?”

Charlottesville, Va.-based Musictoday, described by Hubbard as “a company that strengthens the connection between artists and their fans,” has a full-time in-house staff dedicated to making sure exclusive fan club tickets get into the hands of real fans and not scalpers looking to sell the ducats on the secondary market.

“We go out after the onsale and go hunting for those sites and places where tickets are being scalped,” he said. “This year, we expect to cancel tens of thousands of brokered tickets.”

The company – which powers artist fan clubs and online stores, along with providing direct-to-fan ticketing – has developed programs and built anti-scalping databases of known broker names, credit cards, addresses and e-mails.

“We have built-in algorithms that will cross-reference the purchaser data we get against data from known scalpers,” Hubbard explained. “We’re able to prevent a lot of that activity from taking place by canceling orders on the spot.”

Another scalper combatant method is printing the name of the fan club member on the ticket – an idea conjured by Nine Inch Nails, Hubbard said. Musictoday, which powers NIN’s online fan club, has partnered with the band to implement this process on the road.

“It’s a custom stock ticket,” he said. “And they have to go through a special entrance and show photo ID. … [NIN] staffed somebody on the road that deals with those fan club members.”

Hubbard says that overall, fighting brokers strengthens the fan/artist relationship.

“When we go out and take 400 Kenny Chesney tickets out of the hands of brokers and put them back into the hands of the fans … the message boards light up in a positive way,” he said. “It’s a way to show the fan that you really care about them. It’s an ongoing part of our service and it always has been.”

– Mitchell Peters