Update: Ticketmaster Calls Resale Accusations ‘Categorically Untrue’

Bruno Mars
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
– Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars performs at 102.7 KIIS FM

UPDATE: Ticketmaster has responded to accusations of feeding tickets to brokers, with a statement provided to Pollstar in full below.
“It is categorically untrue that Ticketmaster has any program in place to enable resellers to acquire large volumes of tickets at the expense of consumers. Ticketmaster’s Seller Code of Conduct specifically prohibits resellers from purchasing tickets that exceed the posted ticket limit for an event.  In addition, our policy also prohibits the creation of fictitious user accounts for the purpose of circumventing ticket limit detection in order to amass tickets intended for resale.
“A recent CBC story found that an employee of Ticketmaster’s resale division acknowledged being aware of some resellers having as many as 200 TradeDesk accounts for this purpose (TradeDesk is Ticketmaster’s professional reseller product that allows resellers to validate and distribute tickets to multiple marketplaces).  We do not condone the statements made by the employee as the conduct described clearly violates our terms of service.
“The company had already begun an internal review of our professional reseller accounts and employee practices to ensure that our policies are being upheld by all stakeholders. Moving forward we will be putting additional measures in place to proactively monitor for this type of inappropriate activity.”
A series of investigative reports from the CBC and Toronto Star dug deeply into Ticketmaster’s relationship with professional ticket re-sellers, including the existence of a site purportedly for broker use, and questionable comments at Ticket Summit 2018 in Las Vegas, as well as ticket pricing of a recent Bruno Mars show at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
The articles were published Sept. 18-19 and question the legitimacy of Ticketmaster’s efforts to keep tickets out of the hands of scalpers. 
The articles said Ticketmaster was pushing a new TradeDesk platform (located at tradedesk.ticketmaster.com) for professional ticket resellers, which requires approval and registration for use. Pollstar reached out to Ticketmaster for comment on the TradeDesk platform, but hadn’t received a response at press time. 
Some brokers had “a couple of hundred Ticketmaster accounts,” and “I think our biggest broker right now has probably grabbed around five million [tickets],” TM reps stated to reporters posing as ticketers, seemingly contradicting Ticketmaster’s policy of setting purchasing limits to keep tickets in the hands of fans. 
The analysis of Mars’ pricing by the CBC essentially focuses on the fact that not all tickets are released for the initial onsale; ticket prices change, for tickets released months after the initial onsale and for dynamically priced seats which shift according to market value; and that Ticketmaster is incentivized to encourage reselling because it collects fees from secondary transactions. 
The CBC estimates that Ticketmaster collected $350,000 from fees for the initial onsale, and $308,000 in fees on resold tickets. 
Ticketmaster wrote in a statement to the CBC and Toronto Star that pricing and allotment decisions lie with the promoter and the venue.
“Ticketmaster is a technology platform that helps artists and teams connect with their fans. We do not own the tickets sold on our platform nor do we have any control over ticket pricing – either in the initial sale or the resale. In both cases, prices are set by the seller. We also do not determine when tickets are available for purchase or how they are allocated – those decisions are communicated to us by our client, the venue, after consultation with the event presenter. 
“As long as there is an imbalance between supply and demand in live event tickets, there will inevitably be a secondary market. As the world’s leading ticketing platform, representing thousands of teams, artists and venues, we believe it is our job to offer a marketplace that provides a safe and fair place for fans to shop, buy and sell tickets in both the primary and secondary markets. That is why we operate our marketplace more transparently and securely than any other. We clearly delineate between standard tickets sold by the venue and tickets sold by third parties, with clear disclosure that resale prices may exceed (or be lower than) face value. In addition to our work fighting the use of automated bots, we have also taken the most restrictive stance on speculative ticketing, not allowing any seller, professional or otherwise, to post tickets we have not validated to our TM+ pages.”