2018 Ticketing In Review: Big Numbers, Big Prices, Big Changes

Taylor Swift
– Taylor Swift
Look what You Made her Do: This year major tours, like Taylor Swift’s Reputation stadium tour, played multiple nights at the largest venues, such as MetLife Stadium, drastically lowering scalpers’ chances of cashing in on the hottest tickets.

As part of Pollstar’s 2018 Year-End Special Issue, we broke down the year into industry buckets which we are rolling out online over the 2018 Holidays.  To read this special issue in its entirety now click HERE; subscribe to Pollstar HERE.

The biggest ticketing story in 2018 hasn’t been a single event, but rather the decline of the traditional broker model as Taylor Swift and other major artists continue to price aggressively and offer tons of inventory, effectively cutting out scalpers by letting supply more closely meet demand.
 Longtime Rolling Stones promoter John Meglen of Concerts West / AEG Presents has told Pollstar multiple times the easiest way to cut out scalpers is to increase inventory. The band has apparently put their money where their mouths are, with the just-announced North American Stones dates leaving plenty of space between cities and an additional show already announced for Soldier Field in Chicago. Garth Brooks also famously refused to increase his ticket prices in the face of enormous demand, instead choosing to simply add more shows until they stopped selling out.
Increased inventory has, unsurprisingly, led to goliath ticket sales numbers for many of these stadium acts. Pricing closer to what the ticket its worth on the secondary market has also increased major artists’ grosses.
 AEG took the plunge into the secondary market with its ticketing company AXS, ending a partnership with StubHub, first at The O2 and SSE Arena, Wembley in the U.K., and later for all its sports franchises and AEG-owned or- operated venues. AXS was already in the secondary marketplace with Flashseats, but the introduction of the in-house AXS Marketplace signals a new focus on resale akin to rival behemoth Ticketmaster’s own recent efforts. 
 Eventbrite suffered a major, public hack of ticketing subsidiary Ticketfly, keeping its website offline for almost a week starting May 31. Affected were dozens of venues and events like Chicago’s Riot Fest, which had to be moved to temporary new webpages while cybersecurity experts assessed the situation and Tickefly scrambled to get its platform securely back online.
Later on in the year Eventbrite launched its Eventbrite Music platform in Australia and North America, and confirmed that the Ticketfly name and platform would soon sunset.
 Ticketmaster continued its suit against Prestige Entertainment, which for a long time was known to be a large source of inventory for StubHub, and Renaissance Ventures LLC. Prestige fired back with claims that Ticketmaster does not make bona fide efforts to keep tickets off the secondary market or set up effective security practices and, in some cases, provides resellers with bots to automate their purchase and resale activities.
 Ticketmaster vehemently denied Prestige’s claims but the ticketing giant caught more bad press when a series of investigative reports from the CBC and the Toronto Star dug deeply into the company’s relationship with professional resellers, prompting U.S. Senators Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal to write a letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino.
 Ticketmaster President Jared Smith responded on behalf of Rapino, answering the senators’ questions and stating, “Ticketmaster does not have, and has never had, any product or program that allows ticket scalpers, or anyone else, to buy tickets ahead of fans and circumvent the policies we have on our site regarding on-line ticket purchasing limits.” 
The year’s ticketing business moves, partnerships and mergers included TEG acquiring TicketWorld Down Under, Songkick partnering with FNAC, Vivendi buying Dutch ticketer Paylogic, Eventbrite acquiring Spanish ticketer Ticketea, DEAG increasing its stake in MyTicket in Germany, CTS Eventim acquiring Venuepoint in Scandinavia, and Ticketmaster acquiring blockchain company Upgraded.
Several companies launched blockchain solutions, all of which promise the elimination of ticketing fraud, with safe, secure and anonymous transactions and unprecedented insights into fan behavior. One new entrant into blockchain ticketing is Ticketfly co-founder and former TicketWeb president Dan Teree with his new company Big Neon.
The biggest ticketing news from Europe was Ticketmaster’s shutdown of its secondary marketplaces Seatwave and Get Me In, accompanied by the launch of an in-house, fan-to-fan and face-value resale platform in the U.K., to be rolled out in the rest of Europe next year. 
“Closing down our secondary sites and creating a ticket exchange on Ticketmaster has always been our long-term plan,” said Ticketmaster UK MD Andrew Parsons.