By Jed Weitzman
The secondary market isn’t going anywhere. I know that’s a difficult sentence to read. I get it – but that’s the reality of where we are at the moment. It’s time for the industry to realize there is a way to utilize and understand the secondary to get tickets into the hands of the fans.
There are a few players in the industry trying to convince everyone that the secondary market is the bad guy. Artists are told repeatedly how bad the secondary market is for their fans. Here’s what they don’t say: actually, the secondary market gives the artist a real-world view into understanding the data, managing the markets, and even, if they choose, control of their own inventory.
The utilization of secondary market data is a game changer. Concerts are about the fan and the artist. That’s the long-term relationship. Artists can use data to make decisions in real-time on how to best get tickets into the hands of their fans. If that becomes an industry-wide practice, everyone would win.
Let’s get something out of the way: artists should have the right to sell tickets wherever their fans want to purchase them.
That’s how you mitigate speculative re-selling and manage your markets. Empowering the artists and not being reactionary when tickets inevitably end up for sale on other platforms – is key.
Growing up around artists and spending most of my career managing and working with them, my job was always about making sure they were able to make the best decisions for their career with the most complete amount of information possible. This is no different. It’s all about the artists – as it should be. When I started in ticketing, I took a deep dive into the world of secondary. By studying the secondary data, I was able to see more clearly what was happening in the marketplace.
I can actually tell what a fan was willing – or in some cases not willing – to pay for a ticket. Average sales and listing prices, minimum and maximum listing and sales prices, all of it is hugely valuable intel which I’ve spent the last seven years helping people understand how to use. Factually, all these secondary listings and sales give a more complete picture of the puzzle.
I speak with folks in our industry every day who have no idea what’s going on with their inventory – promoters, ticketers, agents, managers, and artists – all of whom are genuinely blown away at the reality of the situation.
I sit with artists and show them what happened on their last tour and comps in the marketplace. That data is crucial to making better, informed decisions on pricing, routing and scaling.
When we get asked to help price a tour, we look at the entire life cycle of the ticket market by market – from onsale to show day. Through historical and comparable primary and secondary marketplace data, we can determine what the fan is paying for their ticket and in an ideal world adjust pricing accordingly. We recommend to the agent, manager or promoter the best price possible to get the tickets into the hands of fans. The hope is that we are able to help artists manage their markets so that their inventory is always available to their fans at a fair price.
The chart (below) shows data from an artist’s secondary ticket prices and two comparable artists’ primary ticket prices which inform recommended prices which help artists and their teams better formulate ticket pricing for an upcoming tour. In precisely this way, secondary sales are a guide that should be used as one input when thinking about ticket pricings.
You also need to consider other factors like artist popularity and relevance, the number of tours out in the same genre, and the events taking place in a given market.
Now, let’s back up just a bit … to be clear – this is not an indictment of the primaries. Using this data in conjunction with companies like Ticketmaster and AXS is important and finding ways to work together in order to offer the artists complete control of their destiny is vital.
As I said before – artists should be able to do what they want with their inventory. We’re talking about a fundamental change in the way we look at how artists distribute their inventory and the inevitable melding of the primary and secondary markets. Everyone – including the primaries should participate. I know that’s a big thought, but that’s where it’s going. As you read this – your inventory is out there across multiple platforms and when you read it again tomorrow because it got you thinking – your inventory will still be out there. …
It will most likely take an artist to come out and say that they want change. That they are willing to do something different in order to shake things up. That they are willing to stand up and work to beat the system that keeps beating them and repeating itself – every week. That they want to take a chance because things are going to stay the same if they don’t. Ticketmaster and AXS are not the enemies here. They are the best in class at what they do, but the technology that they are battling every single day – just keeps getting better and better.
It’s time to try something different and acknowledge the reality of what’s happening out there. The secondary market is not going anywhere and it’s on us as an industry to find a way to put money and control back into the hands of the artists – and ultimately tickets in the hands of their fans.
Jed Weitzman is head of music at Logitix, a ticketing platform combining pricing optimization, real-time ticket distribution, insights into marketplace data and buyer behaviors.