Tickets & Touts: CashorTrade Makes The Case For A Face Value Future

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Cashortrade founder Brando Rich | Courtesy CashorTrade

On the last day of its 2024 session, the Maryland General Assembly passed one of the most comprehensive state-level ticketing reform bills in the country. The state House and Senate agreed on SB 539, sponsored by Dawn Gile, an Anne Arundel County Democrat, on April 8 and sent it to Gov. Wes Moore for his signature. The bill bans speculative ticketing and makes resale platforms accountable for any spec tickets sold or listed on their site and levying fines for violations.

It requires all-in pricing throughout the purchasing process and codifies that a ticket is a license and not property and directs the Attorney General’s Office to conduct a review of the event ticket marketplace, which will assess reselling activity, ticket costs in the primary versus reseller markets, and problems consumers encounter on the resale market.
What the final version does not include is a hard 10% cap on resale pricing, which was included in Gile’s original proposal. That provision drew plenty of attention and set tongues wagging across the industry, but was removed in the legislative sausage making, with hopes that the study will demonstrate to hesitant lawmakers that such a cap is needed.

Among those whose attention was grabbed by SB 539: Brando Rich, founder and CEO of, which bills itself as “the world’s only social ticketing platform where fans buy, sell and trade tickets at face value.”
“The Maryland bill was interesting. It was a carbon copy of the CashorTrade model,” he told Pollstar.

And he’s right. CashorTrade is essentially a marketplace where tickets are sold at face value with the platform charging low fees — 3% for insurance and protection for members and 10% for everyone else. Buyers and sellers have profiles, similar to other social media sites, so folks can feel some guarantee that the person on the other side of the screen is also a fan. And if that sounds an awful lot like a digital version of the days of parking lot swaps at jam band shows, that’s because it is.

If CashorTrade has an origin story, it’s of a teenage Rich and his brother (and CashorTrade co-founder) Dusty trucking to Boston to see the Grateful Dead. He explains, “I was 14 and ran away to see The Grateful Dead — like literally ran away from Mom and Dad — and took the truck and headed down to Boston Garden and slept under a bridge in the middle of the city that night and absolutely participated in the wild Grateful Dead scene that happens in the streets of a city. It was unreal, absolutely unlike any other event I’ve ever been to.”
And among the items being sold on the streets of Beantown: tickets. People with signs asking for a miracle — the Rich brothers among them — and those with signs reading (you guessed it) “Cash or Trade?”

Zoom forward a decade or so, the Rich brothers “became massive Phish fans,” started a web design company; did some snowboarding. That sort of thing.
In 2009, Phish reunited for a series of shows, their first in five years, at the Hampton Coliseum in Virginia.

“Tickets sold out right away and they were like $2,000 on the secondary market and Dusty and I looked at each other. ‘What happened here? Why does this feel so different?’” Rich says.

What the brothers came to realize is that it was different. No longer did buying tickets require physical presence at a box office or an in-store outlet. With the early 21st-century internet boom, things changed. And if Web 2.0 was what changed ticketing, then it would take some Web 2.0 to stand athwart the naked greed and say “not so fast.”

“Brokers became sophisticated with software programs. Not just bots that bought up tickets on the primary en masse but price matching software,” he says. “Let’s be real: at that point it was obvious that the fan had very little chance.”

Then there were fees upwards of 35% on tickets that were already being sold well above face. It frustrated the Rich brothers, so CashorTrade was born.
“Airbnb just started and eBay was out and rolling and they had reviews and people had a profile and we thought, this is awesome. Let’s bring the personalized profile to ticketing,” he says.

They went on the road with their favorite bands, pushing both the web version and offering an analog, Post-It note-driven version on site. People got on board. The brothers ran CashorTrade more or less as a passion project. In 2017, Dusty took a gig with Ben & Jerry’s and Brando, looking for a little stability, sold the web design firm and decided to operate CashorTrade full time. He structured it as a C Corp and hired eight people. By then, there were 150,000 registered users. By 2019, artists like Billy Strings and festivals like Summer Camp were partnering directly with the site. The company moved payments in-house.

“We sat down and said CashorTrade has an absolute opportunity to be an alternative,” Rich says.

Then, of course, things changed in the spring of 2020 and CashorTrade got in the refund-processing business. But once things came back from lockdown, they came back big and every month has eclipsed the last. With all the ticketing consternation that came out of the Taylor Swift on-sale, more attention is focused on alternatives like CashorTrade that facilitate face-value, fan-focused reselling. Rich sees it as beneficial not only to fans, but to artists, venues and primary ticketing companies as well.

“It’s hard when you are putting out so much money to vendors to put on an event and then people start wanting their money back for whatever reason. It’s difficult for a primary ticket company to manage that, too. But CashorTrade is a standalone marketplace that they can direct people to when they cannot attend,” he says. “They can sell their ticket for face value, not manipulating the market and that fan can pass their experience on to another fan who in turn fills the seat at the event and helps (the event) bolster their experience and make more money. It’s increased revenue and fan experience so it’s a win-win-win.”

Primary sellers, artists and venues are starting to recognize that benefit. CashorTrade is rolling out an API integration that will provide a seamless connection between the primary seller and CashorTrade.

“We’ll get the data for the event and the order price so we’re able to create the post for the user and list it at face value … and then transfer it in-app,” he says. “A bunch of artists are asking their primaries what they can do to keep their tickets at face value and we’re saying we’re here for you.”

If a face-value mandate becomes the legislative standard and the industry is looking for a miracle, CashorTrade’s ready.