Music Today refuses scalped tickets

A Daily Progress article describes how Music Today is monitoring eBay and other avenues for after-market sales of tickets. This is in accordance with their terms of service, which states:

Tickets purchased through this site are intended for personal use by the buyer. We strictly prohibit the resale of any tickets obtained through this site for more than the purchase price. If you are found to be or we in good faith believe you are reselling, trading or brokering tickets for profit that you purchased through this site, we may at our sole discretion cancel all or part of your ticket order and all or part of other pending orders in your name and/or put all or part of your orders and all or part of your other pending orders in your name at will-call for pick-up only by you.

This peculiar restriction naturally will upset people who discover the policy when they are turned away at the door. One viewpoint holds that scalpers fulfill a market need for people who don’t, for a variety of reasons, purchase tickets through the official venue. The other viewpoint maintains that Music Today is welcome to set its own policies and the purchaser agreed to them when the ticket was sold.

What do you think?

31 thoughts on “Music Today refuses scalped tickets”

  1. I’m a HUGE Auburn football fan as a result of being an Auburn graduate. Unless I want to pay huge amounts of money or find some convoluted way to be available at the exact time tickets go on sale for the annual Auburn v. Alabama football game, there’s no way I’m getting a ticket. It’s just not going to happen.

    However, if I REALLY want to go to that game, I can certainly find tickets online at eBay (eBay search for “Auburn Alabama Football Tickets). There’s no way I’m finding those tickets anywhere else, except through a reseller.

    Obviously, I see nothing wrong with reselling tickets. My one caveat is that I think all resellers at the actual event should have to resell from a single location. The nice thing about eBay and StubHub and the like is that resellers and buyers are on an even playing field. I can go from one site to the next and have a good idea of what the current market value is for the seats I want. The reseller still makes a profit and the I presumably get to see the event at a price I’m comfortable with, since I know I paid much closer to market value.

    However, at the actual event, if resellers are spread out, determining market value is a MUCH more involved process and the resellers have a clear advantage. I may be wrong about the location, but I believe Arizona put a policy in place years ago that made it legal to resell tickets as long as you were located within a designated area. They found that resold ticket prices plummeted and aligned more with what the market value was. The resellers and buyers had a more level playing field because buyers could shop within the confined space that was legal for resellers.

    In the end, I just don’t see how reselling tickets to an event is all that different from reselling something like Beanie Babies (back in the frenzy days). Both represent a product that has a much smaller supply than demand. I’ve never heard of Ty, or any other product manufacturer like that, stating you can’t resell something when you buy it, so why do it with event tickets? Just doesn’t make sense to me.

  2. If you sell tickets on eBay, do not list the row and seat number – just list the section. They cannot invalidate the tickets without the seat number.

    Not everyone has the time, resources, and patience to sit down at 10am on a Saturday morning, and hope to get tickets online before the Music Today server crashes or starts denying connections. I think the ticket sellers on ebay provide a service that Music Today does not, and I certainly do not mind paying a premium for convenience. In fact Music Today ought to sell tickets on eBay for whatever price the market will bear.

  3. So, let me see if I understand. Say someone posts some specific seats on craigslist. Then Music Today decides to invalidate them. Just one problem, how does Music Today authenticate the poster? Imagine I’m eating lunch and I hear you bragging about your front row center seats. Seems like all I have to do is go online and post your seats for sale. Sorry, your tickets are no longer valid.

    Not too long ago, someone erroneously sent a 15 page fax to my free eFax number. A fax that large was in violation of their terms for a free account so they immediately cancelled my account with no regard to my protestations. Seems like a similar situation. you can claim you didn’t post the tickets for sale, but once cancelled, I doubt the ticket taker is going to inspect your drivers license and query the database to determine that in fact your tickets were not re-sold.

  4. funny. i read an article recently about how some bands/venues are going to start scalping their own tickets on ebay. oh, sorry, “putting higher-demand tickets up on ebay for auction.” i think it’s total b.s. yeah, scalpers usually gouge their customers, but why doubly screw people by telling them at the door, “sorry, your $300 ticket is no good anymore.” yet another example of an arm of the music industry trying to f’ the fans.

  5. I understand the problem of scalped tickets and this will only hurt the fans not the sellers of tickets. So people will fiqure a way around all this. Perhaps it will nip scalping in the bud. I can understand MusicToday point but I wouldn’t want to be a ticket taker tonight.

    They should have someone from MusicToday at JPJ to help with any problems that might arise tonight.

  6. It is completely within their rights to do that, absolutely. If you want to not accept a ticket, that’s fine. But it’s also completely stupid, mostly for the reasons listed above. All it would take is a concentrated misinformation effort to invalidate many people’s tickets for several events, or obscuring information on the tickets that want to be sold.

    If their business model can’t handle aftermarket sales, it would be a better idea to adapt their model, rather than to try to prevent the aftermarket sales. “Scalping” your own tickets is fine, unless you strong-arm the other scalpers. But having a set of tickets that are up for auction, or saving some tickets for sale later in the cycle than others so that late purchasers have a chance to buy, or giving away 10 tickets at the door, or a number of other strategies are, in my opinion, better than preventing other markets from opening around the shortcomings of your business model.

  7. Why exactly is it that scalping is supposed to be somehow wrong? Why should tickets to an event be unlike any other asset? People should be able to sell their own property for whatever price they want.

    It’s not as if we’re talking about selling bottles of water for $20 each after a hurricane. Nobody ‘needs’ to go to any of these events. Tickets to any concert or sporting event are a luxury commodity. If you want to buy a ticket for $20 and put it up for sake for $1 million then that is your business.

    How is it ethical for Music Today to buy and sell tickets for a profit but not for an individual to do the same? This is totally inconsistent and indefensible.

    The common attack against scalpers usually goes ‘but the concert is really important to me, man, and I don’t have $500 to pay for it.’ Well, a brand new BMW 7 series with a V-10 is very important to me, but I’m not demanding that the dealer be forced to sell the car to me for the price of the factory invoice. If 100,000 people are ready to buy a new BMW 7 series but they only made 30,000 of them this year then the dealer is naturally going to mark up the price until he finds the maximum point at which he can sell all of the BMWs that he has to sell.

    Kinda sucks, but I don’t ‘need’ a new BMW any more than you ‘need’ to go to that football game. This is the difference between capitalism and communism.

  8. People should be able to sell their own property for whatever price they want.

    And they can. But the “property” of a ticket is useless. A ticket is just a token. What you’re really doing is renting a single seat for the duration of a few hours. And that’s not property.

  9. It seems pretty fair to me. If you are trying to sell tickets for higher value then you are ‘rolling the dice’. It’s been this way for as long as they have issued barcodes on tickets directly (TM and Musictoday.)

    The idea is to punish the end-user of the tickets to take the bottom-end out of the market for scalpers, how can that be a bad thing? I’ve paid way too much for tickets in the past and will definitely rejoice when scalpers are done with!

    It’s a shame that people don’t read first, but as always ‘buyer beware’.

  10. I’ve seen news article after news article about how “Real Fans” of whatever events get locked out of an event or screwed over when they can’t get tickets after after an event goes on sale and they were waiting in line or online the minute the tickets went on sale. Afterward they find that huge blocks of tickets for the event they’ve wanted to see available at a “Ticket Broker” for 100’s over the original price. Ticket prices to a lot of events have are generally already too high, add on the mark-up of the “Ticket Broker” and it gets ridiculous.

    I think this policy, if Music Today can make it stick, will be a refreshing change from the current practices.

  11. My first reaction was, “what crap! That seems totally unfair.” About two seconds later, I thought about the times when I’d tried to get tickets to an event, only to have them “sell out” within 10 minutes or whatever, and then see blocks of seats available through brokers the next day.

    It’s a sticky issue. Luckily, it’s not, as Jack said, water in a post-hurricane area. I still think my first reaction was the right one (for many of the reasons already pointed out)…but since I can’t see what financial advantage MusicToday gains by invalidating tickets in their current business practices (though it’s not hard to see this as one step as they revise their current methods), I will optimistically believe they are trying to allow fans to buy tickets at face value, no matter when or where they purchase them. But I’d be glad to hear if there’s already a financial advantage I’m missing.

  12. Say someone posts some specific seats on craigslist. Then Music Today decides to invalidate them.

    I think they’re going after people who sell for profit, so those DMB tickets being sold for face value are fine, but the people trying to get $300 for tickets to the same show should be nervous.

    There’s probably not an immediate advantage for MusicToday in this, but it might instill more confidence in them from those who’ve seen those broker sites full of the tickets we couldn’t get.

  13. For the record, I used to be a full-time ticket broker until I grew up a bit and had a change of heart on how I was spending my creative energy.

    Anyway, I don’t think Music Today prevents anything. I was very connected to other ticket sellers and we all successfully sold Music Today’s tickets for a lot of money on a regular basis.

    We would actually rejoice everytime Music Today or other fan clubs added new web site features or made up new policies designed to stop brokers. Why? Because we were professionals and knew how to get around it whereas the average fan didn’t. Just like I could not walk into your office and do your job as well as you, no fan who didn’t spend all of their time on ticketmaster and fan club sites could even come close to the tickets we got.

    Take Bruce Springsteen for example…works very hard to stop scalpers even to the point of forcing ticket holders for the best seats to show ID then be walked directly into the venue from the will call window. Good idea, but we all made a lot of money off those tickets because we knew to look for the special will call drop down on Ticketmaster and had ways of getting our clients into the seats.

    My point here is not to rub it in or brag – I don’t sell tickets anymore because I decided I don’t believe in it. But I do think these people who try to stop the resale of event tickets should reconsider what they are doing. They can’t stop it and by making tickets “harder” to access only shut fans out.

    Rather than trying to stop it, we need to just let it happen and try to provide safe ways for people to buy and sell. (Yes, legitimate brokers are actually more often the VICTIMS of fraud.) StubHub, RazorGator, TicketsNow all do a good job of this. eBay and Craigslist do not.

    But letting it happen actually brings prices down A LOT. Teams are starting to allow ticket brokers to be official partners. State legislatures are rolling back laws against ticket brokering across the country. Sites like are letting people compare prices from all of the major sellers to get good deals. Day trader brokers are getting in over their head then dumping tickets. All of this means more cheap supply and a lot of fans are getting in to events very cheap – often below face.

    Compared to about 8 years ago when on-line sales of tickets were new and only a few vendors dominated the landscape, this is a huge victory.

    It will continue as long as you just let it be a free market. I just hope Music Today doesn’t start controlling airline ticket sales, which are also sold on a demand-based pricing model.

  14. I witnessed this policy being put into place from the perspective of running Speaking only for hard-core Dave Matthews Band fans, this policy is very, very much favored. Scalpers often gobble up vast quantities of tickets and resell them at shockingly high prices, which frustrates ticketless fans to no end. and Warehouse members alike called for this change in the ticket policy for years before it finally happened. The idea is to discourage scalpers from buying DMB tickets at all, knowing that many people will be wise to the fact that they’re worthless once resold.

    Whether or not the policy works, I can’t say. I can only say that it’s clear to me that putting it into place was at least partially a result of fan demand, and that those same fans now seem broadly pleased with the results.

  15. But there are better ways of keeping scalpers from buying tickets. Mr. Marty above says that policies like this are useless against many brokers. And as several posters have said, you just don’t list the seat number when you sell the ticket and MT has no recourse.

    As I said in my post, will call only will take a huge chunk out of the reseller market without inconveniencing innocent buyers.

    I really like the idea of authorized brokers. It would definitely do a lot to stabilize aftermarket ticket prices.

  16. Would like to point out that who is being penalized is the BUYER, not the seller. They have their money, and the fan may be in for an unpleasant surprise when he or she gets to the venue and finds the ticket is invalid.
    Counterfeit tickets are one thing. But how does it benefit anyone to turn away someone presenting a valid ticket and leaving that seat empty?
    If they are worried about large blocks of tickets being purchased for resale maybe they could put a limit on the number sold at one time to a customer.
    Can you imagine someone driving here from out of town to attend the concert, renting a hotel room, and then getting turned away because their ticket had ben invalidated? They might decide to never support that group again.
    They need to rethink this policy.

  17. Mr. Marty makes the strongest point IN FAVOR of this policy, and in favor of more like it and aggressive laws against re-selling tickets at higher than face value. The ticket-buying environment is heavily slanted toward the ticket brokers. If I want tickets to a show, I have just myself in line or online. Ticket scalpers (please, let’s not make them seem pure and “inthe public interest” by referring to them as brokers) can have as many people as they want hitting the sites and phone lines to scoop up tickets for resale. This shifts the odds HEAVILY in their favor and makes it very dificult if not impossible for the concert-goer to obtain good seats at face value (i.e. the price the band agreed to charge their fans).

    There is nothing fair and just about ticket scalping. In Charlottesville, it’s just getting started (and it IS getting started – Stub Hub had specific seat locations for sale for the Eric Clapton show two days before the public on-sale date, a fact which makes a pretty strong case supporting corruption somewhere along the ticket selling path). Elsewhere, it’s a huge problem. New York’s Attrorney General, Elliot Spitzer, is now going after ticket scalping as he has gone after other criminal enterprises. He makes a very, very strong case against ticket scalping. It makes for some good, though long reading. One of the conclusions is:

    “…What has evolved is a complex network of persons actively deriving huge profits from the resale of tickets and a system of ticket distribution that favors wealthy individuals and firms with access to entertainment and sports events that is denied or greatly limited to ordinary fans and tourists.

    This report is intended to shine light on an underground economy that persists because of a general lack of knowledge of the degree of the criminal activity involved. It is not just ticket scalping — it is bribery and tax evasion on a grand scale. In addition to violations of law, it involves inequity such as the massive diversion of tickets to insiders and people with connections, whether as a result of fraudulent activity or otherwise…”

    Bravo to this attempt at making it more difficult for ticket scalpers to operate. Yes, the buyer of scalped tickets will be in for a disappointing encounter at the door, but they will go after the scalpers, and once word gets out future concert-goers will think twice before buying from scalpers, which will drive the price down. Sure, the scalpers will change tactics. Hopefully, the venues and artists will keep pace.

  18. I bought tix on ebay – I confess. I also got into the show, no problem. I tried every ‘legitamate’ avenue in C’Ville to get them, but no luck. So, all I could think of was Ebay, where I’ve never bought anything. I was happy to pay the price for the seats and the show.

    As a consumer, what I think should happen is that Music Today should hold a percentage of seats until about 3 wks before the show, and then put them on the market at the regular price. The lower price tix would squeeze out the scalped ticket sales and force the scalpers to compete price-wise. There will always be people willing to pay top dollar for something they want to see, so the scalping biz will live on.

    Not sure I know every angle of this, but that’s my quick assessment based on my first experience with buying tix on ebay.

  19. First off, thanks for all the thoughtful commentary on this topic. When I posted this story I intentionally avoided airing my view in hopes to learn more from the community. Now I feel more informed to weigh in.

    A scalper represents another tier to the purchasing matrix. The venue (and Music Today) already creates a tiered price according to seating. Scalpers add a surcharge for people with other priorities than camping outside a ticket box or trying their luck buying online. From a purely capitalistic viewpoint, scalpers serve a market function and Music Today could probably make some money by selling a certain block of tickets in advance via Dutch Auction.

    Efforts to the contrary is simply to tilt at the windmill and a nuisance for the concert goer. I understand how fans find this situation annoying, but anytime you have n tickets and n ? people eager to buy, someone is going home unhappy. Scalpers will remain two steps ahead of the counter measures by Music Today so the ticket seller would be wise to find a market solutions instead of toeing the line of fairness.

  20. “I tried every ‘legitamate’ avenue in C’Ville to get them, but no luck. ”

    You probably had no luck because for each call you made for tickets, or for each online submission you tried to make, the scalpers made hundreds.

    Your idea of holding back a percentage of tickets until a few weeks before the show sounds good, until you realize that once again it would be hundreds of scalper calls clogging the lines. It would probably make no difference in fact. Scalpers have a ticket acquisition mechanism in place that makes it extremely difficult for the at-large public to get good seats at face value.

  21. I think stories in the press actually help educate people like me. I really never gave the issue a second thought until now. So, I’m glad there are people working behind the scenes to get creative in finding some kind of solution. Right now I feel that if I’m looking to go to a good show or game then I’m going online to find the tickets, and I’m not concerned about exactly who is selling them, I’m more concerned that I’m going to get the seats i want. I would prefer to buy them directly, but that never seems to be the case. And, I think I probably represent a lot of people.

  22. A number of tickets for both shows were “held back” and released around 3:30 pm on Thursday to the general public. I was able to buy two tickets (floor seats no less) on line through the JPJ arena web site on Thursday for the Saturday night show. I heard about the release on the radio.

    I had read recently that this late release tactic is one way ticket vendors get around ticket scalpers to allow true fans in to the show. The tickets are released too late for them to resell easily. My daughter, a true fan, was delighted!

  23. I’m guessing that these tickets that were sold are the tickets that they invalidated.

    If selling the tickets closer to the show date is an effective way of countering scalpers, why don’t they just sell all the tickets close to the show date?

    Even better, why can’t you just line up at the arena, and you pay for your ticket and walk in.

  24. It is very typical for tickets (and usually good ones) to be released a day or two before a show. There are contractual details that make tickets available to artists, promoters, sponsors, etc (in this case, likely to the University). Bands often don’t use their ration of tickets, and they are sold once the venue is informed that they won’t be needed. While it would be surprising if DMB didn’t use their entire allottment for a show in Charlottesville, it wouldn’t be unusual for hold-backs to be available. And as anoop noted, it’s possible that some of these last-minute tickets were among those invalidated due to the scalping enforcement. However, it’s unlikely that the late tickets were held back for the specific purpose of making them available too late for scalpers.

    If tickets were only available at the door on the day of the show, it would be sheer chaos. Can you imagine the line – and the number of people who would camp out for WEEKS in an effort to get tickets to see the DMB in Charlottesville? Crowd control would be a massive problem, and in many cases promoters would run a risk of not selling the venue out. On top of that, in most cases tickets go on sale months (in some cases, many months) before the show, which gives the promoter a significant amount of interest revenue. They won’t be giving that up, I’m sure!

  25. We went to a Tom Waits show in Asheville last month.

    Tickets were sold via phone and website. Payment could only be made via credit card. Only two tickets were permitted for each buyer. It sold out in half an hour. Will-call required proof of ID and the matching credit card, I believe.

    Yes, it locked out fans who didn’t realize they couldn’t have one person call for a carload of friends. Fans without phone, internet, and credit cards were out of luck. I think I saw *one* scalper outside the venue. Not sure about that.

    On the other hand, lost tickets were easily recovered. A girl in our row commented that her ticket was lost in the mail. She showed up and showed ID and the same credit card and the information was retrieved. She had her seat.

  26. I had the pleasure of talking with one of the band members today and mentioned the DP article about ‘cancelling’ resold tickets. He was obviously surprised, and even a bit skeptical. He questioned how that could be done and in the end, said it was a story just to sell newspapers. Does anyone know someone (directly, not 3rd hand) who was denied entrance?

  27. On a happier note, a band member walked into a local store on Saturday afternoon a few hours before the concert and started a conversation with one of the employees. Over the course of the conversation, he asked the guy where his seats were. When the employee went to the Saturday night concert, his tickets came up invalid. He went to the will call office to find out wassup, and the band member had left him two excellent tickets way up front.

    Now that’s cool. That’s Cville.

  28. Too bad Music today is in the rip off business anyway. You can’t buy tickets to the pavilion without a service charge. It is impossible. I tried every way however they always throw at least $5 extra in charges on there. So lets see here, you can’t sell the tickets for more than face, however you can’t buy the tickets for face. Then, if you do sell tickets to make your money back, bam, canceled tickets. Isn’t this illegal?

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