Following CBC News/Toronto Star‘s investigation of Ticketmaster’s professional reseller program, multiple artists’ managers are now seeking answers from Ticketmaster over its relationship with scalpers.
CBC published leaked emails where notable band managers questioned Ticketmaster president Jared Smith, demanding to know why the ticketing giant is supporting scalpers. The first email was sent by Paul Crockford, who manages Mark Knopfler, the former Dire Straits frontman. Throughout the exchange with Smith, Crockford copied multiple managers onto the email thread, including those who manage Drake, Depeche Mode, and Bruno Mars, among others.
On September 19, when Crockford questioned Smith on how to “avoid your relationship via Trade Desk conflicting with our proposed T&Cs on numbers of tickets sold,” Smith said Trade Desk has been misrepresented by the press.
“Neither it nor we facilitate mass purchase of tickets by brokers or anyone else,” Smith wrote. “To be absolutely clear our priority is the artist and you fan. We will absolutely work with you on this and make sure we help you avoid mass sales.”
Smith then directed Crockford to David Marcus, Ticketmaster EVP, Head of Music. Marcus went on to say that Trade Desk is a resale broker tool that doesn’t purchase tickets from the box office, but rather helps them manage their tickets. When questioned more, Marcus said that Trade Desk is the only platform that validates that a ticket is real and in the seller’s possession with an authentic bar code.
“To be crystal clear: Trade Desk does absolutely nothing to aide in the acquisition of inventory, and we absolutely do not facilitate the mass purchase of tickets by anybody, ever,” Marcus said.
Adam Tudhope, manager of Mumford & Sons, also fought back in the email thread, posing the question: “Why be in the business of facilitating brokers at all?” Pixies and Teenage Fanclub manager Richard Jones explained that Ticketmaster’s responses during the email were similar to “a kid with his hand caught in a cookie jar.” Other managers who were cc’d on the email told CBC they are appealing to Live Nation to stop facilitating the resale of tickets.
During the same day that these emails were exchanged, CBC ran photos of hidden-camera footage showing a Ticketmaster representative promoting Trade Desk at the annual Ticket Summit conference in Las Vegas this past summer. According to CBC, a Ticketmaster staff member told the CBC investigative undercover reporter that Ticketmaster staff “turn a blind eye to scalpers who use hundreds of fake identities and accounts to exceed Ticketmaster’s own ticket-buying limits.”
Last week, Rep. Bill Pascrell asked the Department of Justice to investigate Ticketmaster in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In the letter, he mentioned CBC‘s investigation, noting that Ticketmaster’s collusion with ticket scalpers is “distorting the marketplace and harming consumers in the process.”