The words ”ticket scalper” are marked by centuries of taboo and stigma. The ticket scalper’s infamous and criminalized legacy persists today, as state legislation, artists and venues try to control and prohibit the resale of tickets.

As ticket reseller platforms and marketplaces have expanded and moved into a virtual setting, there remains a major discrepancy in who is affected most severely by the legislation and stigma. The split between a ticket reseller in front of a venue and a large corporation like Ticketmaster may seem obvious to most event consumers, but what really distinguishes these two?

A recent post on Twitter by musician Margo Price, a rising American country artist, illustrated the stigma associated with ticket resellers. Price posted a video on twitter, where she confronts a ticket reseller outside of her show at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, GA. While Price is a self-proclaimed artist challenging conventional politics, economic inequality and sexism, the video she shows her actions may not align with her words.

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Price approaches the ticket reseller and asks, mockingly, “Do you know this girl? Is she good?” She continues to ask how much he is selling the tickets for, in which he responds that each ticket is $25, just about face value for the show that night. It becomes clear that not only is this ticket reseller helping Price increase the attendance to her show with last-minute transactions, but that she has already profited off this ticket being sold in the primary market.

If Price was concerned with the inflation of her tickets, then instead of mocking and attempting to expose an independent ticket broker trying to make a living, which she claims to understand so well, she might first address the millions of dollars in profit that corporate platforms like Ticketmaster yield.

The kind of suspicion and distrust Price displays towards the ticket reseller is an all too common reaction for many consumers. The U.S. Minority Ticketing Group (USMTG), a national association advocating for minority businesses including ticket brokers, artists, promoters and event professionals, represents and fights for small business people like the one Price ridiculed. In response to this video, the organization’s Executive Director Scot X. Esdaile, stated, “Interactions like these are indicative of the treatment and discrimination that minority and small business people receive in the entertainment industry and beyond.”

Then, the question of what distinguishes an independent ticket reseller in front of a venue from Ticketmaster has nothing to do with legitimacy. The trope of legitimacy surrounding ticket resellers has been carved by history’s long arc of stigmatizing independent resellers as scammers and frauds. If Price and other wary consumers really care about fair and honest business, then the first step would be challenging large corporations self-authorizing their legitimacy to credibly scam consumers. In the meantime, the USMTG will continue fighting for consumer protection and minority business owners in the entertainment industry.

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Last Updated on April 29, 2019

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