Confessions of a Ticket Scalper: Billboard’s Candid Q&A

From Billboard:

As part of a Billboard special report on the state of the ticketing business, our touring expert Ray Waddell picked the brain of a ticket broker who’s been in the game, as he says, “since it was invented.” We chose to protext his identity so he’d speak freely. And he did.

So you’ve been active in the ticket brokering business?
You know how many airline miles guys like me have? I haven’t paid for a plane ticket since they came out with frequent-flier miles for using the credit card.

What’s it like out there in your business?
It’s out of control these days. I’ve been in this game since it was invented. I made my money, and this business is on the downside for me now. One of these days [brokers] are going to piss off the wrong people in the prosecutor’s office and they’re going to go after them criminally and make it stick. When the shit hits the fan, I want to be able to go to sleep at night.

What do you mean by “out of control”?
The bots. I met a guy who told me he had 600 modems in his piece of crap strip mall store that generated so much heat the neighbor couldn’t get their temperature right.

You’re talking about the use of automated bots that hit the ticketing company at on-sale with thousands of requests for tickets. How did brokers used to operate, say, 25 years ago?
Those guys were no angels, but they had actual businesses. There were checks and balances. These guys [today] that sell to StubHub and these other sites are able to lock up the entire inventory on these screens, decide what they want and dump back the rest. Sometimes they hire some computer genius to do their dirty work: “Get me the tickets, I’ll make the money, I’ll take the risk and put them up on all these [secondary-market] boards.” There’s another type of guy that says, “I’m going to find me a guy in India to write this program.”

Continue reading the rest of the story on Billboard