Ed Sheeran Cancels 50,000 Tickets On Latest Tour Sold To Scalpers, Gives Them Back To Fans

Ed Sheeran has a carrot and stick approach to the secondary market.

The carrot is Ticketmaster’s new Verified Fan program, requiring concert-goers to register in advance to purchase tickets for his upcoming Divide World Tour. The stick came in the form of 50,000 ticket cancelations aimed at scalpers, whose seats were revoked and then resold to fans who had already verified their identity with Ticketmaster.

“The Verified Fan program gives us some great tools to figure out who is a real fan, and who isn’t,” Ticketmaster’s President of North America Jared Smith tells Billboard. “It changes the equation and puts new assets at our disposal to identify fans.”

Smith explains that Verified Fan works because it slows transactions down and allows the company to scrub its list of bot and scalper purchases. Prior to Ed Sheeran’s fan presale, an email was sent to fans encouraging them to register to purchase tickets in advance. Fans were required to provide Ticketmaster with an email address and a phone number, and then that contact data was scrubbed against a database of known resellers and accounts tied to scalpers.

The coordinated effort between Ticketmaster and the Messina Touring Group, which is promoting the Sheeran run, resulted in the sale of 350,000 tickets to verified fans.