CMU Trends In Ten Live Music & Ticketing Library

CMU Trends In Ten: The Anti-Touting Campaign

By | Last Updated: April 2020

This is a ten step guide to the growth of the secondary ticketing market and efforts to regulate the resale of tickets for profit by touts online.

01. Ticket touting boomed as the ticket market at large moved online
Ticket touting – or scalping as it’s known in some countries – is hardly a new phenomenon. There have long been unofficial sellers who, having acquired tickets for in-demand shows, then seek to sell them on at a marked-up price. Some of those unofficial sellers would call themselves brokers and resell tickets through a formal business. Others embraced the term tout or scalper and would buy and sell tickets near a venue on the night of a show.

But the reach and scale of these unofficial sellers boomed as the ticketing business at large slowly shifted online in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As official ticket sellers – or primary ticket agents – started to launch websites and increasingly sell their tickets through online channels, the touts also embraced the web.

This was particularly true once auction sites like eBay started to gain momentum. These sites made it easy for anyone to sell products online without having to go to the effort of setting up their own website and online payment systems. They also provided a ready-made marketplace.

As touts started to post the tickets they were selling onto eBay-type sites, it became clear there was an increasingly significant number of music fans looking to buy. As a result, entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to develop resale sites specifically focused on tickets. These could be set up with live events and ticketing specifically in mind and therefore work in much the same way as the websites the primary ticket agents had launched.

And so what became known as the secondary ticketing market started to emerge, centred on the bespoke ticket resale platforms that were launched in the 2000s. As these new sites took the ticket touting business away from eBay, it acquired one of the biggest specialist resale platforms, StubHub, to ensure it stayed in the secondary ticketing business.