Attention ticket bot users and scalpers: Eric Church is not amused with your shenanigans.
The multi-platinum country artist is in the middle of his “Holdin’ My Own” tour, which was announced last August, but took action this week in defense of his fans.
According to CMT.com, Church has commissioned a proprietary technology capable of scrubbing ticket purchases to determine which were bought by scalpers or bots, “using up to 10 different data points and automatically flags orders” that appear to be made illegally or with underhanded practices. Orders can be cancelled at any time and, earlier this week, some 25,000 tickets were cancelled, the purchases refunded and the seats made available through Church’s website.
A member of Church’s management team tells CMT, “Ticket scalpers got their money back and we would expect that scalpers would in turn refund their customers. But with ticket scalpers, you never know! Fans would have a strong case for contesting charges with their credit card company if they paid for something that the scalper didn’t deliver.”
The spokesperson added that they “hope fans who are in this situation will be able to buy face value tickets from the venue’s official website when we release the tickets. That’s why we give fans a heads up as to the exact time we are going to do it.”
In the meantime, a representative from StubHub tells Billboard he’s confident fans who bought tickets through that secondary market platform won’t have any trouble getting in to the shows.
“In the rare occurrence a buyer runs into an issue, StubHub will find replacement tickets or offer a full refund,” said StubHub spokesman Glenn Lehrman. “We are confident in our ability to get people who bought tickets on StubHub into his shows.”
That confidence is likely due to the healthy state of the eBay-owned reseller: the company’s fourth quarter earnings report indicated revenues of $279 million, a 20% increase from last year at this time. But StubHub declined–refused?– to tell Billboard how many tickets to Eric Church’s tour had been sold on that platform.
All of the remaining dates on Church’s tour are implicated in the ticket cancellation. The tour runs through the US and Canada through May 27 in Nashville.
Church is an outspoken advocate on behalf of his fans, telling the Associated Press last year that all musicians have the opportunity to do what he does – to establish a series of checks and protocols to ensure real people, real fans, are getting tickets to his shows, but are choosing not to.
In a statement on his website, Church reiterates a message he delivered when the tour was first announced last summer: “You come at us, we’re going to go after you in return. You come after our fans? Well, let’s just say we see you, we know how you are, and we’re coming for you with 10x the vengeance.”
His outrage isn’t new, either. In 2014, he told Rolling Stone Country that fraudulent ticket buying practices drive him “fucking crazy…. The problem I have is that scalpers have a bazillion people working for them. And they have those bots that scan. So it’s not fair. I’ve been told to raise my prices. But there’s guys out there that want to come to a show and bring their family to a show and are working a blue-collar job, they were there for use in bars and clubs, so I should raise to $100 because that’s what the scalpers thing? I refuse to believe that.”
Ticket bots and scalpers are, of course, the bane of many concert goers existence as of late. Federal legislation in the US is aimed at making it harder for bot operators to function, while the man who invented ticket bots is establishing a system to make it obvious that it’s in the best financial interest of bands, artists, venues, promoters and primary ticket sellers to ensure fans get seats to the events they most want to see. Few artists have gone to this great length to deny bots and scalpers their inflated prices and reward their shady operations, however.
So if you’re going to an Eric Church show this spring, raise a glass to an artist who isn’t just talking the talk, but is putting his boot down and walking the walk for his fans.