Music Industry

Explaining Ticketmaster’s controversial TradeDesk tool that’s used by ticket brokers and scalpers

The blow-up over the CBC/Toronto Star story on Ticketmaster’s apparent cozy relationship with ticket brokers and scalpers has spread worldwide. A couple of US senators decided to ask a couple of questions. The Star has followed up with this story.

In response to the congressmen’s questions, the Star has gathered company records and public comments — along with the investigation’s hidden camera findings — to detail what we know so far.

Here are the senators’ four questions:

1. Describe the event ticket-purchasing limits that Ticketmaster currently employs for sales on its primary ticket sales platform. Additionally, how does the company identify computer programs used to circumvent these purchasing limits?

Ticketmaster’s general terms of use prohibit customers from buying “a number of tickets for an event that exceeds the stated limit for that event.” That limit, posted when tickets go on sale, is typically six or eight seats per buyer.

“If we identify breaches of these limits … we reserve the right to cancel any such orders … Use of automated means to purchase tickets is strictly prohibited,” the rules state.

On Monday, Smith, who is Ticketmaster’s president of North American operations, said: “We spend a ton of money and a ton of time doing things like building software that prevents bots from buying tickets … We have gotten pretty effective at blocking people from buying lots of tickets, and we take it seriously.”

In the past, Ticketmaster has said it blocked more than five billion purchase attempts by bots in 2016. In short, Ticketmaster says it is rigorous about limiting box office sales to ensure fans get a fair shot at seeing the sports teams and artists they love.

Keep reading for the other three questions.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38117 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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