Music Industry

Just another couple of days before Ontario’s new ticketing laws come into effect–and there’s still plenty of confusion

Ontario’s new rules regarding the sale of event tickets–concerts, theatre, sports, etc.–go into effect on Sunday and truth be told, people still don’t know what’s going on.

Witness this email from “Dave” who clearly hasn’t spent any time looking at the situation.

Name: Dave

Email: [email protected]

Comment: Wow, great biased article against the new ticket rules. I can tell you’re a major reseller and enjoy ripping off fans. Poor you. New rules are great and stop greedy assholes like you from profiting off concert goers, I can see why edge is a terrible station when your main concern is stealing from listeners.

I tried to reply to Dave, but the email is fake. Coward.

Let me see if I can explain myself one more time.

Dear Dave

After months and months studying the ticket selling situation, I can report with confidence that it’s terribly, terribly broken. And I know this: the rules are doomed to fail and are destined to make things worse for ticket buyers, not better. I invite you to read all I’ve written on the subject beginning here. I certainly don’t think “Dave” did.

First, the good news: The legislation will go after people who use ticket-buying bots. That’ll be difficult–the last time I checked, the Internet extended beyond the borders of Ontario–but it’s a fight worth having. Something needs to be done to protect us poor meatbags from software that can hit Ticketmaster’s system thousands of times a second. Wipe ’em out, I say.

All-in-pricing? It worked for the airline industry (and boy, we’re grateful for that!), but the wording of the law is poor. Anyone who’s ever bought anything online knows that you as you click through the screens in the purchase process, additional fees and taxes are displayed the closer you get to checkout. In other words, we’re able to bail on the purchase if we deem that the final price is too high, just like any other online shopping experience.

Transparency in terms of the number of tickets actually available? Again, a good idea but once you study the issue, this quickly becomes murky. I’d love to see this kind of thing, but the industry was able to get this removed from the legislation.

Where things really go off the rails is with the price cap on resold tickets. As of Sunday, it will be illegal to charge more than 50% more than the face value of any ticket. Here are my objections to that:

  • What’s so special about the price of a concert ticket? I want a limit on the price of a limit of gas, but that’s a commodity regulated by market forces. I don’t like paying $700 to fly to see my folks in Winnipeg, a distance of 1,507 km from my home airport in Toronto. Meanwhile, I regularly get price alerts about fares to Singapore, a frequent destination for me that’s 15,003 km away, that run less than $600, taxes in. The same supply and demand rules apply to concert tickets.
  • Whenever you have a distortion of market forces, grey and black markets are created. The new rules will just push transactions deeper underground where there are ZERO consumer protections.
  • Price caps will only make it cheaper for those who can already afford to buy tickets on the secondary market.
  • Price caps do nothing to help with the issue of inventory. When it comes to hot shows, there are always going to be more bums than seats.
  • There are plenty of ways to outfox scalpers and resellers. Credit card front-of-the-line access. Join the band’s fan club for early access to tickets. Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program has its advantages.
  • The vast secondary market in concert tickets just proves that face values are too low to begin with. The best thing to do is follow the pricing on the secondary market right up until the last 24-48 hours before a show. That’s when the vast majority of purchases are made–and it’s a true reflection of what the actual market value of a ticket is. And people remember the gigs were tickets are higher than face value. No one talks about the shows where secondary sellers take a loss because there’s no demand.
  • Who’s going to police the price of concert tickets in Ontario? The government hasn’t made it clear. And they certainly didn’t create a new department to look after this situation.
  • What’s the complaint mechanism? Call the cops? 911? The guy down the street with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch? It’s not clear.

The new laws are nothing but a desperate populist move by a desperate government that was thrown out in the last election. This will not end well.

Got that now, Dave?


Alan C.



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 37808 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “Just another couple of days before Ontario’s new ticketing laws come into effect–and there’s still plenty of confusion

  • “Something needs to be done to protect us poor meatbags from software that can hit Ticketmaster’s system thousands of times a second.”

    I agree. But why doesn’t Google reCaptcha feature prevent the bots? Are you telling me they can click all the squares that contain “Cars” or “Street Signs” thousands of times a second? Isn’t this technology that’s been solved?

    • AI is smart and getting smarter. Ticketmaster deal with five BILLION bot attacks last year and managed to repel more than 70% of them. But those damn robots are good.


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