Scalper Bots: What Can We Do About Them?

Sometime in the next week or so, I’ll be at the Ontario Attorney General’s office (at the AG’s invitation, by the way) to offer my opinions on the scourge of scalper bots, those ticket-buying software program that elbow us meatbags aside when it comes to getting the best seats for the hottest shows.

We all hate these bots. But what can be done about them? FYIMusicNews reports on a CBC Marketplace look at the situation:

Scalper bots. That phrase has a sinister ring to it, suggesting cyborgs coming for your head.

In the concert business, they are considered public enemy No. 1, as the automated software (also referred to as ticket bots) routinely deprives regular music fans from buying the concert tickets they desperately crave.

This problem really hit the headlines this past summer, as controversy broke out over the inability of fans of The Tragically Hip to score fair-priced tickets for what was billed as that beloved band’s final tour.

Last week, CBC show Marketplace explored this topic, and managed to get the concert promoters and ticket sellers to acknowledge the troubling extent of the problem. Their headline read “Live Nation admits for the first time that brokers and bots made millions, leaving many fans shut out.”

The story quoted Joe Berchtold, chief operating officer of Live Nation, the world’s largest tour promoter and owner of Ticketmaster, which sold tickets for the Hip’s tour, as stating “The odds are absolutely stacked against the fan. Probably a third of the tickets went to bots, another third went to brokers who were just like fans, pounding away at the keyboard, but better trained, more aggressive at it, and maybe a third of them went to fans. There’s a big problem, and the big problem starts with bots.”

Continue reading here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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.

One thought on “Scalper Bots: What Can We Do About Them?

  • October 27, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Good luck Alan , I don’t think this is ever going to be solved at least not through legislation. Outlawing secondary ticket sites like Stubhub might help but I can’t see that happening. Too much corporate money to be made.

    I used to buy concert tickets for shows at MLG at a little jewelry store in Applewood plaza before ticketmaster ( Called BASS when it started) and nobody I knew ever got the great seats. Whether the store just didn’t get them or if they were siphoned of by the owner I can’t be sure. But in terms of availability for fans it seems like we weren’t a priority. Or at least that’s my impression.

    Thinking logically it is probably worse now though. Back then the scalpers were shady guys dodging cops on Carleton now they sit in boardrooms wearing suits.

    And that means they are much more powerful.


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