Music Industry

How does the secondary market for concert tickets work? Glad you asked

[This is the third of three articles I wrote for Global News on the difficulties and frustrations of buying concert tickets, – AC]

There’s no such thing as a sold-out show. You can always find tickets if you know where to look, and if you’re willing to pay the price.

While the world buys up an estimated US$30 billion in concert tickets annually (we call this the primary market), the secondary market (where tickets purchased at face value can be found at markups many multiples of their original price) is worth at least US$8 billion globally. That means there’s a lot of scalping going on, ranging from big companies like StubHub to small-time players shouting “Who wants tickets?” outside a venue.

Here are five things that help explain what’s going on.

Read on.

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 38431 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “How does the secondary market for concert tickets work? Glad you asked


    Alan, weird concert related story, comedy not music. Last week I saw a paid FB post that Steve Martin & Martin Short were coming to the Sony Centre. This was supported by a Toronto Star article, the link is above. I’m a long time Steve Martin fan and had heard from folks who saw this last year that it was a great show. Personal connection, back in 1977 when I was laid up in body cast for a year (long story), I wrote Steve Martin a fan letter and he actually responded with a very funny note that I still have.

    According to both the paid FB ad, and The Star, tickets were slated to go on sale this morning, Monday January 29th at 10am for a show on October 19th. I searched the Ticketmaster site on Sunday night, but there was no mention of a Toronto show, however they were out on tour and the posting on Ticketmaster had them doing shows until late September, so it made sense that an October date would be next. Weird that there was no pre-promotion on Ticketmaster, but I thought with all of the Elton John noise maybe a smaller show going on sale this week had gotten lost. So this morning, I log into TM at 10am, but there is no show listed for Toronto. Multiple refreshes, still nothing. I call the Sony Centre and speak to a lovely lady in the ticketing, and she has no knowledge of a Steve Martin & Martin Short show on October 13th. Apparently I wasn’t the only person calling.

    Perhaps it’s Russian hackers buying space on Facebook, although you’d think they’d have better things to do like subvert another election. As for The Star, not sure where they got their story. So there’s a mystery afoot in concert world, not sure if you can find the answer, but there you go.

    Sandy Fraser


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