Music Industry

Ticketmaster Tries to Fight Bots and Scalpers with “Verified Fan” Program

You know the drill. A hot show finally goes on sale to the general public and it instantly sells out, scooped up by concert ticket-buying bots. Seconds later, tickets appear on secondary sites for grossly inflated prices, pissing off everyone who got shut out.

Ticketmaster feels your pain. Really.

In an unprecedented act of openness, Ticketmaster officials have been offering insight on how the company is working to defeat ticket-buying software.

Last year, Ticketmaster was hit by more than 5 BILLION bots and frankly, they’re sick of it. And they’re tired of being blamed by members of the general public who believe they’re being cheated out of concert tickets by robots. “DO SOMETHING,” they scream.

Well, they’re trying. Along with investing millions in AI, data science and machine learning–all things that are designed to filter out the bots–Ticketmaster has launched something called “Verified Fan.”

When your band announces a show, you can register with Ticketmaster through your Ticketmaster account. If their software determines that you’re a real person and not a bot, you’ll be “registered.” The day tickets go on sale, you’re sent a unique code which you can then use online to get your tickets.

Since the program was rolled out, 1.5 million fans have been verified. Tours by Katy Perry, Twenty One Pilots. Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheeran have all used the technology. In the case of a hometown show by Twenty One Pilots, only 4% of the tickets ended up on secondary sites. That’s a big drop from previous levels of 30 to 50%.

It’s not perfect, but according to Ticketmaster, this has cut down on tickets going to scalpers by 90%. It’s that last ten per cent that will be tricky.

FastCompany has more on Verified Fan here. I’ve written something for the Globe and Mail which should hopefully appear this week. Stand by for details.

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 38296 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “Ticketmaster Tries to Fight Bots and Scalpers with “Verified Fan” Program

  • It works pretty well. I’ve used it for tickets for a few shows now, including The National’s Vancouver show, and have ended up with very good seats (row 14 for The National – a friend got front row). The codes are personalized which I’ve always thought was a better system.


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