Music Industry

What’s the difference between ticket brokers, ticket resellers, and scalpers?

With the recent disastrous PR blow-up involving Ticketmaster and their apparently over-cozy relationship with ticket resellers, there’s been an even brighter spotlight on the secondary concert ticket market. This has led to a need to clarify the nomenclature involved. What’s the difference between a ticket broker, a ticket reseller, and a scalper?

Let’s start with the last one. In my world, a “scalper” is (a) the guy on the street outside a venue yelling “Who’s buying? Who’s selling?” and (b) the sort of amateur reseller who tries to make a buck by offering tickets for sale on Kijiji or Craigslist at inflated prices.

As for brokers and resellers, Music Think Tank takes over from here, starting with a description of a “ticket broker.”

When you’re trying to understand what a ticket broker is, It might be easiest to think of the term “broker” on its own first. What image pops into your mind? If you’re picturing a Wall Street type hoping to come up big on some penny stocks, you’re on the right track.

Like those traders, ticket brokers hope to buy something for a low price, sit on it and then flip it for considerably more than they paid for it. And like those suit-wearing squabblers shouting until closing bell, they’re relying on their own wits and intuition to try and predict what the market is going to do. Every purchase of a ticket (or more often a lot of tickets) is a risk they take hoping that they can sell them for a profit.  The main difference is that while Wall St. brokers sell stocks and bonds whose prices fluctuate based on the performance of the company and their perception in the market, brokers buy tickets whose prices tend to rise with increased demand and limited supply.

Keep reading.


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 38319 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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