Chuck Schumer’s new bill aimed at ticket resellers is designed to add some transparency into the secondary ticket market and prevent resellers from scooping up the best seats and selling them for a huge markup.
It will accomplish neither of these goals.
When the Senate reconvenes today, Schumer plans to introduce a bill that would impose a two-day waiting period from when tickets first go on sale before they can be sold on the secondary market by resellers TicketsNow or StubHub. The law would also require those who resold tickets to obtain a federal registration number from the FTC that would have to be posted when they put their tickets on the secondary market.
But the bill has two major flaws:
- It does nothing to address the real scandal in the ticket reselling business, which is the practice of artists and primary ticket sellers like Ticketmaster reselling their own tickets for a huge profit. Oftentimes artists and concert promoters set aside batches of tickets to place on the secondary market. Schumer’s bill does nothing to stop this; it just makes these ticket scalpers wait longer to ripoff consumers. Even independent entities could simply buy tickets and resell them on the secondary market for a higher price; they’d just have to wait two days.
- The measures imposed by Schumer’s bill are arbitrary and useless. The only reason someone would go to a ticket reseller instead of the primary ticket seller before a concert’s sold out, let alone within the first two days of tickets going on sale, would be because the primary ticketing outlet directed them there. That was the case this past February when people trying to purchase Bruce Springsteen tickets were instantly redirected to Ticketmaster’s secondary retailer TicketsNow and incorrectly told the concert was sold-out. This incident, which likely inspired Schumer’s bill, seems like a technological glitch, albeit possibly one Ticketmaster intentionally created. Ticketmaster’s already vowed to no longer prelist tickets on TicketsNow, which it’s also trying to sell. Any other incidents of primary retailers directing fans to resellers before tickets were actually sold out would seem like technological problems that the primary ticket seller would have to resolve. This bill wouldn’t stop this from happening. Also, that registration number is useless unless it somehow identifies artists and concert promoters reselling their own tickets and blocks them from doing so. And we have a feeling they would go to great pains to conceal their identities.
It’s no wonder that Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff has already supported the bill, saying it’s “a very important step in reforming the [resale] process and bringing transparency to the on-sale process.”
Azoff’s right, the resale process does need to be reformed, and there needs to be more transparency. But in order to create that, Schumer should start by shining a light on Ticketmaster itself.
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