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Band managers press Ticketmaster on alleged tout connection

Multiple top band managers are demanding answers from Ticketmaster president Jared Smith about the firm’s alleged relationship with scalpers via its TradeDesk platform.

Following a report by CBC/Toronto Star that highlighted a supposed partnership between Ticketmaster’s TradeDesk and touts, leaked emails showed notable band managers questioning the ticketing giant’s practices.

Paul Crockford, who manages Mark Knopfler, the former Dire Straits frontman, questioned Smith on how to “avoid your relationship via Trade Desk conflicting with our proposed T&Cs on numbers of tickets sold.”

Crockford cced multiple managers onto the email thread, including those who manage Drake, Depeche Mode, and Bruno Mars, among others. Smith responded stating that Trade Desk has been misrepresented by the press.

“Neither it nor we facilitate mass purchase of tickets by brokers or anyone else,” Smith wrote. “To be absolutely clear our priority is the artist and you fan. We will absolutely work with you on this and make sure we help you avoid mass sales.”

Smith directed Crockford to David Marcus, Ticketmaster EVP, Head of Music where he was told that Trade Desk is a resale tool that doesn’t purchase tickets from the box office, but rather helps them manage their tickets.

When questioned more, Marcus said that Trade Desk is the only platform that validates that a ticket is real and in the seller’s possession with an authentic bar code.

“To be crystal clear: Trade Desk does absolutely nothing to aide in the acquisition of inventory, and we absolutely do not facilitate the mass purchase of tickets by anybody, ever,” Marcus said.

Mumford & Sons manager Adam Tudhope posed the question via the email thread: “Why be in the business of facilitating brokers at all?” While Pixies and Teenage Fanclub manager Richard Jones explained that Ticketmaster’s responses during the email were similar to “a kid with his hand caught in a cookie jar.” Other managers who were cced on the email told CBC they are appealing to Live Nation to stop facilitating the resale of tickets.

Earlier this month, Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from New Jersey, cited the CBC report in a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The letter asks for the Justice Department to conduct a “thorough investigation of anti-competitive behaviour by monopolistic Ticketmaster to root out speculation and anti-consumer behaviour in the opaque ticket marketplace.”

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