One of the music industry’s biggest concert promoters, Live Nation, are pouring $100 million into Ticketmaster to help improve the ticketing platform’s services as well as taking the fight to ticketing bots taking advantage of the company’s outdated systems, Music Week reports.
Live Nation COO Joe Berchtold revealed the news of the multi-million dollar move, saying that over the next three years it would be “re-platforming” Ticketmaster, which became the promoter’s official ticketing partner following a merger in January 2010.
Berchtold says the $100 million investment will ensure a “substantial” market share boost in secondary ticketing to help “move it (Ticketmaster) forward from its 1980s technology that it had when we did the merger in 2010.” The move will chiefly help Live Nation in the “arms race” against automated ticketing bots, says Berchtold, as it continues to lose large numbers to scalpers using pre-programmed software to snaffle up tickets and sell them on in the secondary market at profit.
As previously reported, Ticketmaster has been escalating efforts against the use of ticketing bots in several court cases. In April, they accused 21 people in a federal lawsuit of fraud, copyright infringement and other other offences over bot use over a period of two years. While another recent case found that ticket-buying drones were grabbing up to 200,000 tickets a day.
“Part of this $100m we’re spending is about figuring out how to do a better job stopping bots,” says Berchtold, “we need to reduce the scalpers’ ability to go in and get the number of good tickets they’re getting.” part of those efforts include upgrading Ticketmaster’s CAPTCHA technology (those squiggly lines of random text and made-up words you must pass as a security check), along with other tech improvements. “We need to reduce the scalpers’ ability to go in and get the number of good tickets they’re getting.” – Joe Berchtold, Live Nation
“We’ve got people that are doing all sorts of algorithms that look at your IP address, how quickly you’re entering key strokes, to try to make an assessment on whether you’re a human or a bot well beyond just the CAPTCHA,” explains the Live Nation COO.
It will hopefully improve previous methods, with Ticketmaster noting that bots identified during concert ticket sales, which were snapping up to 60% of allocation in some instances, weren’t being booted or banned (as it’s technically not illegal) but instead “speedbumped” – slowing them down by booting them to the back of the ticketing queue.
“We’re not trying to stop anybody from buying tickets,” said an online fraud specialist hired by Ticketmaster about the policy, “we’re just trying to make sure that a fan can buy the tickets.” Though Live Nation and Ticketmaster are happy to take scalpers’ money as their hands are legally tied, they are aware of how the frowned upon use of ticketing bots is harming their image as well as the concert business’ economic viability.
“It’s an arms race. We get a little better, then [the bot operators] get a little better. It’s ongoing investment,” says Berchtold. “It’s one of the things Ticketmaster will ultimately be able to make better because we have the scale and we can make that investment in technology – we have to do it.”
Along with blocking out scalpers, the new $100 million investment will see Live Nation launching a new ‘fan-friendly’ service with the introduction of a mobile and computer platform through which consumers can share and resell their tickets online.
Called Ticketmaster-Plus, the new ticketing platform launches in the US next week, and will combine the Live Nation-owned secondary market sit GetMeIn with the might of Tickemaster to put all of the promoter’s “events on the same page,” explains Berchtold. “You can buy either (primary and secondary tickets), but you know it will be a safe, secure transaction.”
“Because we own the IP on the 400 million-[plus] tickets that we issue every year, we can cancel the ticket you’re selling and reissue it directly [to the buyer],” says Berchtold, emphasising that the need to “authenticate and reissue the ticket” through TicketMaster-Plus will help weed out “a lot of issues [of] late with fraudulent tickets.”