Eric Church gets the final laugh at re-sellers by canceling their tickets and putting them back on sale.
Eric Church is tired of re-sellers ripping off his fans.
“They buy thousands of tickets across the U.S., not just mine, and they end up making a fortune,” Church told the Associated Press. “They use fake credit cards, fake IDs. All of this is fraud.”
The country artist doesn’t want to see his diehard supporters — who call themselves the “Church Choir” — beat out by scalpers to tickets for his upcoming tour. And he definitely doesn’t want to see them have to pay more than their original value.
So, he’s taking matters into his own hands.
The singer and guitarist’s 63-date North American tour kicked off on Thursday, Feb. 23. But leading up to it, Church’s team — comprised of employees and interns — monitored ticket sales and looked for suspicious patterns.
So far, Church and his team announced that they’ve cancelled 25,000 ticket purchases from supposed-scalpers, and have put them back on the market for fans to purchase.
“We’ve been doing this for a while, but not quite on this scale,” Fielding Logan, Church’s manager, told Billboard.
According to Billboard, the team looked for purchase patterns that matched scalper buying habits, including multiple purchases on the same credit card, or purchasing tickets for a show that was out of the cardholder’s state.
“Occasionally we catch someone who we thought was a scalper, but turned out to be a dedicated fan,” Logan said.
When that’s the case, the buyer is instructed to show up at will-call with a valid ID to get their tickets. “When most of the big brokers heard about those in-person requirements, they just walked away,” he told Billboard.
“The short version of the story is that Church is intent on making sure his fans don’t pay more than face value for tickets,” Chuck Yarborough of Cleveland.com reported. In Cleveland alone, 157 ticket sales were canceled and put back on sale through Church’s website.
According to Twin Cities Business Mag, “estimates vary, but most analysts put the size of the secondary ticket market at about $5 billion to $10 billion and growing.” The magazine is based out of Minnesota — the first state to legalize ticket resale without constraints or regulation. “In many states, much of this economic activity happens under the table or in the gray shadows of the law.”
The scalping war continues
Church isn’t the first to battle scalpers head-on. Last year when Adele’s tour tickets were made available, the shows sold out the same day. According to Billboard, an estimated 10 million people took to Ticketmaster simultaneously.
Within hours, the tickets were popping up on ticket reselling services like StubHub and eBay for prices ranging between $4,000 and $5,000.
Adele worked with with the British company Songkick — which helps artists sell tickets through their fan clubs and websites — according to Rolling Stone. From there, the pop artist’s reps went through lists of purchasers and refunded anything that looked fishy.
According to the article, critics said Adele could fix the problem by either making tickets more expensive — they ranged between $100 and $150 — or adding more shows. But she was already doing 105 performances, including six at Madison Square Garden.
Nearly a decade earlier, Tom Petty dealt with something similar. After around 600 tickets sold through a fan club promotion appeared on a secondary market website, the artist worked with his team to get them canceled and resold. He did the same at Madison Square Garden for an additional 800 tickets.
In December, former President Barack Obama signed the Better Online Ticketing Sales Act, meant to combat reselling by banning ticket-buying bots and ordering the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the law.
But as Billboard detailed, Church isn’t waiting on the FTC. He’s invested his own money into proprietary software that will flag suspicious transactions.
“This is the most resources I’ve ever seen dedicated to fighting scalpers,” tour promoter Louis Messina, who is promoting Church’s “Holdin’ My Own Tour,” told Billboard.
“They manually have to go through each transaction to scrub the list,” he said. “It’s a ton of manpower and money that Eric won’t recoup, but he’s doing it because he believes it’s the right thing to do.”