Broadway Ticket Resellers - Ticket Brokers, Ticket Scalpers, Craigslist, Stubhub, eBay and other ticket sellers.
Buying Broadway Tickets From The Non-Official Sources
Ticket resellers are exactly what they sound like -- people, or organizations, that purchase tickets and then re-sell them. A ticket reseller could be somebody who buys Broadway tickets, later finds out he won't be available on that date, and decides to sell the tickets on Craigslist. But most Broadway ticket resellers are "professional resellers," who buy up tickets to popular Broadway shows at face value so that they can resell them at a higher price.
Broadway Ticket Brokers
There are basically two types of professional Broadway ticket "re-sellers" -- ticket brokers and ticket scalpers. The difference is essentially one of legitimacy. Broadway ticket brokers are usually better established, often belonging to the National Association of Ticket Brokers, which helps ensure that they maintain certain guidelines in how they operate.
For years, New York based Broadway ticket brokers were only allowed to mark up their ticket prices by 20%. But in 2007, the restrictions in New York State were almost completely removed. As a result, Broadway ticket brokers and scalpers can charge as much as they like for the tickets that they re-sell. The only restriction still in place is the rule that says ticket resellers must keep at least 500 feet away from the venue - a rule that ticket scalpers usually ignore.
Broadway ticket brokers pride themselves on having access to popular and sold-out show tickets. In fact, these are the shows that they focus on (i.e. the top five most popular Broadway shows) because those are the shows that they stand to make the biggest profit on by re-selling at a marked up price. Less popular Broadway show tickets are always available at face value through Ticketmaster or Telecharge, so there is no reason for people to pay the ticket broker's inflated fee unless they aren't aware that they can purchase the tickets elsewhere for less. Fact is, many people aren't aware of this, so most ticket brokers offer tickets for the less popular Broadway shows as well. They just don't make very much from these sales because they don't mark them up very high (if they did, the customer would go looking around the internet for better ticket prices, and would eventually land on Ticketmaster or Telecharge).
The brokers get their tickets in a variety of ways, including using automated bots to buy up the Broadway tickets online as soon as they are released for sale. Another way the ticket get an edge over regular Broadway ticket buyers is by getting an American Express Gold Card, which comes with Amex privileges, which provides early purchase of Broadway tickets for members - they use this to buy up popular Broadway tickets during pre-sales.
The Hannah Montana Concert Ticket Debacle of 2007 Highlighted The Problem With Ticket Brokers
People who are very desperate to get tickets to a sold-out Broadway show at the last minute, or people who don't mind paying two to five times face value for good seats may appreciate ticket brokers, but most of the normal ticket-buying public does not. Broadway fans often complain about how ticket brokers snap up the best seats before anybody else has a chance and how the brokers' "services" are good for the rich at the expense of everyone else, but their complaints usually fall on deaf ears. Sometimes, though, ticket brokers take a lot of heat for their practices, especially when families and kids are involved.
Such as in 2007, when the parents of many disappointed children raised a ruckus in the press after they couldn't get tickets to the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana concerts because the brokers had purchased them in bulk and were reselling them for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
Others argue that what the ticket brokers do is fine since they are selling the tickets at their true market value. The problem with this reasoning is that oftentimes the ticket brokers will buy up all or nearly all of an entire section of the theater for a particular performance of a Broadway shows, effectively cornering the market on it. If ticket brokers own all the stock, then they are unfairly controlling the market. In the stock market this is seen as a hostile takeover.
Ticket Brokers Change Their Shape
Historically, Broadway ticket brokers have been a bricks and mortar operation, but now that anyone can set themselves up on the web in a matter of minutes, ticket brokers do most of their business on the internet. Ticket broker websites show their availability for the various Broadway shows, and customers can purchase tickets online. But what you see on these ticketing websites is not always what you get.
Most of the brokers are hawking their wares on numerous sites at once, and it is quite normal for them to post "dummy" seat locations rather than real ones. Once someone actually requests the tickets, the ticket broker will go through his various contacts to find comparable seats so that he can complete the sale.
Some of the more prominent ticket brokers for Broadway shows include Coast To Coast, Ticket Liquidator, TickCo, and TicketsNow. Applause Tickets specializes in Broadway show tickets, and RazorGator is an especially popular ticket broker, but those sites both have some of the most expensive tickets. Many people also use Broadway.com to buy Broadway show tickets, and, at first glance, their prices might appear to be much more reasonable than the other ticket brokers since Broadway.com tickets are usually only marked up $30-$70 above face value.
However, after you put in your order with Broadway.com, they simply contact the box office on your behalf and reserve the tickets for you (providing they're available, which they often aren't for the hotter shows) and then charge your credit card. So you're paying a huge fee for what you could have done on your own by contacting Ticketmaster or Telecharge.
The Broadway Ticket Scalper
Unlike ticket brokers, ticket scalpers work out in the street, selling tickets to folks trying to get into a Broadway show at the last minute. They have no obvious affiliation and can seem quite shady, especially since they aren't supposed to be within 500 feet of the Broadway theater and therefore have to sell their tickets on the sly.
What you may not know is that the ticket scalpers are actually working with the ticket brokers. The brokers hand off their extra inventory -- whatever Broadway tickets they couldn't sell in advance via phone or web -- to the ticket scalpers, who then attempt to unload the tickets directly at the theater right before the show in a bid to recoup the ticket broker's potential loss.
Since ticket scalpers are not officially affiliated with anyone, they are more likely than ticket brokers to deliberately pull stunts like selling fake Broadway tickets or attempting to sell outdated tickets. A great way to get some kind of guarantee from the ticket scalper is to ask to photograph him. Since selling Broadway tickets above face value is no longer illegal, this should not be a problem if the tickets are both real and from legitimate sources.
A great source for everything from jobs to classifieds, Craigslist is unfortunately a haven for illegitimate ticket resellers. There are many regular people trying to sell real Broadway tickets here, but there are also a lot of scammers. The reason for this is that Craigslist has no system of accountability (registration, feedback ratings, etc.), so it's the best place for a con artist to sell fake or nonexistent tickets. When genuine fans do resell their tickets here at face value, the ticket brokers usually buy them up first, only to turn around and re list the tickets for sky-high prices.
The online auction giant eBay has many listings for Broadway tickets. Because eBay monitors its sellers and allows buyers to leave feedback for public viewing, there aren't as many outright ticket scams perpetrated here. However, eBay ticket resellers are notorious for selling partial view Broadway tickets without disclosing that they are partial view, so potential bidders should inquire first.
Stubhub, which is actually owned by eBay, is a web site dedicated to the buying and selling of concert, sports, and Broadway tickets. It's a hugely popular site, boasting that it is the world's largest marketplace for tickets. The advantage of purchasing Broadway tickets on Stubhub rather than another site like Craigslist is that Stubhub insures all its sales, guaranteeing that the tickets you buy are genuine.
Stubhub markets itself as being "A place where fans can buy and sell tickets" but the reality is that it is dominated by ticket brokers, so you can be fairly certain that you'll be paying well above face value for tickets to popular Broadway shows (the seller isn't required to identify the original cost of the ticket, so you won't know by how much at the time of purchase). Stubhub takes a 15% commission on sales, further deterring real fans, who only occasionally have the need to resell their Broadway tickets, from choosing to sell them here.