Less than a minute after tickets for last August's Neil Diamond concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden went on sale, more than 100 seats were available for hundreds of dollars more than their normal face value on premium-ticket site TicketExchange.com. The seller? Neil Diamond.
Ticket reselling — also known as scalping — is an estimated $3 billion-a-year business in which professional brokers buy seats with the hope of flipping them to the public at a hefty markup.
In the case of the Neil Diamond concerts, however, the source of the higher-priced tickets was the singer, working with Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc., which owns TicketExchange, and concert promoter AEG Live. Ticketmaster's former and current chief executives, one of whom is Mr. Diamond's personal manager, have acknowledged the arrangement, as has a person familiar with AEG Live, which is owned by Denver-based Anschutz Corp.
Selling premium-priced tickets on TicketExchange, priced and presented as resales by fans, is a practice used by many other top performers, according to people in the industry. Joseph Freeman, Ticketmaster's senior vice president for legal affairs, says that the company's "Marketplace" pages only rarely list tickets offered by fans.
The vast majority of tickets are sold by the artists and their promoters with the cooperation of Ticketmaster. In fact, he says that for any concert to which Ticketmaster carries so-called platinum seats, the Marketplace sells only artist-sanctioned tickets, not those resold by fans.