Reselling Concert Tickets: Is It Ethical To Profit From Others’ Desperation? | Vietcetera
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Jul 11, 2023

Reselling Concert Tickets: Is It Ethical To Profit From Others’ Desperation?

As some of the planet’s biggest music superstars have scheduled tours in Vietnam, the business of ticket scalping is flourishing.
Reselling Concert Tickets: Is It Ethical To Profit From Others’ Desperation?

Although ticket scalping is not a new phenomenon, the magnitude of the situation surrounding Taylor Swift's The Eras Tour is unparalleled. | Source: Shutterstock

Picture this: You’re a devoted fan of both Taylor Swift and Blackpink, two global music sensations. Your heart races with excitement as you eagerly anticipate the day when tickets for their respective concerts go on sale. However, there’s a twist in this musical tale – both artists have coincidentally decided to open ticket sales on the exact same day.

The realization hits you: securing tickets for these highly anticipated events will be an uphill battle. The immense popularity of these artists amplifies the challenge, and you find yourself caught in the whirlwind of emotions as you contemplate the daunting task of securing your spot at these unforgettable concerts.

What would you do?

Try checking Facebook Marketplace and you’ll see concert tickets for sale. Purchase at your own risk.

Trina, a huge Swiftie (a fan of Taylor Swift), felt heartbroken when she failed to secure concert tickets for herself and her younger sisters. The opportunity to attend the concert held immense importance for them. The thing is, despite their strong desire, they were unlucky in obtaining tickets. Trina couldn’t help but feel a sense of unfairness when she discovered that even less passionate fans had managed to secure spots. Faced with desperation, she considered purchasing tickets from scalpers.

“To be honest, even if I have to pay double the original price, I would,” she said. “I’m willing to pay more than the original selling price if that would ensure a slot for me and my sisters.” Trina was willing to go the extra mile to ensure a slot for herself and her sisters. As of this writing, the young Vietnamese and her sisters are still on the lookout for Categories 1 or 2 tickets.

Linh Huynh, a die-hard Blink (super fan of Blackpink), managed to purchase two Category 3 tickets for the second day of the Born Pink concert in Hanoi. Linh didn’t mind being farther from the stage, as long as she could experience Taylor Swift's live performance.

Like Trina, Linh wasn't fortunate enough to obtain tickets during the initial sale. However, she discovered resellers online who presented several options at varying prices. The jaw-dropping prices astonished Linh, compelling her to settle for Category 3 instead of her original preference, Category 1 (Standing).

“I was ecstatic to find online resellers, who were a godsend for people like me who couldn't get tickets,” Linh told Vietcetera via chat. “But I was shocked to see how much they were charging, significantly increasing the prices.”

After considerable begging and consideration, Linh’s budget could only accommodate the now-priced VND5.5 million Category 3, despite its actual value being VND3.8 million. Had she gotten the tickets from the legit platforms, she would only need to spend an extra VND300,000 for the Category 1 (Standing) box.

As some of the planet’s biggest music superstars have scheduled tours in Vietnam, including Blackpink and Charlie Puth, the business of ticket scalping is flourishing. Soaring demand and limited ticket availability create an environment where resellers can capitalize on the situation for their own financial gain. This, in turn, raises significant ethical concerns regarding the fairness and accessibility of concerts for genuine fans.

Both concert fans interviewed by Vietcetera preferred to remain anonymous due to fears of backlash. They also chose not to disclose specific details about their interactions with scalpers, emphasizing their desire for privacy and avoiding potential complications. Both sources were found via Facebook groups.

Screengrab from a Facebook group post selling Taylor Swift concert tickets.

The General Principle of Concert Ticket Reselling

When you purchase an item, you possess the right to resell it at a price determined by the market. However, the ability to resell concert tickets at significantly inflated prices is derived from the artist’s decision to offer them at a lower cost, thereby making them more affordable to fans with limited means. When individuals or automated bots acquire these lower-priced tickets with the intention of reselling them, they exploit this concession and reduce the availability of seats at more reasonable prices.

In recent times, scalping has become increasingly prevalent, particularly with the resurgence of live entertainment post-pandemic. While some argue that ticket reselling platforms provide a marketplace for buyers and sellers, others caution against the presence of shadowy and unscrupulous individuals on various social media platforms, ready to take advantage of desperate and unsuspecting fans.

Read: Being A K-Pop Fan Can Be Exciting — But It Can Also Be Expensive

Screengrab from a Facebook post of a Vietnamese selling Blackpink concert tickets.

The Imbalance between Supply and Demand

Presently, scalping has become rampant due to the overwhelming demand for concert tickets, especially when it involves renowned artists performing at large venues to offer their fans an up-close and personal experience. However, the reality is that only a small number of tickets are available, leading owners of these tickets to sell them at significantly higher prices.

According to basic economic principles, prices will naturally increase as long as demand outstrips supply. Yet, in the case of concert tickets, where fans who were unsuccessful in the general sale still have a chance to attend by paying a higher price, the ethical implications become a matter of debate.

The Moral Predicament of Ticket Reselling

Many argue that profiting from reselling concert tickets for more than their original cost is morally wrong. The prevailing consensus is that selling tickets to fellow fans at inflated prices is a rip-off and unfair practice. Although ticket scalping is not a new phenomenon, the magnitude of the situation surrounding Taylor Swift's The Eras Tour is unparalleled. The announcement of a career-spanning tour by one of the world’s most prominent pop stars inevitably attracts fans from all corners of the globe.

However, even Ticketmaster, the ticket-selling platform responsible for distributing these coveted tickets, was unprepared for the overwhelming demand. With two million tickets sold in a single day, a record-breaking feat, numerous disappointed fans were left empty-handed, Trina and Linh included. Thus, they turn to scalpers. And as desperate as it may look, their love for their idols is greater than any moral argument.