Maryland’s Anti-Scalping Legislation Inches Closer to Becoming Law

anti-scalping legislation
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anti-scalping legislation
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Photo Credit: Michael Aleo

Today Bill 539 passed the Maryland legislature, moving the anti-scalping measure closer to becoming law. If passed, the law would make it illegal for resale companies to engage in speculative ticket sales.

The legislation will make online resale platforms like StubHub, TicketNetwork, SeatGeek, and Vivid Seats accountable under Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act. Selling speculative tickets will carry a penalty of up to $10,000 for the first infraction and $25,000 for each subsequent infraction. Maryland is the first state to consider such a penalty for ticket resellers as concert ticket prices soar.

“If the Attorney General’s study shows the gouging that’s occurring today continues, Merriweather will go back to the State House asking for a face value cap of ticket resales, which was passed overwhelmingly in the House earlier this session,” says Audrey Fix-Schaefer, Communications Director of Merriweather Post Pavilion.

I.M.P recently compared its ticket prices to resale prices to determine how much ticket scalping impacts consumers. Weezer tickets at its venue The Anthem were priced at $125 in the general sale. But speculative ticket site StubHub was offering the tickets for $5,572.

Alanis Morisette tickets for her Merriweather Post Pavilion concert were sold at $150 face value, but are available for $3,446 on TicketNetwork. They also found ‘free’ parking passes for the Merriweather Post Pavilion on sale at Vivid Seats for $125.

Ticket resellers are estimated to earn an average profit of $41,000 per show by charging at least two times the ticket’s face value on the secondary market. That’s according to a recent study conducted by the National Independent Talent Organization. That study found that some resellers charge ten times a ticket’s face value.

The Maryland ticketing bill would require all-inclusive ticket pricing from sellers, with an itemized list of charges—capping fees at 10%. It also bans ‘speculative tickets,’ which currently must be disclosed. Legislators say this disclosure is difficult to regulate and if passed, Maryland would become the second state after Nevada to eliminate speculative ticket sales.

“The artists work really hard for a price, and they’re also business people. Part of the equation is ‘what can my fans afford?’” I.M.P Communications Director Audrey Fix-Schaefer says. “Some people don’t understand [high prices] aren’t the artist or venue and that can disrupt the artist/fan relationship. To have someone else be so parasitic about our business is galling.”

Organizations that worked hard to support the passage of SB539 include:

  • National Independent Venue Association (NIVA)
  • Future of Music Coalition
  • American Association of Independent Music (A2IM)
  • All Good Presents
  • Artist Rights Alliance
  • Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP)
  • Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC)
  • Cash or Trade
  • Elkton Music Hall
  • Eventbrite
  • I.M.P., Maryland-based Venue Operator and Concert Promoter
  • International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM)
  • Music Artists Coalition (MAC)
  • Music Managers Forum-US (MMF-US)
  • National Independent Talent Organization (NITO)
  • North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents (NAPAMA)
  • Performing Arts Alliance (PAA)
  • Ramshead Presents
  • Recording Academy
  • Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)
  • United Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW)