Miley Cyrus fights scalpers with paperless tickets

Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:26am EDT
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By Ray Waddell

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - As Miley Cyrus prepares to hit the road this fall, the spotlight is shining on what was once a relatively minor piece of the touring puzzle: the ticket.

Or in this case, the lack thereof. Cyrus' tour will use paperless tickets, and that's causing a commotion, mostly among the scalpers who infamously made so much money from her last tour.

The 2007-08 Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Best of Both Worlds trek grossed $55 million and sold about 1 million tickets to 70 shows reported to Billboard Boxscore. But it also provided outraged parents with a bitter introduction to secondary vendors, who scooped up tickets and sold them at huge markups. The resulting controversy made Cyrus the poster child for what many perceived as an out-of-control resale market.

Now Cyrus' fall tour will make history as the first arena-level trek to embrace paperless ticketing in an attempt to thwart resellers. As is the case with airlines, those who purchase the tickets must be on hand with their credit card to gain admission.

"The focus was, 'How do we take all the information we gathered last time out and do a better job of it?'" says Jason Morey, Cyrus' manager and president of Morey Management Group, an affiliate of Ticketmaster Entertainment's Front Line Management. "It was important to us to address the issue of demand. We thought that of every single option that was available out there, this was a really viable option, to go with the paperless ticketing."

Those associated with the tour say public feedback has been generally favorable and that tickets are selling well, with nearly 500,000 purchased already. The fact that they're not blowing out immediately as they did on the last tour is evidence that brokers aren't flooding the system, they say.

Meanwhile, secondary market players are crying foul, protesting that they're being shut out from buying Cyrus tickets, or at least hindered, and predicting entrance chaos, and a consumer backlash, at concerts.

Sean Pate, director of communications at the secondary market leader StubHub, says the number of tickets sold by resellers during the 2007-08 tour has been overstated. "There was a lot of misperception that brokers had gobbled all the available inventory and posted it on StubHub or anywhere else," he says. "The reality was that StubHub sold roughly 5%-6% (of seats) at any one of the venues she played in terms of the total seats in the arena."   Continued...

<p>U.S. actress Miley Cyrus arrives for the German film premiere 'Hannah Montana-The Movie' in Munich April 25, 2009. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle</p>