How a Vermont Tech Startup is Disrupting the Concert-Going Experience as we Know It.

11/02/2017 01:45 pm ET

Lately artists have been taking a stand against scalpers-- Bruce Springsteen implemented an arduous pre-registration system, Chance the Rapper purchased nearly 2,000 seats from scalpers and made them available to fans for the original price, and Eric Church even went so far as to cancel 25k tickets that were bought by scalpers. However aside from verified fan programs and lottery systems, there is CashorTrade.org, who has been fighting for fans’ right to face value tickets since 2009.

Founded by Brando and Dusty Rich, CashorTrade came to life after the brothers were shut out of Phish’s triumphant return to Hampton Coliseum. The website supplied over 50,000 tickets to fans at face value throughout Phish’s recent Baker's Dozen, amounting to nearly 25% of all the seats Madison Square Garden sold during the 13-night run. It is been called the "Airbnb of tickets." They are disrupting a $9 billion industry that is expected to reach $15 billion by 2020, taking on ticket giants such as Stubhub and TicketsNow.

Their platform has members from 20 countries worldwide and has had over a half million transactions to date. Perhaps what is most astounding is not the product the Rich brothers have created, but rather the dedicated community they have built. As they say, "Together we are the change this industry so badly needs."

Taraleigh: For those who have never heard of CashorTrade before, what’s it all about?

Brando: CashorTrade is the world's only social network where fans buy, sell, and trade tickets for face value. It’s the first ethical platform where fans can sell their tickets for free. There is a level of transparency and sense of community that does not exist anywhere else in the secondary ticket market.

My brother Dusty and I are longtime live music fans from Vermont. We became tired of seeing scalpers profit off the backs of artist, venues, and fans. Vermont has always been a state that prides themselves on trusted and quality products with natural ingredients. CashorTrade was built on many of the same core values as Vermont greats: Ben and Jerry's, Seventh Generation, Phish and Bernie Sanders. We strive to provide a quality service to fans with a social mission of doing good for one another and the planet.

Taraleigh: CashorTrade is my personal resource for face value tickets. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten into shows for face value that were sold out for months where tickets on StubHub were going for thousands of dollars. You mentioned the secondary ticket market. What is that?

Brando: The secondary ticket market involves all companies that allow the resale of tickets that were previously purchased for face value on the primary market. Unfortunately all of these companies allow the resale of these tickets above face value…. and charge fees upwards of 25%. In most cases both the buyer and the seller are charged fees, forcing sellers to charge above face value just to get their money back.

Taraleigh: How are you different from other resellers such as Stubhub/Live Nation/etc?

Brando: CashorTrade is the first platform designed for fans by fans, where all tickets are face value or below, with no fee.

Taraleigh: When you are on the CashorTrade website, I see that there’s an option to become a member. What are the benefits?

Brando: Using CashorTrade over, say posting to c=Craigslist or Facebook, provides an added level of protection. Members validate their email, phone, and address. With each transaction, they gain reviews building their credibility which in turn, helps them score face value tickets in the future. Much like Airbnb, when a member replies to a post, all communication and trade activity is kept in one place on the site. Receipts are uploaded for review and payments are processed within. An admin may join in at anytime to review member's information and mediate the trade discussion.

CashorTrade is a place where real fans come together to pass on their experiences at no extra cost. While the site is free to use, we do offer a Gold Membership for $2/month that offers added conveniences and verification badges. Gold members can set notifications to new posts for specific tour dates and view posts as soon as they go live on the site, giving them first dibs on tickets. They can also renew their posts with the click of a button, bumping it back to the top of the list for greater visibility.

Taraleigh: Gold membership is the way to go! How have you turned your company into a community?

Brando: We started CashorTrade when Dusty and I got shut out of Phish's return to Hampton Coliseum. Tickets were going online for thousands of dollars, so we built the first version of the site and went on tour. We set up a CashorTrade trading tent in the parking lot of every show that summer. We had a large banner and a bulletin board where people could post tickets they had for sale or trade (we joke about it being our low tech version). We have continued to set up like this at many festival and shows over the years, like the entire Dead and Company tour this past summer. Next up we’re heading to Suwannee, Florida for String Cheese Incident's sold-out Hulaween festival.

Mostly though, this is an underground community of real fans free from scalpers and brokers. The concept is to pass the experience on to other fans who will equally value it, and our members do an AMAZING job at sharing the love. As CashorTrade has a social networking component to it. Many of fans have met up, traded tickets, and even grabbed a beer pre-show or during set break.

We rely heavily on social media to create a sense of community, and we try to interact directly with users as much as possible through it… we even hired our publicist after she direct messaged us on Twitter! I admin somewhere around 100 Facebook groups and Twitter accounts, including specific CashorTrade groups we built for every state in the nation. Our program auto-posts tickets from the CashorTrade website directly to these state groups, helping members make local connections, many of which turn into friendships.

Taraleigh: I’ve always loved finding your booth at shows. It became a hangout and meet-up spot for me and my friends. It’s really cool how that community aspect of what you do translated to the web. What is your proudest moment with CashorTrade?

Brando: We put so much time and effort into the project. So many members, so many trades-- Lots of blood sweat and tears over the years. This summer we really saw it pay off during Phish’s Baker’s Dozen. We processed more than 25% of all the seats available at Madison Square Garden throughout the 13-night run. The last weekend of the run we were able to score tickets in the Madison Club section behind the stage. We sat there looking out as fans danced their hardest with huge smiles from ear to ear. It was quite a feeling to know that we had a part in them being there, in that seat, for that night… possibly the best feeling yet!

Recently a guy and his wife came running up to me at a show and gave me a huge hug and thanked me for the system. They went on to explain how they first met through CashorTrade. They became friends after meeting up to trade tickets, continued going to shows together and later got married. They were celebrating their first year anniversary! Those are the moments when it is all worth it.

Taraleigh: I wonder how many babies were made because of a connection made because of CashorTrade. Another reason CashorTrade is so amazing is that my friend Andrea scored floor seats (the golden tickets) for us for two of the Baker’s Dozen run on your site the day of the shows. One of the unique aspects of the site is the option to trade. What kind of trades are members making?

Brando: We’ve seen everything from swapping tickets for shows, for merchandise, art, beer, hotel rooms, house shares and vacation spots. We do love to see creative trades. Sometimes members may not have cash to buy outright, but chances are they might have something of value they can use, like a rare print from a previous show. Mostly though, the trading component allows fans to trade ticket for ticket and/or the cash difference to maintain it as a fair trade at face value.

Taraleigh: Thank you for creating something that in its own way is making the world a better place. I’m so grateful and am looking forward to witnessing your growth.

The magic in me sees the magic in you,

Taraleigh Weathers (If you love live music and raging the sweet life, check THIS out)

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