System set to shut down widespread ticket profiteering

Attempting to head scalpers off at the pass, Ticketmaster sold more than 1 million paperless tickets in 2009, the company said Tuesday.

The ticketing giant has increasingly been employing paperless methods — in which consumers pre-buy seats and gain admission to venues with their credit cards and IDs — for concert and sporting events in order to shut down widespread ticket profiteering.

On the music side, Miley Cyrus’ ’09 tour was the No. 1 paperless trek. The teen pop singer instituted 100% ticketless sales for her most recent jaunt after major broker sales of ducats for her 2007 concert appearances sparked near-hysterical demand and vastly inflated prices.

AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Tom Waits and Nine Inch Nails rounded out the list of the top five paperless tours of the year. The biggest single paperless event was Metallica’s Sept. 15 show at the O2 Arena in London, for which 18,000 tickets were shifted. Some venues, like Little Rock’s Verizon Arena, have permanently integrated paperless technology.

Ticketmaster’s strategy was no doubt spurred in some measure by a furor generated by sales for a pair of May concerts by Springsteen at the Izod Center in New Jersey. A technical glitch placed thousands of coveted seats at the firm’s subsidiary resale site TicketsNow.

Following a public display of wrath by the Boss himself and loud consumer complaints, a $350,000 fine was levied against Ticketmaster by the state of New Jersey, and the Federal Trade Commission investigated the incident.

Ticketmaster has touted paperless ticketing as the best way to thwart such fiascoes.

Brokers like online marketplace StubHub have predictably assailed the methodology as anti-competitive.

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