A plethora of festival promoters, booking agents, artist management agencies and other music companies have all put their names today to a declaration by the Association Of Independent Festivals against the secondary ticketing market, ie the resale of tickets for profit, generally online, utilising auction sites like eBay or specific ticket resale websites like Viagogo and Seatwave.
The growth of online ticket touting has meant that, for in-demand events, a large number of tickets are often snapped up by touts early on, meaning genuine fans who don’t get to the ticket shop early (or, in some cases, who just don’t click refresh quick enough on their browser) have to buy tickets via touting sites at a considerable mark up.
The growth of the secondary ticketing market has, of course, been controversial for years, with various legislative and industry initiatives proposed along the way to try and tackle the perceived problem. Though, as a Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ programme on the issue revealed earlier this year, some in the live sector have adopted an ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ approach, selling tickets to their own shows via sites like Viagogo and Seatwave, often anonymously, so they rather than third party touts benefit from any mark-ups.
The issue of secondary ticketing has actually been bigger news in the US than the UK in recent years, until, that is, the aforementioned ‘Dispatches’ programme, which gave a new boost to those who oppose touting over here. The day after the documentary went out, AIF used the renewed focus on the issue to re-promote its backing of a service called the Ticket Trust, which provides a platform where fans who legitimately buy tickets for personal use but who can’t then, for some reason, attend, can resell their tickets at more or less face value (a 10% mark-up is allowed).
AIF’s new secondary ticketing charter, published today, seemingly wants to embarrass touts into refraining from flogging tickets to events promoted by those companies backing the declaration, or involving any of the artists whose business partners are represented, by telling the public that these organisations and acts do not endorse the secondary market. It also hopes to persuade fans to not create the demand for online touting by avoiding buying tickets from resale sites, even if that means missing out on a concert or festival.
Amongst those signing the charter are the Association Of Independent Festivals and Association Of Festival Organisers, plus booking agents 13 Artists, Coda Agency, Dawson Breed Music, Value Added Talent and XRay Touring; labels Hospital Records and Ninja Tune; artist management firms Chambers Management, JCF Management and Wildlife Entertainment; festivals Bearded Theory, Beat-Herder Festival, Belladrum Tartan Heart, Bestival, Bingley Music Live, Cornbury Festival, Camp Bestival, Deer Shed Festival, Eden Sessions, End Of The Road Festival, Evolution Festival, Field Day, Folk On The Water, Glade, Glasgowbury, Glastonbudget, Greenbelt Festival, Green Man, In The Woods Festival, Kendal Calling, Leefest, London Summer Jam, The Magic Loungeabout, Meltdown Festival, Nozstock: The Hidden Valley Festival, No Direction Home, Outside:Inside, Secret Garden Party, Shambala Festival, Summer Sundae Weekender, Stockton Weekender, SWN Festival, The London Green Fair, The Applecart, Tramlines, Truck, Underage, WOMAD and Y-Not Festival; and artists Portishead, Gotye and Radiohead.
Explaining his opposition to secondary ticketing, Bestival chief and AIF co-founder Rob da Bank told CMU: “The whole secondary ticketing situation does make me really angry, mostly because I just don’t feel many of the people paying vastly inflated prices actually understand the mechanics behind it, and secondly because the people profiting are doing so driven by pure greed. For me music has never been about money and there’s a sharp divide between those in the music business purely for profit and those who are in it for the love of music. The festivals who say they’ve sold out while blatantly putting hundreds or thousands of tickets on a secondary seller are just plain dishonest”.
Meanwhile Dan Silver of Value Added Talent, who represents the likes of Orbital and Alabama 3 in the live space, said: “As representatives of the artists and acting as their officially appointed ambassadors to their fans, VAT will continue to resist strongly the efforts by unconnected third parties to profit from ticket sales as middlemen, and will always seek to sell to fans at the lowest possible transaction charges – which we would like to stress are not shared in any way with the creators of value, the artists themselves”.
Whether an albeit strongly worded statement from a consortium of artists, festivals and music business players as credible of this will really make any impact on the secondary ticketing phenomenon remains to be seen. Wherever fans are desperate to get into in-demand shows, and are able and willing to pay over the odds to do so, there will presumably be touts willing to provide that service.
As previously reported, the most recent proposals to regulate secondary ticketing have come from Sharon Hodgson MP, who has proposed a 10% cap on mark ups, though such proposals are not currently high up the government agenda.
Others, including former Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt, have suggested that new ticketing technology that more closely links a ticket to its buyer could be a better solution, though in an opinion piece earlier this summer Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn said that approach wasn’t desirable, and Radiohead were recently criticised for a paperless ticketing solution that meant that legitimate fans now unable to attend a show couldn’t sell them on, or even given them away. The Radiohead approach, where only the credit card holder could pick up tickets, and only on the day of the gig, also makes it hard to gift tickets.
Anyway, here is the AIF Fair Ticketing Charter in full…
- We the undersigned believe that the growth of ticket-touting online – so-called ‘secondary ticketing’ – is bad for fans and bad for live entertainment.
- Ticket touting means real fans are deprived of the opportunity to attend events and see artists they love while speculators cash in.
- We believe there are strong arguments for legislation to curb the activities of unofficial ticket-sellers.
- Until such legislation is enacted we believe the entire live entertainment industry should further increase its efforts to protect fans.
- We affirm that we will be transparent with the pricing and distribution of tickets for events that we control.
- We restate our commitment to adopting ticketing processes and technologies which ensure tickets reach the hands of real fans rather than touts.
- We call on secondary ticket sellers to cease and desist selling tickets for events we control.
- We call on consumers to boycott ticket touts.
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