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VIAGOGO FAILS TO STOP CHANNEL 4'S SECONDARY TICKETING EXPOSE FROM AIRING TONIGHT
The rise of ticket touting online, initially via general auction sites like eBay, and then through bespoke ticket resale services like Viagogo and Seatwave, has been criticised before, of course, by punters, politicians and some key players in the music community, including managers and promoters.
A few years back, the then Labour government called on the live sector to act to stop consumers being ripped off by the growth in touting, threatening to introduce new laws if it failed to do so. Though when some key promoters said there was nothing they could do about it and that they'd welcome new legislation to combat the touts, ministers went quiet on the issue.
The secondary ticketing service providers would argue that there is nothing wrong with fans reselling tickets to in-demand events for profit, even if they bought the tickets specifically to resell, and that doing all that via an independent website that offers guarantees to the end-consumer is better than having touts gathering outside venues selling tickets on the night, old school style, or taking money via websites where there is no assurance that tickets actually exist.
Some would like to see all touting banned outright (as it already is for tickets to football games), but others who oppose the likes of Viagogo and Seatwave would stress that their opposition isn't to grassroots fans making a few quid reselling a couple of tickets here and there, but to industrial scale touting, where companies buy up large numbers of tickets to in-demand events - either by utilising software that can make multiple bookings via primary ticket websites quickly, or by forming semi-secret alliances with gig promoters or artist managers - and in doing so make it hard for actual fans to get access to tickets from official sellers, so they are forced to pay hiked up prices via the resale services.
And it's that kind of industrial touting that Channel 4's documentary tonight will focus on. It will accuse some of the resale services of directly participating in such activities themselves, often in partnership with established promoters in the live sector. Said companies, the programme will allege, are ripping off the consumer by artificially hiking up prices while pretending it is fans selling tickets to other fans. And that latter point - ie the dishonesty - might contravene consumer legislation, an expert is expected to claim on the documentary.
In a trailer for the programme, Channel 4 includes a quote allegedly from a Viagogo employee, who says: "We have allocations, for example, for very big events - Rihanna, Westlife, Take That - we are getting allocations from the promoter, so we are allowed to sell them on our website, with our internal accounts, so on these ones, the seller is basically us. I mean it is really important that we never communicate to anyone that these accounts exist and that we do have tickets, because that is something internal that they are not supposed to know, and as far as we are concerned we are a ticket exchange and we don't own any tickets".
Key players in the resale sector went into damage limitation this week. Viagogo unsuccessfully tried to get an injunction to stop the 'Dispatches' programme airing on the grounds the secret filming was a 'breach of confidence'. Confirming that the High Court had declined such an injunction, Channel 4 said in a statement yesterday: "We are pleased that we can now broadcast in full a programme of important public interest. It is disappointing that having provided Viagogo with a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations uncovered by our investigation several weeks ago, they chose instead to seek an injunction which would have effectively stopped the broadcast of our programme".
Justifying his company's injunction bid, Viagogo's UK Director Edward Parkinson told CMU: "We sought an injunction to prevent customer information being made public. Our number one priority is to protect our customers' data, so we will always do whatever we can to prevent that information from falling into the wrong hands".
Seatwave, which also seemingly appears in the programme, went the PR route, sending an email to its customers condemning Channel 4's tactics and encouraging those who have happily bought tickets via the service to take to their social media accounts to communicate their happiness. In the email, the company's CEO Joe Cohen writes: "We know now that 'Dispatches' sent in an undercover reporter some months ago, to pose as an employee and surreptitiously film and record how we do business 'behind the scenes'. As we've been told to expect by the programme producers, there will probably be a selection of Seatwave employees appearing on-screen and speaking - unfairly, and likely out of context, in my view - about the company".
The email continues: "For the record: Seatwave has done nothing wrong, and in no way do we accept that surreptitious filming was justified in the development of this programme ... From the outset, we set up guarantees to ensure that fans would get the tickets they paid for (TicketIntegrity), and wouldn't be out of pocket if an event they'd bought tickets for was cancelled (TicketCover). With guarantees like these, we have consistently led the ticketing market towards more customer-friendly practices. Transparency and security were, and still are, our top priorities".
Viagogo said something similar in its response to Channel 4's investigation, explaining: "Viagogo exists to provide a safe, secure marketplace for the buying and selling of live event tickets. Viagogo is an open marketplace, and while the majority of sellers are individuals we do not disallow larger sellers, including event organisers, from selling on our platform. Above all we provide a guarantee that buyers will get the tickets they have paid for which has helped dramatically reduce ticket fraud and scams in the UK".
It remains to be seen what impact Channel 4's exposé has on the UK ticket resale market, if nothing else it will presumably offer a boost to those consumer rights groups and MPs who have been grumbling about the secondary market for some time. Within the live industry it might also reignite a debate that has been off the agenda for a couple of years now, since many promoters went the 'if you can't beat then join them' route and started selling an allocation of tickets to their own events via resale sites, taking a cut of any mark up.
Those promoters will likely argue it is better for artists and their associates than the shady touts to profit from marked-up resold tickets, though if the Dispatches show paints the sector in too bad a light some artists might seek to distance themselves from the practice, giving those in the industry who have been critical of Viagogo, Seatwave et al throughout the upper hand.
'The Great Ticket Scandal' airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4, with the broadcaster hoping to spark debate on Twitter using the hashtag #TicketScandal.
EU ASKS ECJ TO REVIEW ACTA
As previously reported, opposition to the agreement has grown in recent weeks, despite it being years in the making, and having been signed by most European countries last month, as well as by the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea last October. That increasingly vocal opposition is making some of those European nations yet to actually sign up, and some who already have, call for further revisions to be made to the agreement. It may also mean that the European Parliament will vote against the treaty when it is discussed there in June.
Opponents to ACTA will likely see the EC's decision to refer the agreement to the ECJ as vindication of their concerns. Though supporters of the treaty will also likely welcome the move, as EU commissioners actually expect the court to approve the agreement, and hope that judicial approval will help counter some of the more gloomy accusations made against ACTA with regards its affects on the general public's internet rights.
According to The Guardian, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said he hoped an ECJ ruling on ACTA would clear the "fog of misinformation" around the treaty, adding: "This debate must be based upon facts and not upon the misinformation or rumour that has dominated social media sites and blogs in recent weeks. ACTA will not censor websites or shut them down; ACTA will not hinder freedom of the internet or freedom of speech".
As previously reported, ACTA obliges those countries who sign it to bring their copyright and other intellectual property right systems into line with certain criteria. Supporters in Europe insist copyright systems within the EU already adhere to the agreement, so the impact will be minimal, but opponents fear the treaty will enable governments to force through unpopular anti-piracy measures, claiming they have to in order to satisfy international obligations.
WARNER OWNER STILL HOPES TO BUY EMI ASSETS AS A RESULT OF REGULATORY INVESTIGATIONS
The mini-major is joining with the independent sector, of course, in calling on US and European regulators to block Universal's planned acquisition of the EMI labels, Universal having outbid Warner owner Access Industries in the race to buy the British music firm last year.
Bloomberg cites three sources as saying that Access, owned by billionaire businessman Len Blavatnik, is watching the regulator investigations into the Universal/EMI deal closely, hopeful the takeover might be blocked outright, or at least Universal may be forced to sell off significant chunks of the EMI catalogue, or even front-line businesses, in order to win regulator approval.
Access, which last year said current EMI owner Citigroup was overpricing its music assets, would then swoop to try to buy any bits of the major back on the market, enabling it to boost its market share.
As previously reported, the New York Post says Universal has pledged to Citigroup to make up the difference if their $1.9 billion acquisition of EMI is blocked and the bank is forced to sell to another party for less money. If true, that would enable the bank to accept Blavatnik's lesser offer without affecting its bottom line.
Warner, of course, will be dwarfed by its two rivals, Universal and Sony, if their respective bids to buy EMI's recordings and publishing businesses go ahead, so its opposition to the two deals, and ambitions to nab any bits of EMI left after the regulatory process, aren't surprising, though it's interesting to see it confirmed.
Of course if Warner was to buy the EMI record company outright, it too would need regulator approval, but as a combined EMI/Warner (even if Warner had, as originally intended five years ago, bought the entirety of EMI) would still be smaller than Universal even before its EMI purchase, that deal would presumably get the green light much easier.
MEGA EXTRADITION HEARINGS NOT LIKELY UNTIL AUGUST
As previously reported, four of the seven men the US accuse of copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering for their involvement in the Mega empire were arrested in New Zealand last month. All four, including founder Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz, have now been bailed, pending extradition hearings.
New Zealand's Ministry Of Justice yesterday said 20 Aug had been pencilled in for a hearing on attempts to extradite Schmitz. No more information was provided, because "extradition requests are generally considered confidential diplomatic communications between state parties".
Some of the 21 conditions put on Schmitz when he was granted bail earlier this week have also been revealed. Like his former colleagues, he is not to access the internet while on bail, plus he's also banned from taking drugs (which presumably the law already dictates, unless that includes aspirin) and from having a helicopter on his property. As previously reported, prosecutors have expressed concerns Schmitz might try to flee New Zealand for his home country of Germany, where it would be much harder for the US to extradite him.
MURRAY SAYS COURTS SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED JACKSON'S STATE OF MIND
Jackson died, of course, as a result of an overdose of the anaesthetic propofol, which Murray was giving the singer as a cure for insomnia. Key to the doctor's defence was the theory that Jackson self-administered the fatal shot of the drug, either in a desperate bid to induce sleep, or maybe even to end his own life.
Although the defence presented one expert to discuss how self-administration of the drug might have occurred, the prosecution's witnesses said that theory was implausible and, anyway, even if Jackson had injected the fatal shot himself, the doctor would still have been negligent for allowing the medication to be within the patient's reach while he was on his own.
But, according to TMZ, Murray, who is planning to appeal both his conviction and four year jail sentence, is still sticking to the self-administration theory, and claims the court failed to consider that Jackson was in a mixed up state of mind in the weeks before he died, because of financial stresses and the pressures of the planned 'This Is It' London residency, and that that would have motivated a desperate act. None of which counters the 'it's negligent to leave drugs near your patient' charge, but whatever.
In court papers seen by TMZ, Team Murray reportedly claim: "Mr Jackson was in debt approximately $440 million and desperately needed to fulfil a contractual commitment at The O2 arena in London. He was on the verge of losing his entire estate to foreclosure. The pressure to fight through his insomnia, to rehearse and be the entertainer he was in his earlier years was overwhelming. His motivation and resulting desperation were relevant to show a likelihood or reason to act in a manner inconsistent with good judgment".
The LA courts will consider tomorrow Murray's application to serve his sentence under house arrest, rather than in jail, while he prepares his appeal. The prosecution in the case have issued a strong objection to that application.
WOMEN GUITARIST CHRIS REIMER 1986-2012
Women formed in 2007 in Calgary, releasing their eponymous debut album via Jagjaguwar the following year to widely positive reviews, with Reimer's distinct guitar sound often mentioned. The follow-up, 'Public Strain', was released in 2010, produced (as their debut was) by Chad VanGaalen, and received yet further acclaim, picking up a longlist nomination for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize.
The same year the band cancelled a tour after an on stage punch up between frontman Pat Flegel and his bassist brother Matthew. Initial reports said that the band had split up, mainly because Reimer announced that that performance would be their "last show as a band", but it was later stated that they simply needed a break from touring together. Their last release was a split single on Faux Discx with Fair Ohs, Cold Pumas and Friendo last year. More recently Reimer had become a touring member of Californian indie-rock band The Dodos.
In a statement, Jagjaguwar said: "We're shocked and saddened to hear about the passing of Women guitarist Chris Reimer. Chris' virtuosic playing is one of the many reasons we fell in love with this band in the first place. If you were lucky enough to ever see them play live, you know what we mean. Always calm and collected while shredding. So much fun to watch. All of that aside, Chris was an incredible friend. He was one of the warmest and funniest people we've been lucky to know and work with. As sad as this is, it's hard to not smile when thinking of him".
Meanwhile Women's manager, and founder of the band's Canadian record label Flemish Eye, Ian Russell said: "Although he has left a huge impact on many people through his contributions to music, Chris will be best remembered by those around him for his wonderful presence. Chris left an impression on people all over two continents as he toured with Women and later with The Dodos, and people will remember his easy laugh, his generous nature and his wicked sense of humour".
He continued: "Chris was also modest to a fault. Many people probably knew him without knowing that he had played some of the world's greatest music festivals, or appeared on Jimmy Fallon - they just knew him as Reimer, the understated guy in a shabby parka who was sharp as a tack and always had a quick rejoinder. It's impossible to overstate the impact that Chris's passing will have on his community, as he was greatly loved. The fact that he chose to stay in Calgary instead of moving to another music centre is a statement to his commitment to his friends and family, all of whom are in total shock about this utterly tragic and sudden loss".
A website in tribute to Reimer has been set up by his sister Nikki here: christopherjohnjosephreimer.com
NO NEW AT THE DRIVE-IN ALBUM, SAYS SPOILSPORT GUITARIST
Speaking to Kerrang about the reformation, he said: "Will there be an album? No, no, no. At The Drive-In is more of a nostalgia thing - it's songs we wrote when we were all in our 20s and we're doing a couple of shows".
He added: "It's an old t-shirt that doesn't fit me any more, but when you put it on again, it feels nice. It's as simple as that". Presumably that means old t-shirts tour, but don't make new music. Is that how it is, Omar? Hmph.
Anyway. At The Drive-In are set to cash-in at several high-profile festival bookings this year, which include their first ever European appearance at Benicassim. Good for them.
NINJA TUNE TO RELEASE AMON TOBIN BOXSET
Ninja Tune is yet to disclose exactly how limited this release really is, but any existing copies will be made available to coincide with Record Store Day on 15 Apr.
CROCODILES ANNOUNCE ALBUM
And here's an instantaneous preview in the form of 'Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)', which is due out 26 Mar on limited seven-inch vinyl.
LONE TO RELEASE LP
Here resides an audio preview of 'Crystal Caverns 1991', which will be released with B-side 'Vulcan Mill Acid' on 26 Mar: soundcloud.com/r-srecords/lone-crystal-caverns-1991
WILLY MASON TALKS NEW ALBUM, GIVES AWAY FREE TRACK
He says: "The album itself is about growing up and trying to find one's place. I think of this record as the third and final chapter to a particular narrative that started with 'Where the Humans Eat'".
Given the leisurely pace at which Mason seems to operate, it figures that 'the album' is yet to be given a title or release date. You can, however, stream new track 'Restless Fugitive' below right now, and even download it here for free.
Named as the opening act for Ben Howard's forthcoming UK tour, which runs throughout November, Willy has also confirmed a second date at London's Hoxton Bar & Kitchen on 27 Mar, the first having sold out.
MARK RONSON TO SCORE ROYAL BALLET PRODUCTION
Royal Ballet representatives state that the new show will "focus on the Jungian theme of anima/animus and the theory of collective masculine and feminine unconscious". Make of that what you will, but I predict brass accents and lots of the colour black.
Devised by Wayne MacGregor, the RB's resident choreographer since 2006, the production will feature nine songs composed by Ronson and Wyatt. It's set to premiere at the Royal Opera House in April.
LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA TO TREAT TRAFALGAR CROWDS TO OPEN AIR CLASSICS
Organised as part of a sponsorship deal with BMW, the first of the Open Air Classics recitals, which takes place on 13 May at 6.30pm, will be conducted by the LSO's Principal Conductor, Valery Gergiev. He'll lead the assembled musicians in, amongst other things, complete renditions of Igor Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring' and the 'Firebird Suite', with all proceedings also due to be broadcast on several giant screens.
Further details here: lso.co.uk/page/3650/BMW-LSO-Open-Air-Classics
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
ANTIFEST, The Forum, University Of Hertfordshire, 3 May: As curated by cult US punk outfit Anti-Flag, the first ever AntiFest will host across its compact roster bands including Bouncing Souls, The Skints and The Menzingers. www.anti-flag.com/antifest/
BOOMTOWN FAIR, Matterley Estate, Winchester, 9-12 Aug: Electro-swing supremos Caravan Palace, reggae-pop star Natty, and DJ duo Jack Beats are amongst those acts flocking to feature first on this year's Boomtown bill, which so far also includes Dirtyphonics, Shy FX, The Beat and Dub Pistols, amongst others. www.boomtownfair.co.uk
WAY OUT WEST, Gothenburg, Sweden, 9-11 Aug: Blur crown the triumph of their recent BRITs-based reformation with a topmost billing at Way Out West 2012, which will also encompass live sets by such previously announced artists as Black Keys, Feist, Bon Iver, Refused, Florence And The Machine and St Vincent. www.wayoutwest.se
GUILFEST, Stoke Park, Guilford, Surrey, 13-15 Jul: Joining Jimmy Cliff and previously announced headliner Olly Murs are acts topped by Jools Holland, who'll appear alongside his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra and special guests Roland Gift, Ruby Turner and Louise Marshall and ex-Squeeze bandmate Gilson Lavis at this familial weekend fest. www.guilfest.co.uk
SOUTH WEST FOUR, Clapham Common, London, 25-26 Aug: Organisers of this London-based dance bash add Carl Cox, Eric Morillo and John Digweed, all of whom join headliners Chase & Status on SW4's programme of events. www.southwestfour.com
SUMMER SUNDAE WEEKENDER, De Montford Hall And Gardens, Leicester, 17-19 Aug: Katy B, Public Image Limited, Tune-Yards, Willy Mason and Reverend And The Makers form part of an eclectic initial bookings list here, performing as they are with the fast-rising likes of French jangle-pop troupe Francois & The Atlas Mountains and Welsh band Y Niwl. www.summersundae.com
!K7 LAUNCH MANAGEMENT COMPANY
Confirming his company' move into the management space, !K7 boss Horst Weidenmueller told CMU: "!K7 offers credible and informed guidance to artists. The company's international structure, with offices in New York, London and Berlin, affords a deep understanding of global markets and enables !K7 to provide artist clients with a global infrastructure and support on an international level".
VEVO INSISTS IT'S IN THE RIGHT ON LICENSING DEALS
As previously reported, Matt Pincus of American indie publisher Songs Music Publishing recently said his company wasn't receiving royalties for many of the videos on VEVO that contain songs his company own. This occurs because in the US the video service licences all rights in the videos it carries from the record companies, who than have a contractual obligation to pay any publishing royalties that are due.
However, Pincus claims, the majors are then using a clause in their artist contracts that says that when videos are used for promotional purposes, if the featured artist also wrote the song, no publishing royalties need to be paid. That, Pincus reckons, is an abuse of a contractual clause meant for when music videos are used as marketing tools (as they once principally were), and not when they are being used as a direct revenue generator.
Although Pincus conceded that that alleged dodgy behaviour was the fault of the record companies, he asked whether VEVO had a duty to ensure that the companies it licenses content from were acting fairly with regards other affected rights owners. Plus, of course, VEVO's two biggest content providers are its parent companies, so some might argue it's a bit cheeky for bosses there to totally wash their hands of this problem.
But, in a comment to a story on DMN, in which OK Go manager Jamie Kitman said his band also weren't seeing any royalties from their EMI-released content that appears on VEVO, the video site's boss Rio Caraeff insists his company is behaving appropriately, and its for publishers and artists to take the record companies to task if they believe they are being unfairly treated.
Writes Rio: "We pay every single video licensor fairly (based upon all revenue, not just revenue generated from video watch pages like some other services do), on-time and on the same commercial terms no matter whether one is a major or independent label or distributor. What happens between an artist and their label or distributor in their contractual relationship is simply not something that we are party to, and every artist's deal is different".
He continues: "We fully respect music, artistry and our teams work incredibly hard to build audiences and generate revenue for artists, writers and rights owners from a user-behaviour (watching music videos) that was considered promotional by the industry for so many years. I am not willing to engage in a public debate here other than what I have already said (so please don't contact me for more quotes on this) but I felt like declaring the simple truth of how we operate as it seems like this place attracts many who easily disparage without knowing the facts".
As previously reported, the specific publishing royalty issue Pincus wrote about does not apply in the UK, where VEVO licenses publishing rights via collecting society PRS For Music rather than via the record labels.
CAPITAL RADIO PISSED OFF OVER LACK OF 1D THANKS
As Chris Moyles gloated on Twitter about his station getting the big ups when its main rival - now a quasi-national station of course - had gone to the effort of sponsoring the gong, word has it chiefs at Global were not impressed one bit. The fact One Direction beat Global-managed The Wanted to the BRIT prize probably didn't help.
The Guardian reports that the station quickly cancelled an on air guest slot planned for the boy band yesterday, while Radio Today cites sources as saying the 'X-Factor' group has been dropped from the Capital playlist. Which is a lot of toys out of the pram for someone to clean up.
Whether or not there is any truth in these rumours we don't know, though the fact 1D's people felt the need to quickly issue a statement on the matter yesterday suggests there was definitely some fuming going on over at Global HQ in Leicester Square.
The boy band's people would like it to be known that: "One Direction forgot to thank the Capital Radio listeners last night when picking up their BRIT Award for Best British Single. This was an oversight as the boys were caught up in the excitement of winning. The band would like take this opportunity to thank Capital Radio and all their listeners for their support and for voting for them".
KREAYSHAWN USES TOILET
"I have to POOP", she apparently announced after ushering the male element of her entourage out of the room. Though, quickly realising that not having also dispatched the interviewer could be a mistake, she added: "Are you going to write about how I pooped, ate nachos, then pooped again? Men won't like that".
Given that up to that point in the resulting GQ interview we didn't know about any previous toilet use, or the ingestion of corn-based snacks, it would appear that the answer was "yes". Sorry Kreayshawn. Sorry men.
She then revealed that she was "prairie doggin". What's that? I hear you ask. You are a fool for asking. Kreayshawn explained: "You know how a prairie dog kind of pops his head out and then pops it back in? That's what my shit is doing".
Interviewer Lauren Bans also notes that the rapper slid the toilet door "only halfway shut". More details as we get them. Read the full article GQ here: www.gq.com/entertainment/music/201203/kreayshawn-interview-profile-gq-march-2012-gucci-gucci