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SECONDARY TICKETING: WEATHERLEY LEADS WESTMINSTER DEBATE
As previously reported, the 'Dispatches' documentary focused in particular on the operations of Viagogo and Seatwave, and accused key players in the secondary market of buying up large numbers of tickets themselves, to sell at a mark up via their own websites, making them major ticket touts rather than just the providers of an online marketplace where fans can sell unwanted tickets to other fans. The programme also focused on how some gig promoters were now putting a portion of their own tickets straight onto the secondary market and benefiting from any mark up.
Of course none of this is illegal, and the secondary sites argue they offer consumers convenience and a guarantee that there really is a ticket (versus buying direct from touts via their own sites). Meanwhile the promoters who resell their own tickets via Viagogo et al argue that they simply view such sites as premium ticketing platforms for those who buy their tickets late in the day, adding that they only opted to use the secondary markets at all after government failed to regulate the boom in touting enabled by the internet, and that surely fans would prefer any mark up go to the artist and their business associates rather than a shady tout.
But none of that stopped a barrage of online outrage during and immediately after the programme, directed at the secondary sites, the promoters who work with them, and in some cases the artists who were also seemingly benefiting. Some accused the resale sites and promoters of dishonesty, because of the common pretence that it's a third party selling the tickets, while others said that, by conspiring, the secondary sites and their promoter partners were making the touting problem ten times worse, so that for in-demand events it's increasingly hard for genuine fans to get tickets via the primary platforms, forcing them to buy from a resale site at a considerable mark up.
The political community in the UK has debated the boom in secondary ticketing before, with the previous Labour government calling on the live sector to act, and threatening new ticket touting laws if it failed to do so. But when the live sector said there was nothing it could do and that it'd welcome new regulation, the government backtracked and left the secondary market to grow unhindered. It was at this point some in the live and management communities adopted a 'if you can't beat them join them' policy and started selling their own tickets via resale sites at a mark up. Labour MP Sharon Hodgson has kept the issue on the agenda on the peripheries at parliament, but no serious action has been considered for sometime.
Weatherley hopes to capitalise on the 'Dispatches' programme via his Westminster Hall debate today, and to persuade government to review the ticket resale space, noting that tough rules have been introduced to govern the touting of Olympics tickets, and that perhaps there are lessons in that which could be applied to other areas of the ticketing market. Weatherley doesn't actually mind if artists and their business partners decide to sell tickets via auction sites (though would presumably prefer it if that was done more transparently), but argues that artists and promoters should have more power to control the resale of their tickets by others for profit.
In his speech, Weatherley will state his support for the free market in principle, but will argue that the touting of tickets for an in-demand event is a special case, because there is high demand for a finite product, which may have been priced below what the market could actually deliver for the benefit of an artist's fans. He'll add: "In the case of 'exceptional excess demand' for a 'finite product' the free market model falls down due to a restriction in the supply. And the ticket touts that take advantage of this market imperfection do nothing to add to our creative industries in terms of revenue and profits to those putting on the shows".
Interestingly, those promoters accused of rampantly reselling their own tickets by 'Dispatches' have in the main refused to engage with their critics directly - issuing a statement via their trade body instead - and that's a PR strategy that may have worked given the scandal has quickly died down. Fans will continue to buy tickets for their favourite artists' shows oblivious of the tactics of any business partners of course, so providing the self-touting promoters can still secure talent (and as it's assumed a lot of that talent was complicit in the self-touting anyway, they probably can) public anger on this issue probably isn't that relevant anyway. And should government finally decide to regulate, said promoters claim they'd gladly stop reselling their own tickets if the touts were likewise restricted.
SECONDARY TICKETING: ARE PAPERLESS TICKETS THE ANSWER?
Way back when secondary ticketing was first being debated by political types in the UK some commentators wondered if technology couldn't limit the growth in touting, in that if tickets were linked to a buyer's mobile phone or credit card then they would be harder to transfer.
Such electronic or paperless ticketing has taken longer to take off than many expected, but live music giant Live Nation is now talking it up as the big solution to the touting problem, noting that its use on the current Springsteen tour has seen the number of tickets on the secondary market for his shows drop significantly.
It's somewhat ironic that Live Nation is using Springsteen as a case study for its ambitions in the paperless ticketing space, given the Boss's aforementioned contribution to the online scalping debate was anger aimed mainly at TicketsNow, the ticket resale website operated by Live Nation's Ticketmaster.
Interestingly Ticketmaster's UK-based resale service Get Me In has generally avoided exposure in the recent bout of secondary ticketing anger over here, mainly by not featuring in the 'Dispatches' programme.
Of course Ticketmaster US has been busy trying to reassure critics of its resale site (especially politicians and artists) that it is acting responsibility and transparently, especially with regards where its primary ticketing business crosses into its resale ventures, and Live Nation's advocacy of paperless ticketing to combat the touts may be part of that PR exercise.
Though the paperless ticketing route is not without its critics either. Some point out that if tickets are tied to the credit card or mobile phone that made the booking, it makes it difficult for people to buy tickets for friends, family members, employees or business partners. Others also note that Ticketmaster has its own resale platform for paperless tickets (albeit with a limit on mark up), and argue that Live Nation's passion for electronic ticketing isn't to combat online touting, but to take ownership of that market off competitors like eBay-owned StubHub (who can't assist in the transfer of paperless tickets).
Indeed so strong are the reservations regards paperless ticketing in some circles that New York State has passed laws limiting its use, and forcing promoters to give consumers the option to choose between physical and paperless tickets, and similar measures are now being discussed in Congress. So perhaps electronic ticketing - while possibly being cheaper, greener and more convenient for many - won't be the anti-touting solution some have suggested it will be in the past.
JOSH HOMME SUES FORMER BANDMATES
Kyuss reformed in 2010 on the back of a solo tour by the outfit's frontman John Garcia where he performed mainly songs from his former band. The reunion included Garcia and other former Kyuss members Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri, and subsequently Scott Reeder, but because of the omission of Homme they opted to use the alternative name Kyuss Lives!
Nevertheless, it seems Homme has some issues with the new outfit's use of the Kyuss name and has been trying to negotiate some sort of agreement, but those negotiations have now faltered, leading to a stand off between Homme and Reeder on one side and Garcia and Bjork on the other (Oliveri being occupied with other legal matters, like the possible fifteen years in jail he'll get after a two hour armed stand off with police last summer).
Confirming they are suing their former bandmates, Homme and Reeder have written: "With open arms, we made every attempt to help them continue Kyuss Lives! respectfully, only to discover while they looked us in the eye, Kyuss Lives' management and band had filed federal documents in 2011 in an attempt to steal the name Kyuss ... It's a sad day for us and for John - but most of all for the fans".
Homme and Reeder are suing on the grounds of trademark infringement and consumer fraud. Garcia and Bjork are yet to respond.
PLAN B DEFENDS NEW VIDEO, CALLS FOR MORE DISCUSSION OF RIOTS
In a statement issued via his website yesterday, Plan B called the video "satire" and said: "The world, and this country especially, is full of contradictions. I'm just highlighting them, I'm not condoning anything. I aired my feelings about the riots very publicly when they happened and I still feel the same way".
Saying that he feels the subject of the riots "has been swept under the carpet and forgotten about", he added: "The point being made in my song 'ill Manors' is that society needs to take some responsibility for the cause of these riots. Why are there so many kids in this country that don't feel they have a future, or care about having a criminal record?"
Providing his own theory on this, he continued: "I think one of the reasons is that there is a very public prejudice in this country towards the underclass. These kids are ridiculed in the press as they aren't as educated as others, because they talk and dress in a certain way... but they're not as stupid as people think ... These kids have been beaten into apathy. They don't care about society because society has made it very clear that it doesn't care about them".
WELLER STREAMS NEW ALBUM EVERYWHERE
Commenting on the stream while plugging his five night residency at London's Roundhouse next week, Weller told reporters: "I'm not an expert on the digital world but know it's how most people hear their music and I'm proud of this album so want as many people to hear it as possible. I'm also playing it in full at the Roundhouse for five nights so the fans can hear it in its full running order live".
Listen to the album here: www.thecmuwebsite.com/article/weller-streaming-new-album-everywhere
PANTERA CONFIRM DELUXE REISSUE
Inclusive of the original long player plus a DVD comprising music videos and a six-track live set filmed back in 1991, the reissued album also features 'Piss', a vintage Pantera track that's hitherto languished in the band's lost demos vault.
Rhino will release said CD/DVD combi on 14 May.
ALT-J ANNOUNCE ALBUM
Assess Ghostpoet's 'Gang Panang Adlit' rework of the band's 'Matilda' just here: soundcloud.com/alt-j/matilda-ghostpoet-gang-panang
Then enjoy the tracklisting of the new LP here:
ANDREW BIRD TO VISIT ROUNDHOUSE
It's at London's Roundhouse on 8 Nov, and will follow appearances at London's Field Day and Sherwood Forest's No Direction Home festivals, as well as a three-date summer tour that begins at Bristol-based Trinity on 6 Jun.
DAPPY DETAILS LIVE EXCURSION
Dappy devotees had best set aside the best part of April, since the dates to save are:
15 Sep: Norwich, UEA
SIMIAN GHOST TO TOUR
With the video for album standout 'Wolf Girl' free to screen below, the band's complete live calendar is as listed:
10 Apr: London, Surya
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BERLIN FESTIVAL, Tempelhof Airport, Berlin, Germany, 7-8 Sep: Sigur Rós, Franz Ferdinand, Friendly Fires, First Aid Kit, Metronomy, Major Lazer, Modeselektor, TEED, Little Dragon and SBTRKT make for a fine initial array of acts occupying the Berlin Festival programme, with a crowd of extra residents set to move in shortly. www.berlinfestival.de
BLOC WEEKEND, London Pleasure Gardens, Royal Victoria Docks, 6-7 Jul: Fresh additions Snoop Dogg, Richie Hawtin, Steve Reich, Hype Williams and Kode 9 align with the headlining likes of Orbital on BLOC's existing bill, also joining Nicolas Jaar, Flying Lotus, Gary Numan, Squarepusher, Battles, Apparat, Doom, Four Tet and Actress on a still unfinished overall line-up. www.blocweekend.com
CAMDEN CRAWL, various venues, Camden, London, 4-6 May: Glasvegas, The Futureheads, Gaz Coombes and The Raincoats are amongst the latest acts to join this year's Camden Crawl. Also on the rapidly expanding bill are Death In Vegas, Three Trapped Tigers, The Big Pink, Team Me, Kids In Glass Houses, Iceage, Niki And The Dove, Kwes, Keep Shelly In Athens and many many more. www.thecamdencrawl.com
HIGH DEFINITION FESTIVAL, Forest Farm, Essex, 30 Jun: Recently announced headliners Fedde Le Grand and Mark Knight shoot to the top of a High Def line-up that also features a DJ set from roster supremos Pendulum, plus Ms Dynamite, Sub Focus, Mistajam and Fabio. A further horde of dance types including Redlight, Maceo Plex, D Ramirez and Friction will also appear across multiple stages and arenas. www.highdefinitionfestival.co.uk
READING/LEEDS, 24-26 Aug: In no particular order, the Reading/Leeds dudes have confirmed all the following to play - The Cure, Paramore, Bombay Bicycle Club, You Me At Six, Crystal Castles, Angels And Airwaves, Kasabian, Florence And The Machine, The Vaccines, Enter Shikari, The Shins, Odd Future, Mystery Jets, Blood Red Shoes, Coheed And Cambria, Cancer Bats, Deaf Havana, The Maccabees, Foster The People, The Courteeners, At The Drive-In, The Cribs, Billy Talent, Miike Snow, Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Kaiser Chiefs, Bullet For My Valentine, All Time Low, The Gaslight Anthem, Eagles Of Death Metal, Band Of Skulls, Pulled Apart By Horses, Justice, Two Door Cinema Club, The Horrors and SBTRKT. www.readingfestival.com/www.leedsfestival.com
WILDERNESS FESTIVAL, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, 10-12 Aug: Soul sensations Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, indie outfit Crystal Fighters, and young Nottingham troubadour Jake Bugg make up the latest additions to this year's rather well-populated Wilderness bill, as also houses Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Wilco, Spiritualized, Lianne La Havas, Cloud Control, Field Music and Milagres. www.wildernessfestival.com
CMU TRAINING TEAM SHARE PHOTO TIPS
As previously reported, the team behind CMU's acclaimed training courses are now posting regular tip pieces on the CMU site which, over time, will build to create a great library of information and advice for DIY artists, music entrepreneurs, and those working across the industry. The tips are pulled from the CMU Training courses, full-day seminars offering insights, explanations and practical advice on different parts of the music industry. This week's tips come from the course 'Promoting Music - Media, Social Media & More' and focus on the all important band photo.
Says CMU Publisher Chris Cooke: "New bands often ask me what their priorities should be once they have a little bit of money to spend, and I think getting some good band photos is high on the agenda. You don't need to go overboard, but a picture tells a thousand stories, and in the social media age - especially with the current rise of Tumblr and Pinterest - pictures are more important than ever. But before you all look into the camera and say 'cheese', do check out our tips for band photos, which come from a media point of view, ie what magazines and websites are looking for".
You can access the tips via www.thecmuwebsite.com/training/
The next edition of the CMU course 'Promoting Music - Media, Social Media & More' takes place on 28 Mar in Shoreditch, East London, and places are just £95 plus VAT. There are also a couple of places available on this week's course, 'Revenue, Investment & Deals In The New Music Business'.
BMG APPOINTS NEW GM FOR SCANDINAVIA
Confirming his appointment, Sanqvist told CMU: "Scandinavian writers and artists are hungry for an alternative route to the world market while international writers deserve better representation in Scandinavia. BMG has the resources and the infrastructure to fill both of those gaps in the market and to become a creative flagship across the region".
GAME ON THE BRINK
Video games seller Game has admitted it's desperately trying to find a buyer amidst slumping sales, and with a big rent bill looming later this month. So much so, some now expect the company to soon go into administration. Already the firm's woes are being added to by key publishers denying it certain big new releases, them fearing product could get caught up in the company's possible collapse.
Some speculated that US-owned rival GameStop might move to acquire the UK-based Game, but others are saying that is now unlikely, or if it does that it'll likely wait to buy the firm out of administration on more favourable terms.
The publicly listed Game continues to talk to its suppliers and money lenders - led by the state-controlled Royal Bank Of Scotland (which seems to be propping up the entire high street at the moment, including HMV) - but the company's board told investors yesterday: "It is uncertain whether any of the solutions currently being explored by the board will be successful or will result in any value being attributed to the shares of the company".
As with music and movies, specialist gaming retailers on the high street have been facing stiff competition from the supermarkets, online mail order sites and digital distributors, and while the slump in high street sales took a little longer to fully occur than with CDs, the last eighteen months have been especially tricky. HMV too has admitted its gaming sales have been particularly disappointing of late.
It's interesting that, while the record companies and DVD distributors have rallied around HMV, the games publishers seem to be less interested in ensuring the survival of their high street presence, and indeed they were the one group of suppliers not telling the world how much they loved His Masters Voice as they were renegotiating loan terms with their bankers last year. And the same publishers don't seem that keen to help Game now either. Presumably they have traditionally been less reliant on the casual consumer who inadvertently buys a release while killing time in a high street store.
SPOTIFY GOES LIVE IN GERMANY
Indeed at the Reeperbahn music conference in 2010, GEMA rep Alexander Wolf was pretty blunt when talking about the streaming service, saying he couldn't see it ever being licensed in Germany without a change in its business model. Since then, of course, Spotify has altered its priorities somewhat to put more emphasis on paid subscriptions, with its free-to-use ad-funded platform more of an upsell tool than standalone service.
Plus there have been rumours that the major music companies - which have equity in Spotify via their labels, and through their music publishing companies are also stakeholders in GEMA - have been putting pressure on the royalty body to change its stance. And, indeed, the royalties body has licensed various Spotify competitors since 2010.
Spotify reps confirmed their imminent arrival in Germany yesterday morning, and the service went live in the country at midnight. Confirming their German launch, Spotify's Jeff Levick told the BBC: "It's the third largest music market in the world and is a very important. We take it very seriously and wanted to make sure that when we did launch in Germany it was at the right time with the right product".
Meanwhile Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told CMU this morning that he's "unbelievably excited" about the German launch. So that's nice.
Elsewhere in Spotify news, and in a slightly amusing turn of events, EMI has apologised for accidentally uploading albums from metal indie Century Media onto the streaming platform, despite Century pulling all its content from the service last summer declaring that "in its present shape and form Spotify is not the way forward".
EMI handles Century's distribution and uploaded the albums to Spotify by mistake. When metal blog Metal Sucks noticed, the major told them: "We accidentally delivered a number of albums by Century artists to Spotify. Which is where you saw them. As soon as we realised our mistake, we immediately notified Spotify, and the titles were removed from the system. We're obviously embarrassed that this happened, and we've taken steps to make sure it can't happen again. And we're very sorry to Century and its artists for the trouble we've caused".
HOMELESS HOTSPOTS DIVIDE OPINION IN AUSTIN
The techie innovations division of ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty has used the Texas music and technology convention - with its masses of wi-fi hungry tech-heads - to pilot the idea of giving homeless people mobile internet connections, and then letting them charge people two dollars for fifteen minutes of connectivity. With parallels to Big Issue type projects, supporters say it helps the homeless make a legitimate income, and encourages people to engage with those living on the streets, rather than just walking on by.
But others have hit out at the project - which isn't officially affiliated with SxSW - accusing the ad firm of turning the homeless of Austin into a cheap gimmick. BBH Labs took to its website to defend the project, and insisted it had focused attention on the issue of homelessness in Austin during the big SxSW festivities, while providing those down on their luck with some extra income. It then invited people to leave comments on the project on its site.
Opinion was divided, though early supporters seemed to get drowned out by detractors. According to the BBC, one wrote that "my homeless hotspot keeps wandering out of range" before adding: "By literally labelling the person as a 'hotspot', you are priming an affluent, iPad-toting public to think of that person as a commodity".
Asked by the Beeb for comment, Big Issue co-founder John Bird said he was so far undecided, musing: "If all BBH are doing is turning these people into an aerial and asking them to stand still then they are just treating homeless people the same way the Victorians did when they asked them to hold posters. But if BBH is honest about the idea that this could ultimately lead to them becoming content creators providing material to a platform, then that's different - but the jury is still out".
Meanwhile Buzzfeed quoted one of the homeless people acting as a hotspot during SxSW, who said: "I would say that these people are trying to help the homeless and increase awareness... [and] we get to talk to people, [and] maybe give them a different perception of what homelessness is like".
Of course those buzzy buzzy "you gotta see these guys, Sony are interested" new bands playing South By this week probably should do everything they can to support the city's homeless. Give it two years and it might be them living on the streets of Austin, perhaps busking with their wi-fi enabled guitar.