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UK government publishes its secondary ticketing review
The rise of online ticket touting has been controversial for years, of course, and there have been calls from within the music industry, and from consumer rights groups, for regulation of the secondary ticketing market at various points in the last decade or so.
Then MPs Sharon Hodgson and Mike Weatherley managed to sneak some light regulation into last year's Consumer Rights Act, which mainly forces ticket resellers to provide some key information about the tickets they are selling, such as face value, seat numbers and any restrictions.
In this new review, Professor Michael Waterson was asked to assess how those new rules have been implemented, and whether there was a case for greater regulation. His report also reviews the arguments on both sides of the secondary ticketing debate.
So that's the argument that a small number of industrial touts routinely hoover up tickets for in-demand shows and re-sell them at massive mark-ups even though doing so is against the terms and conditions of the tickets they are selling.
Which is bad for fans, especially where artists try to keep their prices low for the benefit of core fanbase. And it's bad for the industry, because consumers have finite funds, and if they have to spend more to go to premiere league shows, they may have no money left to spend on more grass roots events.
And then the argument that if someone buys a ticket, they should be allowed to re-sell it on the open market; that secondary sites provide an alternative for consumers who can't be bothered doing the eternal refresh thing as tickets first go on sale; and that having the reselling happening on legit secondary ticketing sites makes consumers less like to be the victims of fraud.
In his recommendations, Waterson does not go as far as some secondary ticketing critics would like, though he does propose a number of reforms. First of all, with regard to the Consumer Rights Act, he reaffirms what a number of commentators have said in recent months (and what Which? said earlier this week), which is that there is need for clarity.
In particular over whether or not the secondary ticketing sites - as well as the sellers - are obliged to ensure that the minimum required information about the ticket being sold is provided. Waterson is of the opinion that that obligation does extend to the resale sites as well as the sellers, even though the likes of Viagogo, Seatwave and StubHub are just intermediaries in the sale process.
Concluding that current regulations should be clarified before new legislation is considered, Waterson also seeks clarity on the penalties for violating the CRA rules, and also urges that someone - probably National Trading Standards - takes on responsibility for monitoring secondary ticketing sites, and enforcing the rules. Police should focus on actual ticket fraud, he reckoned, but someone needed to be ensuring the resale regulations were being adhered to as well.
Waterson also urges the secondary sites to distinguish between individuals and traders on their platforms, which is to say those people who resell the occasional ticket as opposed to those who tout on an industrial scale. The obligations of those identified as traders under consumer rights law will be higher, but it is currently hard to work out who they are. If the sites fail in this regard, the professor did say it might be worth considering a new law requiring those who resell more than a certain number of tickets per month to be licensed.
The report also talks about the 'bots' used by touts to hoover up so many tickets from primary sellers. There has been plenty of talk before about trying to ban these technologies - or have primary ticketing platforms do more to stop them from accessing tickets - and Waterson again calls on the primary sellers to do more in this regard. The bots are usually the one area where the secondary sites do agree with the anti-tout brigade, and in the past lobbyists for the resale platforms have tried to persuade law-makers to focus primarily on this point.
Interestingly, Waterson also has plenty of comments about the primary ticketing sector, and improvements that could be made by promoters and their ticketing partners which, in turn, could protect consumers. The professor concedes that discussing the primary ticketing market was not really part of his brief, but he reckons that it's impossible to address issues around touting without reviewing the way the live industry sells its tickets to begin with.
There has been a mixed reception to Waterson's report from the industry, with many welcoming his core findings, especially around needing more clarity regarding the CRA, and demanding action to identify the industrial touts and crack down on the bots. Though some are disappointed the report doesn't call for more legislation against touting in the short term, while some of those on the secondary ticketing side reckon too little time was given to considering issues they have raised.
What remains to be seen is how the government responds to the report, and whether ministers show a will to legislate in the future if the industry initiatives proposed by Waterson are not adopted; the threat of government intervention almost certainly being needed to motivate the secondary ticketing platforms to participate.
We discuss the report further - and wonder whether the current momentum on this topic in the UK can be maintained and expanded - in the latest edition of the CMU Podcast. Listen here.
UK government's secondary ticketing review: Everyone comments
"Professor Waterson exposes a dysfunctional and under-regulated ticketing market. His review calls on government to enforce the law, and for secondary ticketing sites to apply the law and show responsibility. Fans must have clarity and fairness.
Live music is one of the UK's cultural 'crown jewels'. According to government data, last year one in three British adults attended a gig, festival or live performance. Fans are the lifeblood of our business. As revealed by today's long awaited report from Professor Michael Waterson, UK audiences are confused by the ticket-buying process.
In the worst instances, they are being ripped off and sold short by industrial-scale online ticket touting. More than 40,000 fans have already signed a petition demanding that Parliament enforce the Consumer Rights Act amendment brought in last year, providing tougher sanctions for resale websites that break the law. They also demand that ticket resellers are forced to reveal their identities.
Professor Waterson has clearly recognised these long-term failings, and makes nine pragmatic recommendations that, if implemented, will help reform the market. We believe that fans should be given every opportunity to buy and exchange tickets at the price they were intended - not see them used as collateral to boost the profits of scalpers.
The music business has a significant role to play in driving change, and we are committed to work with partners to promote pro-consumer practices and technologies. However, we also reiterate Professor Waterson's call for government to act and for secondary ticketing services to follow the law.
Above all, we need a Consumer Rights Act that is fit for purpose, and to have the law on ticket resales enforced by Trading Standards. UK audiences deserve clarity and fairness, not a dysfunctional and under-regulated secondary ticketing market that causes untold harm to our world-beating creative and cultural sector".
Elsewhere, Sharon Hodgson MP, who has long campaigned on this issue, and played a key part in getting secondary ticketing into last year's Consumer Rights Act, commented: "It is welcome that we have seen some solid recommendations come out of the Waterson review today, which clearly is calling for fans to be put first within the market, and not be an afterthought. This is a step in the right direction in our cross-party campaign".
"For too long, fans have lacked consumer protections which would reduce the underhand actions of profiteering and fraudulence in the secondary market which sees fans ripped off, that is why it is welcome that Professor Waterson has called for the enforcement of the Consumer Rights Act - which we know has been continuously flouted since it was enacted last year - and for the onus to be on the secondary sites to ensure sellers comply with the transparency measures, instead of washing their hands of this responsibility".
"Now that Professor Waterson has presented his findings to the government and Parliament, it is time for the Business Secretary and Culture Secretary to ensure these actions are taken forward, and our group of cross-party Parliamentarians will be pushing the government to make good on these recommendations in the coming months and years".
Some of the ticketing sector also responded...
Jonathan Brown, Chief Executive of STAR, which represents primary ticketing agents in the UK, said: "The UK has a live entertainment sector which is the envy of the world. STAR welcomes and supports these efforts to safeguard the future of this hugely important industry".
Dave Newton, CEO of WeGotTickets said quite a bit more, remarking: "This report highlights the blatant disregard that prominent touting websites have had for legislation in this country, and while I welcome the report's assertion and a number of its recommendations, it gives no indication of what enforcement could be relied upon should they still refuse to fall in line with existing legislation. [Though] secondary ticketing is not the only practice ripping of consumers and a call for transparency in both the primary and secondary markets is a welcome measure".
"There have been too many under-the-counter deals going on in the primary market for years with promoters ripping off customers by inflating the ticket companies' booking fees to procure themselves a kickback. This practice has remained hidden from the customer and has been actively encouraged by a number of primary ticketing companies happy to take the reputation hit for the 'rip off booking fees' - a customer should know what they're paying for; it's as simple as that".
Richard Davies, founder of Twickets, which facilitates the reselling of tickets without the massive mark-ups, and who led on the recent parliamentary petition on this issue, said: "We're delighted to see that Professor Waterson's report addresses our recent parliamentary petition - already signed by nearly 42,000 people - calling for greater protection against touts in the UK. It is now vital that the government responds to ensure compliance with the Consumer Rights Act and that all relevant legislation is enforced. It must also be prepared to step in once more if self-governance measures fail".
"Ideally, we would like to have seen the report go further to protect fans. It acknowledges that profiteering prevents consumers securing a ticket, yet calls for evidence of manipulation before recommending a price-cap. The report further blames event organisers for creating the conditions for the secondary one, but doesn't consider that they are seeking to make music, arts and sports events affordable. In our view the only way fans can be properly protected is through a blanket ban on resale for profit - as has been implemented in other markets around the world, and was successfully achieved for London 2012".
Meanwhile, over in the live sector itself, the boss of promoter Kilimanjaro expressed disappointment that no new legislation is being proposed, in the short term at least. Stuart Galbraith told IQ of Waterson's work: "I'm very pleased to see that he's highlighted that the CRA is being blatantly flouted, and that secondary ticketers are breaking the law with impunity, but the overall conclusion of the report is that the industry needs to self-regulate, which is what we've been told for over a decade, and for over a decade we've seen customers being ripped off".
And as for the secondary ticketing sector, StubHub was first to the quoting table, saying: "We welcome Professor Waterson's recognition of the benefits for consumers from the secondary market and his decision to reject further legislation at this stage, including price caps and any general resale bans or bans for 'crown jewel' events. We also welcome the suggested action on bots and the other measures which are directed towards the primary market".
"But we are concerned that there are still insufficient legal safeguards to stop event organisers using row and seat number details to cancel without compensation tickets offered for resale. Transparency should not come at the expense of people's right to resell their tickets".
Troy Ave arrested over shooting at TI show
CCTV footage from the Irving Plaza venue, where the shooting took place on Wednesday night, shows Collins, who was due to perform at the show, enter a backstage bar and open fire. The man killed in the incident, Ronald McPhatter, is thought to have been working as a bodyguard for Collins, and may have been shot unintentionally.
According to New York Daily News, Collins had been involved in a feud with rapper Maino, who had just left the stage when the shooting took place.
Collins has been charged with attempted murder and illegal weapons possession, with a murder charge expected to be added to that list.
In a statement last night, TI said: "My heart is heavy today. Our music is intended to save lives, like it has mine and others. My heartfelt condolences to the family that suffered the loss and my prayers are with all those injured".
White Hinterland sues Justin Bieber
Dienel's lawsuit says that Bieber's song takes the "unique characteristics of the female vocal riff" in hers, as well as having other similar musical characteristics. She says she tried to resolve the matter with the pop star's representatives last December, but has been ignored.
Adding that she does "not take the act of suing lightly", she explains: "Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to preserve my independence and creative control, thus it came as a shock to hear my work used and exploited without permission".
"Like most artists that sample music, Bieber could have licensed my song for use in 'Sorry'", she continues. "But he chose not to contact me. After the release of 'Sorry', my lawyers sent Bieber a letter regarding the infringement, but Bieber's team again chose to ignore me".
"I offered Bieber's team an opportunity to have a private dialogue about the infringement, but they refused to even acknowledge my claim, despite the obviousness of the sample. Justin Bieber is the world's biggest artist, and I'm sure that he and his team will launch a full attack against me. But, in the end, I was left with no other option. I believe I have an obligation to stand up for my music and art".
Paul Gambaccini replaces Tony Blackburn on Pick Of The Pops
Blackburn, of course, was fired by the BBC back in February for basically having a slightly different recollection of a conversation he had in the early 1970s than that recorded in the Corporation's official files. Which, of course, is a big fat no-no at the BBC. That's why I have every conversation I ever had with the BBC in the early 1970s fully documented. I mean, I wasn't alive then, and have never worked for the BBC, but you can't be too careful. I wouldn't want to be sacked from 'Pick Of The Pops'.
"I am honoured to be asked to present one of Britain's iconic radio programmes", said Gambo. "I will strive to meet the standards of my illustrious predecessors including Alan Freeman and Tony Blackburn", he added, assuring a name-check for the show's axed former frontman, though totally shunning the programme's previous host Dale Winton.
Meanwhile, over on the tweets, Blackburn himself noted: "Well, you now know Paul Gambaccini is to replace me on 'Pick Of The Pops'. Obviously I'm sad to have lost a show I loved but I wish Paul well".
CMU Insights @ The Great Escape 2016: The Big Recap
CMU Insights @ The Great Escape once again took over Brighton's Dukes @ Komedia at the heart of the TGE proceedings, with four full-day conference strands packed with fascinating insights, opinions and information. For those who missed it, we'll be provided write-ups of all the key session throughout June, so keep an eye on your CMU Daily over the next few weeks, or on the CMU@TGE blog, where all those reports will be appearing.
Things kick off today with the CMU Podcast, which returns after a few weeks off this morning. CMU Editor Andy Malt and CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke run through some of the key debates from TGE this year, including the discussions around diversity and mental health in the music community, plus the main takeaways from the blockchain and YouTube sessions. Check out all that - plus some chatter on the secondary ticketing review and Bpoplive's line-up woes - right here.
Next week we'll be writing up some of the interviews that took place during the live-themed CMU:DIY programme this year, including Jeff Thompson on the Off Axis project, Nats Spada on Brighton's Platform B initiative, and Matt Tanner on setting up a club brand and Vez Hoper on running a regular gig night. Then we'll put the focus on each of our core Insights strands in turn: YouTube and video, data and transparency, physical and direct to fan, and diversity and health.
Premium subscribers will also be able to access mini-reports based on each of the presentations given by CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke this year, which looked at the music industry's relationship with YouTube, transparency issues around the digital dollar, trends in the physical market, and why the music industry needs to get better at training.
So while The Great Escape 2016 may now be disappearing into the distance, there's plenty more to learn about the business of music in the coming weeks.
Jenny Hval announces new album Blood Bitch
"'Blood Bitch' is an investigation of blood", says Hval of the album. "Blood that is shed naturally. The purest and most powerful, yet most trivial, and most terrifying blood: Menstruation. The white and red toilet roll chain which ties together the virgins, the whores, the mothers, the witches, the dreamers, and the lovers".
17 Oct: Glasgow, Stereo
Car Seat Headrest announces UK shows
And those dates are:
20 Jun: Brighton, The Hope
Oh Yeah Music Centre, BMG Australia, Cooking Vinyl, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Charlotte Dryden has been promoted to the position of CEO at Belfast's Oh Yeah Music Centre. "I'm over the moon", she says,
• BMG Australia, which launched back in March you might remember, has signed publishing deals with The Living End and Wolfmother. "Enduring", says BMG Australia MD Heath Johns.
• Cooking Vinyl has announced four new signings: former Morcheeba members Skye | Ross, plus Area 11, Deap Vally and The King Blues. "Four", says Cooking Vinyl's Rob Collins. Amanda Palmer has also extended her deal with the label to cover North America and Australia too.
• The Strokes have signed to frontman Julian Casablancas's own label Cult Records and will release a new EP, 'Past, Present, Future', on 3 Jun. Listen to and pre-order that EP here.
• Would you like to see the video for 'Siberian Nights' by The Kills? Well, here it is.
• Shura's new single is 'What's It Gonna Be?' Her debut album 'Nothing's Real' is out on 8 Jul.
• We mentioned recently a new album from Russian Circles, due out in August. Here's the first single, 'Vorel'.
• Singer-songwriter Mononoke will release her debut EP 'Silence For You' on 15 Jul. Here's the hypnotic video for the single 'Alice'.
• Corbu will release their debut album 'Crayon Soul' on 5 Aug. Have a listen to 'Through Emptiness'.
• Saul Williams has announced UK tour dates for June and July, kicking off at London's Jazz Café on 20 Jun.
CMU Beef Of The Week: Pop v Brexit (Round 2)
As previously reported, the Leave.EU-backed event was originally due to take place at Birmingham's Genting Arena on 8 May. But in April, tickets for the show were withdrawn from sale after several of the acts on the bill pulled out - none having been properly briefed on the show's links to the political group.
Drum n bass act Sigma were the first to withdraw, while reps for Ella Eyre said that she had never confirmed, despite being listed as a performer. Pixie Lott, though rumoured, was never on board either, while DJ Luck & MC Neat and Phats & Small thought better of it, and Electric Swing Circus dropped out, saying that they were "generally pro EU".
Note that I said tickets were withdrawn from sale after those drop-outs, not that the event was cancelled. Because it was not cancelled. Sure, 8 May has been and gone, you've probably noticed that. But that's a minor issue. Just because all the acts dropped out doesn't mean this show can't go ahead. I mean, there are loads of acts in the world. Some of them must be willing to share a stage with Nigel Farage. Surely.
Well, on Wednesday a whole new line-up was announced, with a new date set for 19 Jun, four days before the big vote on whether or not the UK should stay in the European Union.
5ive, East 17, Alesha Dixon, Sister Sledge and Rose Royce's Gwen Dickey were now all on board. Great stuff. I mean, it's not quite the young-person-enthusing line-up that was originally promised, but it's a line-up. And sometimes that's all that matters. And if that lot isn't enough to keep you excited, "leading Leave campaigners" Nigel Farage, Liam Fox and Kate Hoey are all signed up to speak at the show too.
And that would have been all fine. I mean, that is definitely a bill that will shift 15,000 tickets, right? Or is it? Well, we'll never know, because almost straight away Alesha Dixon and 5ive pulled out. Only two members of 5ive were actually planning to perform - Ritchie Neville and Scott Robinson - so there should have been less trouble trying to get them to stick it out. But alas, no.
"When Rich and Scott agreed to play the event they understood that it was a pop concert funded by one of the Brexit organisations and not a political rally", said 5ive's management in a statement. "As it has come to light that this is more a political rally with entertainment included they have both decided to cancel their involvement. They would like to make it clear that as a band 5ive have no political allegiances or opinions for either side. Their allegiance is first and foremost to their fans".
Meanwhile, Dixon's manager told BBC Newsbeat: "When Alesha was approached to perform at this event it was on the understanding that she would be there purely as an entertainer. It has now come to light that this is more of a political rally with entertainment included. We have decided to withdraw Alesha from the event. We wish to apologise to any fans who may have purchased tickets. I would like to make it clear that Alesha has no political allegiances either way on this issue".
But wait a minute spokespeople, Leave.EU's PR guy Andy Wigmore is adamant that the popstars' concerns are unfounded, insisting that this event is "NOT a political rally".
Yes, who would ever think that an event taking place right before a big political vote and only featuring speakers from one side of the debate was a political rally? Idiots. I mean, just because the event's own blurb describes it as "the biggest campaign rally in modern British political history", doesn't means it's a political rally.
"I think they have missed a great opportunity to be part of a great festival", Wigmore continued, in an email to Newsbeat. "Any way of communicating to young people the importance of voting is welcome. Even if they were voting In and performed wearing In t-shirts, we would have still been happy for them to be part of it. Getting the young to vote on their future is hugely important and all we are supporting is that effort by the Bpoplive events team".
Yes, it is always good to communicate to young people the importance of voting, though doing so at an event several weeks after the cut-off point when they can register to vote is perhaps not massively helpful. Plus with this new line-up, by this point down to East 17, Sister Sledge and Rose Royce's Gwen Dickey, it's not clear exactly who Wigmore is classing as 'young people'.
The PR man also stressed that the concert is endorsed by, but not organised by, Leave.EU. Though the group's involvement has been communicated somewhat confusingly throughout the time whoever is actually behind this event has been trying to get it off the ground. Much as the nature of the event has not been properly communicated to the artists booked to perform.
When they then pulled out later the same day, Sister Sledge issued a statement saying: "Sister Sledge were not aware that the upcoming Bpoplive concert was a political rally. Because of the politically sensitive nature of the event, the group have decided to withdraw from participating. We respectfully remain supportive of the people of Great Britain at this time".
East 17's agent meanwhile offered no statement, but confirmed to Digital Spy that the band would not be performing. We don't know their political views, but numerous people have pointed out that their big hit was 'Stay Another Day'.
All those young aspiring voters still holding out for Gwen Dickey might also be disappointed, a spokesperson for her telling Newsbeat that the singer "didn't know what [Brexit] was, and is still considering it, but doesn't think she will be doing it".
So it's not looking good. But Leave.EU director Arron Banks saw the funny side. "All our acts have been annihilated in 24 hours", he told The Times. "I'm laughing at the absurdity of it all. Everyone thought they'd forgotten 5ive. Who the fuck are they?"
Who indeed. Maybe booking them (or at least two of them) to headline an arena show was actually a big joke, a distraction to lower everyone's expectations before the real line-up is announced. Because yes, there will be a third line-up, and it will be marvellous. In fact, apparently it was booked before the last of the second lot had bowed out. What's that? Who are they? Oh, we couldn't possibly tell you because it would blow your mind.
"Wait [until] you see the new line-up, we have doubled down!" tweeted Banks - head of an organisation, let's remember, that isn't in any way involved in organising this event - on Wednesday afternoon.
Wigmore tweeted shortly afterwards: "Third time lucky - new line-up at least are British patriots and want to leave the EU... phew".
Still no word on who these acts are, but Leave.EU has been getting all excited about a tweet from Bryan Adams. Sure, he's not British, and he was inaccurately claiming that our MEPs aren't elected, but a quote is a quote. They've already mocked up a poster suggesting that he is somehow officially endorsing their campaign. Get him on board for the show. The kids will love it. I mean, the line-up's apparently chock full of British patriots already, so no one will mind a Canadian getting in on the fun.
*I am saying that
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