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Forget politicians: The biz must take control of ticketing

While backing from lawmakers is always welcome, writes Tixserve's Patrick Kirby, it's up to the industry to tackle ticket touting – and tech is the best way to do it

09 Aug 2017

Patrick Kirby, Tixserve

This year we’ve seen lawmakers around the world commit to the banning of ticket bots, marking a positive stride in the fight against firms that hoover up primary tickets with the intention of reselling them at four or five times the face value.

Laws against such practices will make it harder for these large-scale ticket touts to operate, but, as the record business has learnt over the past decade in its battle against piracy, the legislative route is often long, littered with pitfalls and usually only provides a partial solution.

Record execs will remember the headaches that surrounded the implementation of the Digital Economy Act in 2010 and are more likely to point to platforms like Spotify and Apple Music as the primary drivers of legitimate music consumption in a new digital landscape – although work to stamp out copyright infringement is, of course, still ongoing.

Legislation is a positive show of intent but its practical effectiveness hinges on how it is implemented and enforced in the real world. The Tixserve team has a history in the card payment and mobile top-up sectors, and we’ve seen how the targets of anti-abuse measures will often find ways to circumvent checks and blocks to continue earning their ill-gotten gains.

We also need to think about who is going to build the fences that keep touts out. Again, look to similar discussions elsewhere in the music biz, with rightsholders, legislators, ISPs and platforms such as YouTube constantly bickering over whose job it is to make sure copyrights are protected online. The job of enforcement is often passed on to parties who are less than willing to allocate resources to the task, reducing what could be tough legislation to lame-duck lip service.

But the music business doesn’t have to rely on outsiders to reclaim ticketing revenue while creating a compelling user experience. We’ve seen Team Sheeran recently track down and cancel thousands of tickets being flogged by online touts. But our industry is seeing the emergence of next-generation ‘track-and-trace’ paperless ticketing that can stamp out abuse and fraud from the off, regardless of legislation.

While the backing of lawmakers is welcome, the music business’s most effective response to challenges has always been to take matters into its own hands

Tixserve’s paperless ticket-fulfilment platform uses a triple-lock system that links the ticket to a buyer’s name, their phone and their phone’s unique ID, leaving no way through for touts/bots and fraudsters. And it provides this cast-iron security while improving the experience and flow of fans as they pass through the gates at venues without the hassle of having to produce credit cards and photo ID.

Crucially, Tixserve is a white-label platform, which means we put our technology into the hands of rightsholders, venues, ticket agents, D2C platforms – whoever wants to manage their ticket fulfilment in a modern, intelligent, secure and streamlined way. Tixserve technology allows the rights owner(s) of an event to permit ticket resale or not. Any resale would be controlled and regulated in a transparent and ethical manner by the right owner(s) via the configurable Tixserve platform. Unlike existing paper tickets, the secure Tixserve digital tickets cannot be resold or transferred without the permission of the rights owner(s).

But security isn’t the only factor the live business needs to consider when it comes to reclaiming control over the ticketing sector. With the right tech, the live industry can go a step further and redefine what a ticket is in the modern era.

Through branded apps and portals powered by technology, fans are able to connect with artists and gain access to exclusive opportunities and merchandise. Meanwhile, ticket sellers are able to capture an unprecedented level of consumer data allowing for direct marketing that will drive further sales and revenue.

The music industry, as a whole, has faced challenging times in recent years, as outsiders have sought to use new technology to scalp revenue from creators and the teams that support them. While the backing of lawmakers is important and welcome, the music business’s most effective response to these threats has always been to harness technology itself and take matters into its own hands.


Patrick Kirby is managing director of white-label paperless ticketing platform Tixserve.