Pricing, pre-sales and secondary went under the microscope in 2018’s major ticketing debate
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The controversial topics of dynamic pricing and resale were explored during ILMC's standing-room only Ticketing panel
By Gordon Masson on 02 Mar 2023
The controversial topics of dynamic pricing and resale were explored during a standing-room only Ticketing panel on day two of ILMC.
While the panellists all reported that the start of 2023 was strong in terms of sales, Paul Newman of AXS Europe Ltd sounded a note of caution.
“People are loading their credit cards and there may come a stage when that finishes and they can do no more. So are we loading everything towards the start of the year and then it’s going to slow down?” he posed.
Noting that there are increasing efforts to clamp down on touts, session chair Jessica Koravos of Oak View Group International steered the conversation toward dynamic pricing.
Andrew Parsons from Ticketmaster stated that market-based pricing was just part of the arsenal in the company’s toolkit that it can offer to artists and managers. He continued, “There are other approaches to locking down tickets more effectively, such as blocking transfers… Our perspective is to have the ability to provide everyone with full array of tools.”
“I don’t have a tattoo of my favourite hotel on me, but I do have a tattoo of my favourite band and that’s the difference”
Marcia Titley from Eventim Norway & Sweden reported that her company also has the ability to price based on demand, “But not every market is ready for dynamic pricing.” She added, “The question we pose to the artist is ‘what are you trying to achieve?’, because there are other ways to increase revenue without annoying the fan.”
Noel Edwards from The Ticket Factory said that drawing comparisons on dynamic with the likes of airlines and hotels was futile. “I don’t have a tattoo of my favourite hotel on me, but I do have a tattoo of my favourite band and that’s the difference.”
Suggesting that there will be a “tipping point” in dynamic pricing, Newman nonetheless said, “The higher priced tickets allow promoters to keep the prices of other tickets lower, so there is some justification that way, too.” He added, “It’s nothing new: at the Prince [21 Nights in London] tour where tickets were priced at £31.21, there was a bubble where people could pay whatever they want, and that allowed the other tickets to be priced at £31.21.”
Highlighting that the UK operations for Ticketmaster was not involved in the controversial Taylor Swift presale in America, Parsons added that the problems had been driven by bots, meaning that conversations with the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK are definitely worth stepping up.
However, Edwards opined, “As an industry, it’s maybe worth waiting for [governmental] change, because if they are not listening to us when we’re shouting, then maybe we should bide our time.”
“In Norway it’s illegal to sell tickets over face value, [and] it’s the same in Denmark and being considered in Sweden”
Commenting on a market where there is existing legislation to tackle touts, Titley commented, “In Norway it’s illegal to sell tickets over face value, [and] it’s the same in Denmark and being considered in Sweden. By having that legislation in place, the activity on the secondary market is much lower.”
Amid calls for greater support for grassroots music and venues, Parsons acknowledged that it is more than just a moral standpoint at Ticketmaster. “As a ticketing company we have the ability to build campaigns focussed on price, for the first time, where we can encourage people to support smaller acts and venues,” said Parsons. “We want to be able to support grassroots because it makes commercial sense to do so.”
Koravos and her guest speakers agreed that one of their main goals, going forward, was to educate the ticket buying public.
Edwards told ILMC, “One issue we are seeing at our venues is people turning up with fake tickets, but branded with a legitimate ticket agency logo. So, we have an education process whereby we need to inform people that if they don’t have a ticket in our venue app then it’s not a valid ticket. The bottom line is that we need to communicate better with ticket buyers.”
Titley revealed that tentative conversations are underway in her part of the world over schemes that could introduce rebates or discounts for people buying tickets to a second or third event in a venue. “There are lot of discussions in Scandinavia to
build that kind of loyalty.”
And answering a question whether it could work where different event organisers or promoters are involved, she responded, “Yes – it’s in everyone’s interest to sell more tickets.”
“Maybe as venues we need to do better job in education too,” concluded Koravos.
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