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The annual guide to the global live entertainment ticketing business
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Last year’s Olympic Games saw Japan revisit the statute book with regards to scalping and reselling and make some significant changes. New legislation that bans the resale of tickets at a higher price than they were originally sold for, is applied to concerts and sporting events and also prohibits the purchase of tickets with an intention of scalping.
It was a big change for Japan’s live entertainment sector, which was hard hit by Covid and continues to suffer – some restrictions and rules remain in force. The pandemic also further entrenched the domination of domestic talent in the country, which accounts for around 85% of the market, with international acts taking a further 10% (K-pop takes the rest).
And there’s a geographical element at play, too – most international artists stick to Tokyo, Yokohama, and the Kansei area (Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe), leaving the rest of the country more reliant on local music and entertainment.
There are three main giants controlling Japan’s ticketing market – Ticket Pia, Lawson HMV Entertainment, and e+. CN Playguide are also significant. In part, Ticket Pia’s position can be put down to innovation and embracing new ideas – they were one of the first companies to tryout dynamic pricing, which they rolled out as part of a joint venture called Dynamic Pricing with Yahoo! Japan, and Mitsui & Co.
There are three main giants controlling Japan’s ticketing market – Ticket Pia, Lawson HMV Entertainment, and e+
Having already been introduced to sports such as football and rugby, it was expected to be a “very effective solution” for other entertainment events, according to Pia Corporation director Motoharu Murakami.
Of course, one issue with this and the worldwide trend for online and digital tickets is the reliance on good-old- fashioned CVS stores – traditionally, such stores housed machines linked to ticketing agencies’ platforms; they used thermal till receipts that could then be swapped for actual tickets on entry to a venue.
“…QR codes are becoming more popular. And for some sports, such as boxing, sumo, and baseball, paper tickets are still preferred”
“Most people still buy at their CVS,” says Total Ticketing’s Martin Haigh, “but QR codes are becoming more popular. And for some sports, such as boxing, sumo, and baseball, paper tickets are still preferred.”
These stores remain an important network, and in a country where traditional runs deep, it’s unsurprising that people are reluctant to fully embrace digital-only solutions.
As noted above, technically scalping and resale are now illegal – the ban includes online reselling, and in theory at least, violations could result in a fine of up to ¥1m (€8,213), a possible jail term up to one year, or both. In practice, however, the police rarely punish or investigate – a more common scenario is the promoter may not sell the tickets to the initial buyer or may not allow new buyers into the venue.
Violations could result in a fine of up to ¥1m (€8,213), a possible jail term up to one year, or both.
Prior to this law, there were several resale operators such as Ticket Camp, Ticketstreet, and Ticket Ryutsu Center, and many fans also purchased through auction sites like Rakuten Auction and Yahoo! Auctions; there were even mobile apps, such as Mercari, specially for resale.
With the introduction of the new law, it’s now common to find your name printed on the ticket, and Ticket Pia have set up their own exchange called Ticketore to try and establish a healthier resale culture.
INTERNATIONAL / DOMESTIC SPLITS & GENRES
As local artists dominate, the main genres for live shows are J-pop and K-pop, although Japan has always had vibrant, hyper-localised punk and alternative scenes that vary from city to city. Western pop does well when it comes to international artists, and most large heritage acts will hit Tokyo at some point.
Not content with being one of the largest ticketing players, Pia recently took the somewhat unusual step of building its very own arena in Yokohama. A radical move, it was undertaken in part at frustration of many of Japan’s venues being unbookable due to the Olympics, as well as the general shortage of major venues. Thus far, it’s proving popular with fans and artists; The 1975 are due to play two shows there next year.