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British Columbia introduces ticket sales act

The Legislative Assembly of of British Columbia (B.C.), Canada’s westernmost province, has introduced a new Ticket Sales Act to establish a regulatory framework for the sale and resale of tickets to live events.

The ticketing bill prohibits the use of bots or automated ticket-buying software and introduces transparency requirements for both primary and secondary ticket sellers, including the declaration of the total price and face value of any ticket, as well as any additional fees or service charges.

Under the act, secondary ticket sellers must issue a refund guarantee to purchasers, as well as disclosing their identity, location and contact information.

The new legislation also places a ban on speculative tickets and on the sale of tickets that sellers do not have in their possession or control.

“These changes are going to make our live event industry in B.C. even better for the people who matter most — the fans,” says Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general.

“The new laws will make the ticket buying process more transparent and equitable for consumers, so that everyone in our province will have a fair chance of getting tickets for their favourite acts and events,” comments Farnworth.

“The new laws will make the ticket buying process more transparent and equitable for consumers”

The Ticket Sales Act comes following a government consultation into British Columbian perspectives on the current ticketing process. The subsequent report reveals the main concerns among the public to be the difficulty of obtaining tickets on the primary market and the “unfair” pricing of tickets on secondary platforms.

The Canadian Live Music Association has congratulated the British Columbia government on the act. “This legislation is good for fans and it’s good for the growth and momentum of BC’s incredible concert sector which creates almost 7,000 jobs and contributes $815 million to BC’s economy,” says Erin Benjamin, president and chief executive of Canada’s national industry association.

Benjamin commends Farnsworth and his team for “their commitment to working with the live music industry” in developing the bill.

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018, StubHub is the resale market leader in Canada. Ticketmaster is also involved in the resale business, through its Verified programme.

Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, introduced its own Ticket Sales Act on 1 July 2018, which banned bots and overhauled other areas of ticket selling. Ontario’s act also placed a resale price cap of 50% above face value on tickets which, along with other elements, proved controversial within the industry.

Alberta introduced its own ticket-selling legislation in August, with Manitoba following suit in December.

 


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$7.5m for music in BC

Building on Canada’s already impressive public funding programme for music, its third most populous province, British Columbia (BC), has announced Amplify BC, a C$7.5m (US$5.8m) to support the growth of the local music industry.

British Columbia is Canada’s third-largest music centre, with over 285 music companies, 160 recording studios and more than 200 music festivals across the province. The music business contributes approximately C$400m each year to the provincial economy.

According to the BC ministry of tourism, arts and culture, the Amplify BC programme will focus on four funding areas:

“The government’s commitment to the sector is exemplary”

“We listened carefully to advice from people involved in many facets of the music industry,” explains Lisa Beare, minister of tourism, arts and culture. “I’m excited that our government is creating this new funding programme designed to give artists and other music professionals the support needed so they can continue to grow.

“BC has a well-earned reputation for excellence in music production. This fund will help place BC talent on the world stage.”

Erin Benjamin, executive director of industry association Music Canada Live, says: “This is thrilling news, and so timely for the broader industry and artists. As we ready to release our Here, The Beat: the Economic Impact of Live Music in BC report this coming spring, which will demonstrate the value and impact of BC’s incredible live music community, we know that this meaningful support will ensure the momentum being built in the province can continue.

“The government’s commitment to the sector is exemplary.”

British Columbia in October 2016 launched the special event permit, a new event licence aimed at cutting red tape for promoters.

 


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Axed Pemberton lost “several million” in 3 years

Canada’s Pemberton Music Festival, which filed for bankruptcy on Friday, has burned through “several million” US dollars in cash losses since its debut three years ago, according to administrator Ernst & Young (EY).

Pemberton Music Festival (PMF), which was revived by Huka Entertainment in 2014 after a one-off outing with Live Nation in 2008, was the biggest music festival in British Columbia, attracting close to 180,000 attendees last summer.

Despite increasing revenue from ticket sales ~100% year on year from 2014 to 2015 – US$5.8m to $10.3m – and a further $5m in 2016, revenue to date for 2017 is just $8.23m (against expenses of $22m), and festival operating companies Pemberton Music Festival Limited Partnership and General Partner, 1115666 BC Ltd now owe creditors approximately $2.5m.

PMF also incurred “significant losses” from 2014 to 2016, bankruptcy filings reveal.

The festival’s bankruptcy is attributed to the relative weakness of the Canadian dollar to its US counterpart – which doesn’t bode well for UK festivals faced with a slumping pound sterling – as well as difficulties in sourcing talent “due to a limited number of artists touring in 2017”. Acts booked for 2017 included Chance the Rapper, Muse, A Tribe Called Quest, Haim, Major Lazer, Diplo, Run the Jewels and MGMT.

“We are extremely disappointed for our fans, artists and all of our partners who have supported the festival over the years”

The cash shortfall for 2017 was expected to exceed $10m, with “no certainty of cash available” to fill the hole in the festival’s finances, says EY.

The more than 18,000 people who had already bought tickets for the event will not receive automatic refunds – as, “with PMF in bankruptcy, it has no ability to provide refunds for tickets purchased” – although ticketholders may file a proof-of-claim form with EY as unsecured creditors.

A statement from Huka, which will continue to promote Tortuga Music Festival in Florida, makes it clear it was PMF’s directors who made the decision to file for bankruptcy. “For the past four years Huka Entertainment has worked to create a one-of-a-kind experience in the most beautiful place on earth,” it reads. “We are heartbroken to see the 2017 Pemberton Music Festival cancelled.

“As a contract producer, Huka did not make the decision to cancel the festival. That decision was made by the Pemberton Music Festival LP. We are extremely disappointed for our fans, artists and all of our partners who have supported the festival over the years.”

 


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BC slashes licensing red tape for promoters

British Columbia is hoping to boost its live music sector making it easier to stage concerts and festivals.

Promoters in the province, Canada’s westernmost, will now be able to apply for a special occasion licence – a fast-tracked alcohol licence previously only available to charitable and non-profit organisations – which will be renamed the ‘special event permit’.

Allowing for-profit businesses to accept liability for the alcohol served at their events will, says the British Columbian (BC) government, “cut red tape for event organisers” and allow promoters to seek “advantageous partnerships with breweries, wineries, and distilleries in order to raise money for charity”.

“On behalf of BC’s music festival organisers, we truly appreciate the ministry’s continued focus on red-tape reduction”

Graham Henderson, the president of Music Canada, says: “Today’s announcement is one more important step to building a sustainable music industry for the benefit of our artists, the economy and live music event attendees, and for that we thank the BC government.

“Reducing red tape for live music performances is an important addition to the BC music strategy and demonstrates the government’s strong support of our growing industry sector. BC has a deep musical heritage and is home to some of the finest production facilities, artists and labels in the world. We’re very happy to see the province make changes that can better position BC to compete in an increasingly global marketplace.”

Nick Blasko, a member of the BC Music Fund’s advisory committee, adds: “On behalf of BC’s music festival organisers, we truly appreciate the ministry’s continued focus on red-tape reduction. Their effort towards a licensing strategy that will help to create more events in our province is good for BC artists and many of our province’s music companies. We look forward to seeing these changes implemented.”

 


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