Industry urges action on touting via EU’s DSA
In response to the launch of the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA), the Face-Value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has published new recommendations for the future of online ticket resale.
The pan-European anti-touting group, established early last year, has issued further proposals to protect fans from “harmful” secondary ticketing and reduce illegal ticket resale across the EU, following the FEAT-backed ban on ticket bots introduced in April 2019.
Its recommendations are backed by a host of industry associations, including the Spanish Association of Music Promoters (APM), Germany’s BDKV, the Association for Electronic Music, Pearle* and the European Music Managers Alliance (EMMA), and broadly supported by Waterson report author Prof Michael Waterson.
The joint action – which follows more than 50 court cases and initiatives to try and curb secondary across 11 EU member states FEAT surveyed – comes after European commissioners approved initial proposals for the DSA, which aims to offer better protection for online consumers, late on Tuesday (20 October).
“EU action is necessary through to put control of tickets back into the hands of those putting on the shows”
FEAT’s recommendations, which are outlined in a position paper published today (22 Oct), include:
- Clear liability for online marketplaces, with rules stating when they are responsible for misleading information or guarantees, and illegal or delisted tickets
- Verification processes to vet sellers and their tickets, to prevent tickets being listed unlawfully
- More transparency measures for online marketplaces, with clear information about tickets (including face value) and the identity of sellers
- Better reporting and take-down for tickets not permitted for resale
- Oversight, enforcement and public performance rating from a European agency empowered to ensure the DSA’s provisions are implemented
- Rules must apply to marketplaces trading within the EU, but based outside
Austrian MEP Hannes Heide, who sits on the European parliament’s culture committee, is supporting the FEAT proposals. He comments: “Ticket resale platforms like Viagogo list and advertise mostly overpriced tickets for sporting or cultural events, usually being sold by commercial traders rather than consumers. They enable the sale of speculative tickets, which the seller does not even own, and sales that contravene the lawful terms and conditions of the ticket. This harms consumers, artists, event organisers and honest ticket sellers.
“In several countries, such as Austria, Viagogo has been legally obliged to disclose the identity of the ticket sellers, which enables defrauded consumers to take action against the seller. In addition, the platform must inform buyers of the ticket’s original face-value price and whether the tickets are personalised.
“While this is a partial victory, it is not enough. The platforms must comply with all requirements of EU law and the authorities of the member states must work together to ensure compliance.”
“European consumers are long overdue secondary ticketing marketplaces they can rely on”
Per Kviman, chair of EMMA, adds: “The growth in ticket resale across Europe through sites like Viagogo and StubHub has undermined the ability of artists to sell their tickets to fans at a fair price they determine. Instead, brokers/touts buy up large volumes of tickets to the most popular shows, falsely inflating prices and limiting access for consumers.
“EU action is necessary through the Digital Services Act to put control of tickets back into the hands of those putting on the shows and creating powers to take down illegally listed tickets. As European managers we back FEAT’s campaign.”
“So much has changed since the e-Commerce Directive came into effect in 2000, and European consumers are long overdue secondary ticketing marketplaces they can rely on,” comments FEAT campaign lead Katie O’Leary.
“That can only happen through better regulation, enforcement and a public performance rating which will put the onus on marketplaces to make sure the tickets that they’re promoting – and profiting from – are accurately depicted, real and guaranteed to gain fans entry into the event. We welcome the result of this week’s plenary vote, which is a step in the right direction.”
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.
Tech the key to controlling touting, finds second Waterson report
Warwick University economics professor Michael Waterson – known to the music industry as the author of the government-commissioned Waterson report into secondary ticketing – has called for the UK ticketing sector to look at ways in which technology can be used to improve consumer experience online, including increasing online security, making transactions more transparent and enabling greater controls over the secondary market.
In ‘Ticketing as if consumers matter’, which serves as a follow-up to his May 2016 report – which made several recommendations, including banning ticket bots, investing in consumer protecting agency National Trading Standards and prosecuting violators of the Consumer Rights Act, all of which were accepted by the British government – Prof. Waterson outlines ways in which he believes online ticketing could be made more consumer friendly.
He focuses particularly on two technological solutions:
- Using the blockchain, “which can easily incorporate several primary sellers for the same event through an open-source protocol” and be designed to “incorporate the rule that if the owner cannot attend, they must transfer the ticket back to the original seller for redistribution or for on-sale at no more than a particular price”
- Resale models exemplified by AXS’s Flash Seats and Ticketmaster Presence, wherein “any unwanted tickets go back to the original seller for recirculation to new buyers” (though he notes that, at present, these solutions “assume a single primary seller and bring with them the prospect of reduced competition in the ticket selling marketplace”)
The report was funded by a grant from blockchain ticketing platform Aventus, for which Waterson is an advisor.
“In my view, a desirable ticketing system would be one that puts consumers first, both in terms of ease, fairness and choice,” Waterson writes. “Currently, many of the participants in the market do not have consumers foremost in mind, and the lesson from various other markets where technology has shown significant potential is that ultimately, a framework that provides what (most) consumers want wins out.”
‘Ticketing as if consumers matter’ can be read in full here.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.
Dillon, Prof Waterson join blockchain ticketer Aventus
Michael Waterson, the British economist who led a government-commissioned review of the UK secondary ticketing market, has joined the advisory board of Aventus Systems, the developer of a blockchain-based ticketing system.
Joining Prof. Waterson on the board – which will “provide strategic, technical, and legal counsel for the Aventus team as they bring their solution to the global ticketing markets” – are veteran promoter/consultant Bernie Dillon, formerly of Hard Rock Live and now director of Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Live; William Knottenbelt, director of cryptocurrency research at Imperial College London; and Daniel Masters, of Global Advisors’ bitcoin investment fund.
“My investigation into the event ticketing industry, particularly in music, brought home to me how a structure has grown up that leads to consumer confusion and frustration, alongside a range of dubious practices,” says Waterson (pictured). “Technologically the problems are challenging, but, to me, Aventus has a comprehensive approach to their solution. Provided there is sufficient industry buy-in, Aventus can be a real force for positive change.”
Dillon adds: “Anyone who has ever attended, hosted or produced a live entertainment event, be it a UFC fight, boxing match or concert, has been affected by counterfeit tickets or extortionate secondary resale prices.
“Provided there is sufficient industry buy-in, Aventus can be a real force for positive change”
“Aventus brings a refreshing solution to these age-old problems that could very well end fraudulent activity and unregulated ticket touting once and for all.”
More information about the Aventus platform, which the UK-based start-up describes as “a revolutionary global standard for the fair, secure and transparent creation, promotion and sale of tickets that is not controlled by any one entity”, is available here.
An initial coin offering (ICO) – a type of crowdfunding campaign for cryptocurrency-based start-ups – was planned for this month, but has been pushed back to August after a collapse in the price of Ethereum, a Bitcoin-like cryptocurrency which would have funded the ICO.
IQ investigated the potential for using blockchain to eliminate ticket touting earlier this year. Other companies active in the space are GUTS Tickets in Amsterdam and Lava and Citizen Ticket in the UK.
Lords vote for further UK resale regulation
The British government was yesterday defeated by the House of Lords on an amendment anti-touting campaigners say will significantly strengthen obligations to consumers by secondary ticketing sites.
The snappily titled amendment 33ZLZA to the Digital Economy Bill is opposed by the government, which backs the recommendations made in the Waterson report, an independent review which recommended no new legislation in favour of proper enforcement of the existing Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2015.
However, members of Britain’s unelected – but politically balanced – upper house yesterday voted 180–157 in favour of the amendment, which would require sites such Seatwave, Get Me In!, StubHub and Viagogo to provide the ticket reference or booking number, as well as any specific condition attached to the resale of the ticket.
Under the CRA, secondary sites are already obliged to list the original face value, seat/row numbers and any usage restrictions.
The bill goes back to the House of Commons (elected, controlled by the government) next month for MPs to either approve or reject the amendments made by the Lords.
“This is not about a cap on resale prices. It is perfectly within the conclusions … of the Waterson report to move ahead with this simple but effective remedy”
Addressing the Lords yesterday, Conservative peer Lord Moynihan said: “We do not want to ban the [secondary] market, although noble Lords did so for the Olympic Games in London 2012. Similarly, this is not about a cap on resale prices. It is perfectly within the conclusions [of], and the government’s response to, the Waterson report, to move ahead with this simple but effective remedy.
“It is not costly; it is about the cost of a phone call […] to say: ‘Your original ticket had a unique reference number on it. I want to check that the one I have bought from StubHub or one of the other secondary sites is for real. Can you tell me whether that same number, which does not exist on there – or they have put another number on it – is for real before I incur a lot of costs?’. It is a simple additional consumer protection measure which does not cost anything.
“It would look after consumers – in this context, particularly fans of sport and fans of music – which is what we should be all about.”
Anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance is also in favour of the amendment. “Despite concerted media and political scrutiny, the resale of tickets on platforms like Viagogo, Get Me In!, Seatwave and StubHub remains wholly lacking in transparency,” says FanFair’s Adam Webb. “This is the only online marketplace where buyers are given no identity about sellers – a peculiarity which is massively helpful to touts whose activities are anonymised, but not so much to consumers. It’s is a recipe for bad practice at best, and outright fraud at worst.
“That’s why this small amendment to the Consumer Rights Act is so important, as it could help provide more certainty that a ticket actually exists in the first place, as well as crucial details about terms and conditions of resale. FanFair Alliance warmly welcomes the Lords’ decision last night, and alongside the other recent commitments we look forward to further discussions with government about how ticket resale can be made more transparent, honest and consumer-friendly.”
Viagogo snubs UK ticket abuse inquiry
Viagogo has been heavily criticised by British MPs after failing to send any representatives to today’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee evidence session on ticket abuse.
The hearing – a follow-up to a similar session in November attended by Ticketmaster, eBay/StubHub, Professor Michael Waterson and more – saw a cross-section of industry figures, including See Tickets’ Rob Wilmshurst, Hamilton ticketing director Keith Kenny, Ed Sheeran manager Stuart Camp, Kilimanjaro Live’s Stuart Galbraith, Daily Record journalist Mark McGivern and campaigner Clair Turnham, of the ‘Victims of Viagogo’ group, give evidence to MPs as they consider what action the UK will take on ticket touting.
Committee chair Damian Collins said: “It is of considerable disappointment to us that Viagogo have decided not to send a representative, despite the fact that they have a substantial office in Cannon Street [in central London].
“Given that other companies that operate in the primary and secondary ticketing space, like Live Nation and eBay, have given evidence to the committee, it is of considerable disappointment to us that Viagogo don’t feel they have any oral evidence they can contribute.”
Nigel Adams MP said the no-show demonstrates a “huge lack of respect” on Viagogo’s part.
— Nigel Adams #GetBoosted (@nadams) March 21, 2017
Nigel Huddleston MP, another member of the committee, said Viagogo had shown “a lack of respect to parliament and, by extension, the British public”.
Mobile ticketing app Dice, meanwhile, used the no-show to take a pot shot at Viagogo, joking it had a “last-minute ticket for the intimate” committee hearing for sale.
— DICE (@dicefm) March 21, 2017
According to The Guardian, Switzerland-headquartered Viagogo told MPs by email last night it would not be attending.
The publicity-shy company, which largely adopts a ‘head in the sand’ approach to negative publicity, has recently been hit with multiple speculative-selling lawsuits in Europe, while it – along with eBay’s StubHub and Ticketmaster’s Get Me In! and Seatwave – is under investigation by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority for alleged breaches of consumer protection legislation and HMRC for alleged non-payment of taxes.
Ministers have previously discussed making non-attendance of select committees a crime, although no legislation has yet been introduced.
UK accepts Waterson recommendations, bans bots
As promised in October, the British government has published its long-awaited response to last year’s Waterson report into secondary ticketing, accepting Prof. Michael Waterson’s recommendations in full – including a total ban on ticket bots.
The government’s commitment is described by anti-ticket touting group FanFair Alliance as “extensive”, and includes an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill to criminalise the use of bots to bulk-buy tickets, with potentially unlimited fines for those who break the new law.
Other measures include a substantial investment in consumer-protection agency National Trading Standards, and renewed pressure on four secondary ticketing sites – StubHub, Viagogo and Ticketmaster’s Seatwave and Get Me In! – to identify touts and make clear to consumers when tickets are being sold on the secondary market.
FanFair’s campaign manager, Adam Webb, comments: “A crackdown on the misuse of bot technology to bulk-buy tickets will be hugely important in helping clean up this market, but of equal significance is government’s blanket acceptance of recommendations in the Waterson review, which, if implemented, should lead to greater transparency.
“Banning bots is a step towards ensuring the ticketing market for live events works more fairly for gig-goers”
“That aspect is absolutely vital. Only with proper enforcement of the law will this market work in favour of consumers.”
Alex Neill, managing director of home services at the Consumers’ Association/Which?, also welcomes the news. “Banning bots is a welcome move, as it should give genuine fans a better chance of getting tickets for popular events,” he says. “Ticketing sites must have much more robust protections in place to combat bots, and the competition authorities now need to make sure that this crackdown really works and take strong action against anyone who breaks the law.”
In a response sent to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), industry umbrella group UK Music writes: “UK Music is pleased that government is responding to industry representations and is now acting on the recommendations of the Waterson review.
“The use of bots to bulk-buy tickets amounts to industrial-scale touting. Massive profit is made by people who are taking value out of the music industry and putting tickets out of the reach of music fans. Banning bots is a step towards ensuring the ticketing market for live events works more fairly for gig-goers.”
“Of equal significance is government’s blanket acceptance of recommendations in the Waterson review, which should lead to greater transparency”
Jonathan Brown, chief executive of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), says: “Over the last ten months, STAR has been very focused on progressing the recommendations made to the primary ticket market in Professor Waterson’s excellent 2016 review of the secondary ticket market. With the co-operation of DCMS, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), we facilitated two meetings to enable the entertainment industry to discuss those recommendations and consider further actions. In addition to STAR and the organisations mentioned above, those meetings were attended by representatives of other entertainment industry bodies with an interest and responsibility for the primary ticket market.
“The meetings were a step towards fulfilling some of the recommendations made in the review, particularly in discussing with the CMA fair terms and conditions around the resale of tickets. STAR therefore very much welcomes the government’s commitment to improving the secondary ticket market for consumers by accepting and acting on the recommendations made by Professor Waterson.”
Richard Davies of face-value ticket resale site Twickets, meanwhile, says the government action is “heartening” but reiterates his calls for for-profit resale to be banned outright. “It’s heartening to hear that after years of campaigning, the government appears to have gotten the bit between its teeth on clamping down on the profiteering rife within the secondary market,” he comments.
“The news that Trading Standards will be funded to enforce these measures and that Waterson’s other recommendations have been accepted in full are also welcome, though we urge the government to go further and ban secondary ticketing for profit outright.”
Why hasn’t dynamic pricing taken off in music?
If 2016 will be remembered in the live music business for any one thing, it will be as the 12 months in which the pitchforks well and truly came out against secondary ticketing.
It was the year of the Waterson report and the Bots and Boss Acts, of FanFair and #ResaleNO, and the year in which Italy surprised the world by announcing plans to outlaw ticket touting altogether.
Although most of the industry – with, of course, the exception of the secondary sites themselves – agree on the desirability of minimising touting, it remains divided on the best way to do so. Italian-style legislation is one possibility; as is blocking individual sites, as has happened in Belgium.
Another is the dynamic pricing of tickets, in which prices fluctuate based on market demand – already common for sporting events, as well as in the booking of airline tickets and hotel rooms. Despite market leader Ticketmaster throwing its hat in the dynamically priced ring for select tickets in 2007 – followed by then-CEO Irving Azoff calling for more dynamic pricing in music – the practice has yet to find widespread acceptance in the live music industry, despite its obvious potential for making the for-profit secondary market far riskier for touts, if not redundant altogether.
The reason for that, says Barry Kahn, the CEO of Qcue, a leading developer of dynamic pricing software, is primarily logistical: “From our side, it’s a challenge working with [concert] promoters because ticketing relationships run through venues: for example, Madison Square Garden with Ticketmaster,” he explains. “If you’re an artist coming through MSG you don’t touch the ticketing system.”
Kahn says the majority of his current clients are sports teams, with “not a lot of dynamic pricing on the concert side”. While he is clear he “[doesn’t] want to say it doesn’t justify the fees” – “I’ve never seen a client that didn’t have a large positive on ROI [return on investment],” he says – he admits “it is a more expensive proposition” to dynamically price tickets, and for that reason is more popular for long runs at a single venue.
“I’ve never seen a client that didn’t have a large positive on ROI”
Manager Adam Tudhope – co-founder of Everybody’s (Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, Keane) and a prominent anti-touting campaigner – says he “doesn’t doubt that it [dynamic pricing] might be one of the tools that people use alongside other ones [to minimise touting] – and I say good luck to them”.
Tudhope says it’s important that artists and promoters are upfront with their audience – that if they do decide to dynamically price, they let fans know the reason ticket prices are fluctuating – and that the ‘demand’ determining prices isn’t fixed by the secondary market.
“The ethical stance when selling tickets to fans is to be as transparent as possible,” he says. “If an artist and their business advisors think the audience can afford to pay more – and they want to make more money out of the show – then as long as they’re straightforward with their audience about what their offering is, I don’t see a problem with dynamic pricing.
“Doing it via secondary is underhand and rips off the fan, because they don’t know what the whole market has to offer.”
Ticketmaster UK, which dynamically prices most of its high-profile shows under the Ticketmaster Platinum banner, tells IQ its Platinum tickets aren’t pegged to how well shows are telling on its secondary platforms (Seatwave, Get Me In!). “Platinum prices are based on the demand,” explains managing director Andrew Parsons. “We place a portion out for sale starting at what we estimate market price to be; this is based on previous experience and our data tools. We also gauge market price on how quickly the initial allocation sells – we change price as we release more seats.”
Parsons says dynamic pricing is suitable for multi-venue tours, as opposed to just residency-style shows, explaining that the company can easily “manage it across multiple promoters and venues”.
“There are often many decision-makers involved … It can sometimes be challenging to get everyone on the same page”
While Parsons says he’d “love to think” there will be a time when Ticketmaster’s general-admission (GA) tickets are also dynamically priced, he explains it’s much easier to implement with premium seats. “With Platinum there’s a clear differentiating element: you’re selling the best seat,” he says. “That’s understood by both consumers and artists. It’s harder to do when it’s GA.”
Greg Loewen, CEO of Qcue rival Digonex, says he believes take-up of dynamic pricing in live music is being affected by a false belief among many promoters that dynamic pricing is an unreliable or unproven technology.
“Pricing is really hard, especially for a tour,” Loewen tells IQ. “Every night is in a different market and a different venue. Optimising pricing under those conditions is extraordinarily time-consuming and challenging, and not many dynamic pricing tools are designed to handle that level of complexity, so promoters may assume there is no reliable way to dynamically price a tour.” He insists that isn’t the case: “We hope to talk to those folks!”
One of Digonex’s live-entertainment partners is a well-known American comedian, who has seen significantly increased ticket revenues as a result of adopting dynamic pricing. “When we started out, his manager was concerned about the price going up too much,” explains Loewen. “But because of his popularity, we’re now seeing significant growth in ticket price – and we haven’t had a single complaint from any consumers.”
Despite the success stories in sports and live comedy, both Loewen and Kahn admit dynamically pricing live music is more difficult.
“There are often many decision-makers involved: promoters, agents, venue management, artists,” says Loewen. “It can sometimes be challenging to get everyone on the same page regarding a significant change like adopting dynamic pricing. It takes time.”
“As promoters we spend far too much time having to discuss ticketing and allocations – time that could be better spent on marketing and selling shows”
Former Metropolis Music director Conal Dodds – now running Crosstown Concerts with Paul Hutton and Fraser Duffin – says he can’t see it becoming commonplace in touring. “I think [it] works on theatre runs, and could work on festivals and residencies, for instance, but it would be incredibly complicated to strike a deal on the basis of one-off shows or tours where more than one promoter is involved,” he explains.
While Crosstown is committed to minimising touting for its shows – and has an exclusive ticketing partnership with Songkick to that end – Dodds says, as a promoter, he just isn’t interested in getting into the nitty-gritty of ticketing, gradually or otherwise: “As promoters we spend far too much time having to discuss ticketing and allocations – time that could be better spent on marketing and selling shows, which is where we all earn our monies.”
Kahn believes in order for dynamic pricing to see wide adoption in live music, “you need a restructuring in contracts”, with promoters “properly incentivised to take more risks” via a more generous share of the show’s revenue. At the moment, he says, there’s “too much risk and not much upside for the promoter”, leading to the temptation to “purposefully” pass tickets to secondary sellers.
There’s also the thorny issue of the potential for dynamic tickets to drop in price if the demand isn’t there. “Bands,” says Kahn, are simply “unwilling to drop prices… How often does that happen?”
Parsons says the eradication of ticket touting is “very much up there” in the considerations of those artists who do opt for at least partial dynamic pricing. “We’ve had discussions with artists who think it’s a problem,” he explains. “There’s a growing appreciation that you do need to take some steps [to minimise resale], and one of them is dynamic pricing.”
He adds there’s still “almost a stigma” about taking more money from fans, even in a “world where there’s no [income from] recorded”: “If you [artists and promoters] don’t take this money, other people will – you’re the ones with the creativity and who are taking the risk.”
“If you don’t take this money, other people will”
Loewen, too, is firmly in the Michael Rapino/Professor Waterson camp when it comes to the pricing of primary tickets, opining that “the level of activity in the secondary market suggests that many tickets are not priced efficiently”.
“Many view dynamic pricing as code for ‘price gouging’,” he says, “and are concerned about alienating their loyal fans with primary ticket prices that are perceived as too high.
“This is an understandable concern, although we all see that in instances of excess demand many fans will still pay the higher price – the only difference being that more of the profit is captured by the secondary market as opposed to the artists.”
He adds that dynamic pricing “isn’t only about increasing prices: sometimes it’s about lowering them too. It’s about finding the ‘right’ price that more accurately reflects true market demand and is fair to consumers.”
Tudhope, however – who has spoken of his wish to see ticket touting criminalised in the UK – isn’t wholly convinced. “Dynamic pricing, ethically done, might be appropriate for some of my artists’ audiences, and not for others,” he concludes. “This is the main point, and an important argument to make against the secondary sites who say ‘put on more shows!’ and ‘make your ticket prices higher!’.
“If the artist and I decide that there should only be one show, and that it be priced reasonably, that should frankly be our choice – not down to a market that is completely skewed by the often-illegal practices of touts.”
Waterson: Be braver in pricing to stop touts
Michael Waterson, the Warwick economics professor behind May’s long-awaited review of the UK secondary ticketing market, has called for greater diversity in ticket pricing, arguing the sale of different seats in seated venues at too similar a price is encouraging touting.
Speaking yesterday at the Live & Ticketing Summit at the Grosvenor House hotel in London, Prof Waterson expressed concern the British government has not yet responded to the review, saying he hopes his recommendations – which called for government and the industry to ensure compliance with the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) – won’t be “pushed into the long grass”. He added, however, that artists and promoters, who “tend to price similarly between seats”, also have a part to play, and must cater for “different degrees of fan” (for example, “people from the office” and girlfriends and boyfriends only mildly interested in the artist) who will have “different needs and different abilities to pay”.
Prof Waterson’s comments echo those made by Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino at the 28th International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in March. Speaking to ILMC managing director Greg Parmley – who also moderated the Political, Policy and International Developments panel on which Prof Waterson appeared – Rapino said artists need to be braver in how they price the house, stating that on one hand acts are still scared to charge high sums for front-row seats and less for seats at the back – something that’s “generally not a good brand position”, he said – and on the other upset that secondary ticketing companies are profiting from it.
Rapino and Prof Waterson’s views are also shared by artist manager Paul Crockford (Paul Simon, Mark Knopfler, Danny Thompson), who, speaking from the audience, said in his experience touts are “only interested in the front ten rows” in seated venues. He recommended cutting out the primary market altogether for such seats, selling them “straight to fan club”.
Paul Crockford said touts are “only interested in the front ten rows” and recommended cutting out the primary market altogether
Dissenting voices came from fellow panellist Dianne Hayter, a Labour peer, who called for government, police, promoters and venues to take a tougher line on touts who violate the CRA – venues, said Baroness Hayter, have “every right” to turn people with fraudulent tickets away, while from a legal standpoint “one person behind bars would be wonderful!” – and audience member Marcus Russell of Ingition Management (Noel Gallagher, Catfish and the Bottlemen), who said artists aren’t underpricing but “growing [their] brand” rather than chasing “short-term profit”.
Russell also channelled his inner Michael O’Leary by advocating that touts are called ticket “pirates” instead, akin to those who illegally download recorded music.
Joining Prof Waterson and Baroness Hayter on the panel was Neo Sala, founder of Doctor Music, the Spanish promoter currently taking legal action against Seatwave, Viagogo, Ticketbis and a number of other secondary ticketing sites. Sala stated that he “wish[es] we had [face-value ticketing exchange] Twickets in Spain” and closed with an emotive appeal to act on large-scale ticket resale, saying: “What kind of society do we want to live in? One where only rich people can to go shows?”
Recently launched anti-touting alliance FanFair, which organised the summit with Songkick and the Music Managers Forum, used the event to launch #ToutsOut, a 24-page guide advising on how to minimise touting of their artists’ tickets.
Speaking at the launch, FanFair Alliance founder Adam Tudhope said: “While we wait for government to act, it is essential that managers and music businesses develop ticketing strategies that aim to disrupt the touts and help fans. This guide marks a first step towards that goal.”