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Winners blast ticket resale at StubHub Q Awards

Jack Garratt, James Bay and Bastille’s Dan Smith used their acceptance speeches at last night’s Q Awards – this year controversially sponsored by StubHub – to condemn the secondary ticketing market.

Speaking to IQ last month, StubHub’s Aimee Bateas called the sponsorship “a good example of us investing in the [music] industry” and said the ticket resale giant will “continue to seek more opportunities to continue this”, although the deal was heavily criticised by anti-touting group FanFair Alliance as attempting to “buy legitimacy” for StubHub.

Breakthrough act winner Garratt, best solo act Bay (pictured) and best track winner Smith (with Bastille, for ‘Good Grief’) are apparently in the latter camp, with Smith the most vocal: As reported by Music Week editor Mark Sutherland, the Bastille frontman said: “Exploitative secondary ticketing is fucking bollocks. It’s shit for fans, and it’s pretty shit for the bands as well.”

“Exploitative secondary ticketing is fucking bollocks. It’s shit for fans, and it’s pretty shit for the bands as well”

Garratt, meanwhile, said the fans who voted for him “deserve fair ticket pricing for the shows they want to go and see”, while Bay commented: “Apologies to my fans for ever having to deal with secondary ticketing sites. I hope we see an end to those.”

U2 won the award for best live act, while Madness were given the hall of fame prize, both presented by StubHub.

A full list of winners is on the Q website.

 


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StubHub reaches out to industry amid 32% growth

StubHub has launched a renewed bid to build bridges with the wider live music industry as it celebrates another quarter of strong growth.

The secondary ticketing site grew turnover 32%, to US$263 million, and gross merchandise volume (GMV) – or the value of tickets sold – 23%, to $1.1 billion, in the third quarter (Q3) of 2016. No profit figures are available for StubHub specifically, but eBay’s gross profit fell slightly from $1.74bn to $1.72bn compared to Q2.

The figures are slightly less impressive than the 40% recorded in Q2, but further cement StubHub’s value as a much-needed driver for growth for parent company eBay, which spun off its profitable PayPal subsidiary in mid-2015.

As the world’s largest ticket resale marketplace, StubHub has bore the brunt of much of the criticism from those opposed to ticket touting, with even the most hardened anti-secondary ticketing activists grudgingly accepting that Live Nation/Ticketmaster – which owns a number of resale sites, including Seatwave and Get Me In! – ‘gives something back’ via its investment in talent. However, in conversation with IQ, StubHub insists it, too, is committed to investing in the industry – and gives its strongest condemnation yet of the sky-high ticket prices common to many secondary ticketing sites.

“Our goal is to seek out partnerships where we can use our global reach to give event organisers, artists and promoters another channel to sell their tickets at face value,” StubHub spokeswoman Aimee Bateas explains. “The Q Awards partnership” – a reference to the company’s controversial sponsorship of Q’s 2016 awards ceremony – “is a good example of us investing in the live industry, and we continue to seek more opportunities to continue this.”

In addition to its partnership with the Q Awards, StubHub – acquired by eBay in January 2007 for a reported $310m – has high-profile sponsorship agreements with a number of venues, music festivals and sports teams.

“We are increasingly working with partners to offer them another channel to sell primary, face-value tickets”

The core of StubHub’s business is still “providing a safe and secure ticket marketplace for resale”, but it states that the company is “increasingly working with partners to offer them another channel to sell primary, face-value tickets”.

“This”, Bateas says, is “a win-win, because it gives our customers more choice and gives the rightsholder another route to market for tickets. The primary inventory on the site also drives down prices in the secondary market, as sellers have to compete with face-value prices.”

StubHub isn’t considering channelling back any of eBay’s $1.74bn profits directly to content creators, but says there are “many different approaches that could be tested to ensure as many fans as possible can attend while as much revenue as possible can be captured by the event creators and artists”.

“The current on-sale model is very traditional, and it’s clear that the primary market is not functioning as well as it could, as outlined by Professor Waterson,” Bateas says. “Transparency is deliberately lacking in terms of how many tickets are available to buy at face value at any given point. The public never have this information.

“For example, could artists drip-feed face-value tickets onto the market in regular intervals, rather than just one frantic on-sale window at 9am on a Friday?”

Time will tell whether StubHub’s bid for rapprochement with an often-hostile industry bears fruit – but, for now at least, not everyone is convinced. A spokesperson for the UK-based FanFair Alliance – which has as its stated objective the eradication of “under-regulated and industrial-scale online ticket touting” – says: “Perhaps we should scrutinise a little closer the environment that allows such extraordinary profits to be generated by a global corporation, and at whose expense. They certainly explain how StubHub can embark on such high-profile marketing campaigns, and multimillion-dollar acquisitions like Ticket Utils and Ticketbis.”

 


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FanFair criticises StubHub’s Q Awards sponsorship

Q Magazine yesterday announced the shortlist for the 2016 Q Awards, which see Coldplay and The 1975 leading the nominations with four apiece and the former battling it out with Savages, U2, Wolf Alice and Muse in the StubHub-sponsored best live act category.

So far, so innocuous – but not everyone is happy with StubHub’s involvement with one of the biggest events on the UK awards calendar. The FanFair Alliance, the anti-secondary ticketing group formed in July by a coalition of British managers, agents, promoters and other industry figures, today released the following statement, in which it decries the sponsorship as an attempt to “buy legitimacy” for the eBay-owned ticket resale site:

StubHub is a business complicit with harbouring professional ticket touts, ripping off fans and extracting millions of pounds each year from the UK’s music economy.

“This partnership is simply an attempt by StubHub to buy legitimacy. We will be writing to the managers of nominated artists to further highlight these concerns”

The company’s sponsorship of the 2016 Q Awards (now the StubHub Q Awards) comes at a particularly sensitive time, during an ongoing compliance review of secondary ticketing by the Competition and Markets Authority and with government due to respond to the recommendations of Professor Michael Waterson that would help clean up a notoriously under-regulated sector.

As the FanFair Alliance we have very real concerns that this partnership is simply an attempt by StubHub to buy legitimacy. We will be writing to the managers of nominated artists to further highlight these concerns, as well as the damage that industrial-scale online ticket touting is having on the wider music business.

IQ has contacted StubHub for a response.

The 27th Q Awards take place on 2 November at the Roundhouse in London.

 


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