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Live orgs unite for Make Tickets Fair! campaign

A coalition of live industry organisations and professionals from across Europe is launching the Make Tickets Fair! campaign to help music fans avoid being ripped off on the secondary ticketing market.

The group comprises agents including UTA’s Jules de Lattre and One Fiinix Live’s Jon Ollier, as well as organisations including German live entertainment association BDKV, the European Music Managers Alliance, European Arenas Association, FanFair Alliance, Swiss consumer association FRC, Pearle – Live Performance Europe, PRODISS, the Sports Rights Owners Coalition and Victim of Viagogo.

Further details of the initiative will be revealed tomorrow at Eurosonic, at a panel hosted by pressure group FEAT and Dutch venues association VNPF. Speakers include De Lattre, Henk Schuit (Eventim Nederland), Sam Shemtob (FEAT) and Silke Lalvani (Pearle – Live Performance Europe).

“It’s vital that this campaign is successful, and that means becoming front-of-mind with agents, managers and promoters when they are planning shows – so safe resale information goes out with all communications, including on ticket pages,” says De Lattre.

“The current ticket resale market is, frankly, broken and the time for the industry to come together and act is long overdue”

“We are delighted to be part of the campaign Make Tickets Fair! to bring awareness to all audiences about how and where to safely buy their event tickets,” says Silke Lalvani, head of public affairs at Pearle. “It is crucial that the live performance sector as a whole collaborates on stopping illegal ticket resale to make sure that fans have a great experience at live shows and other events.”

A new industry-facing website has launched, providing free resources and advice for event organisers, with the goal of getting more agents, promoters, venues and indeed artists, involved ahead of consumer launch. It also offers a clear overview of ticket resale laws country by country.

“The current ticket resale market is, frankly, broken and the time for the industry to come together and act is long overdue,” adds Neo Sala, FEAT director and founder & CEO of Spain’s Doctor Music. “As the first Europe-wide campaign of its kind, Make Tickets Fair! has huge potential to help fans and rebuild trust in live music. To achieve this, cross-industry collaboration is essential, and we look forward to getting as many members of the live business on board as possible.”

 


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FEAT sets out objectives and welcomes new members

The Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has pledged to continue campaigning for a Europe-wide ban on ticket resale above face-value.

At its first in-person general meeting since the pandemic, FEAT also unveiled plans for an international consumer awareness initiative geared at educating fans on the risks of buying tickets from uncapped secondary ticketing sites. The messaging and strategy is currently in development, with FEAT facilitating a working group made up of organisations across Europe, including BDKV, the European Music Managers Alliance, the European Arenas Association, FanFair Alliance, FRC, Pearle – Live Performance Europe.

In addition, the organisation welcomed new members Chris Ortiz, director of Cordova-based Riff Producciones, and Iñigo Argomaniz, CEO of Get In, based in San Sebastián.

“There’s a renewed energy to tackle touting, and we have been invigorated by positive changes in national and EU legislation over the last year”

“It’s great to finally meet again in person and welcome more new faces among us,” says FEAT director Neo Sala, founder and CEO of Doctor Music, who hosted the meeting. “There’s a renewed energy to tackle touting, and we have been invigorated by positive changes in national and EU legislation over the last year – demonstrated not least in MCT-Agentur and Rammstein’s recent injunction against Viagogo in Germany.”

Held in Barcelona, the meeting saw the board refocus its priorities after the past year’s successful campaign for tougher regulation of online marketplaces in the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA). The landmark DSA includes measures to ensure professional sellers are identifiable, prevent certain manipulative sales tactics, and require regular reporting to improve transparency for consumers.

 


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Viagogo banned from reselling Rammstein tickets

German heavy rock band Rammstein and European promoter MCT Agentur have obtained an injunction against secondary ticketing platform Viagogo.

The restraining order, issued by the district court of Hamburg, means that Viagogo is banned from reselling tickets for the band’s 2023 European stadium tour.

It is the second time the Hamburg Regional Court has legally prohibited the Switzerland-headquartered company from reselling Rammstein tickets, following an identical injunction in 2019.

“Buyers often do not realise that they are not buying their tickets from the organiser but on the secondary ticket market”

The most recent court order is based on the consumer protection regulations that were newly defined in May 2022.

“Buyers often do not realise that they are not buying their tickets from the organiser but on the secondary ticket market,” says Attorney Sebastian Ott. “The legislature has recognised this deficiency and acted. We are pleased that the district court of Hamburg shares our opinion and consistently prohibits violations of the new law.”

As a result of the injunction, Eventim is the only platform authorised to sell tickets. In addition, only the person whose full name is noted on the ticket will be admitted – this will be checked against an ID card.

Furthermore, it is forbidden to pass on the tickets. If a buyer is unable to appear, resale is only possible via the fanSALE website distributed by Eventim – and only from 1 December, 2022.

 


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Most fest tickets on Viagogo sold by three traders

Just three people are responsible for over two thirds of UK festival and outdoor event tickets listed by resale platform Viagogo, according to a new report.

An investigation by ITV News, based on research carried out by anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance, found that fewer than 10% of tickets on the secondary ticketing site were being sold by ordinary consumers.

Analysis of more than 11,000 tickets from 174 events over a three-month period revealed that over two-thirds were being sold by just three “traders” for a combined total of £1.7 million – almost £1m above face value.

The report found evidence of so-called “speculative” tickets – which sellers do not yet possess – being illegally offered for sale.

The investigation contacted 10 festivals being listed by the three traders, with two saying the sellers had bought nowhere near the number of tickets being advertised, and the rest saying they had no record of them buying any tickets at all. One of the traders’ listings have since been removed from Viagogo’s website.

“We treat concerns about tickets with the utmost priority”

“We treat concerns about tickets with the utmost priority,” says a spokesperson for Viagogo. “In this instance, we acted swiftly to remove the relevant listings and have returned several to the site that have clearly demonstrated that they are legitimate and valid.

“We continue to review the remaining listings and these remain off site.”

Viagogo was fined €23.5 million by Italy’s Communications Regulatory Authority AGCOM in June for breaking the country’s rules on secondary ticketing.

The decision followed an investigation by Italy’s financial crime enforcement agency the Guardia di Finanza, which found the platform had listed tickets for 131 events at prices up to six or seven times above their face-value. Viagogo responded that since it had already been held a ‘passive’ intermediary platform by the Council of State in a previous final judgment, it was confident the fines would be annulled on appeal.

Earlier, in May, Australia’s full federal court dismissed Viagogo’s appeal against a ruling that it had made misleading claims on its website relating to the reselling of concert and sports tickets.

 


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Twickets reveals next steps after record quarter

Twickets founder Richard Davies has revealed to IQ that the company’s revenues from international territories have doubled from pre-pandemic levels.

The face value or less fan-to-fan resale site is coming off its best-ever quarter in the midst of a huge summer for live music in the UK. In excess of 300,000 tickets were listed on the platform from May to July, with gross revenue up 140% compared to the same three months in 2019, with single tickets making up 40% of sales.

According to the firm, 74% of ticket sales now come in the first 48 hours post-listing, while two-thirds of tickets sold are within a week of the event itself.

“Post-pandemic there’s been a very positive impact on resale activity, as reflected in our recent results,” Davies tells IQ. “With so many more events scheduled –and rescheduled – coupled with fans changing their own plans, we’ve seen a real surge in trading.

“With the majority of tickets listed on secondary platforms coming from ‘brokers’, fans have come down on the side of our ethical approach to resale.”

The company says that 1.5 million unique users visited the Twickets platform during the three-month period, while a record 18,500 alerts were set up for the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert, which takes place at Wembley Stadium on 3 September. Twickets is the benefit show’s official resale partner and will be donating its fee from the event.

“Growth has been particularly strong in mainland Europe”

Established in 2011, the London-headquartered company works with more than 300 live entertainment partners in the UK including venues, artists, promoters, festivals and ticketing companies, and confirmed a link-up with the UK’s Music Venue Trust earlier this year, with a number of significant new partnerships to be announced soon.

Backed by several high-profile managers, agents and promoters, Twickets also has local operations in the US, Spain and Australia, with further overseas expansion plans on the horizon.

“Revenue from international territories has doubled since pre-pandemic levels, and growth has been particularly strong in mainland Europe,” says Davies. “As a result, we’re now focused on building a local Twickets team in key territories there, notably Germany and France.”

The firm, which has previously partnered on tours by artists such as Adele and Ed Sheeran, used the downtime inadvertently provided by Covid-19 to enhance its services.

“We invested a lot of time re-engineering our apps during lockdown, and have subsequently witnessed a large increase in adoption rate,” says Davies. “Over 70% of users now access Twickets through mobile.

“Furthermore, the introduction of an ‘events happening near you’ feature in the app has increased last minute purchases by those seeking inspiration for a local night out.”

 


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Campaigners back landmark ticket resale ruling

Campaigners against ticket touting have backed the European Parliament’s decision to approve new laws strengthening regulation around online marketplaces, including ticket resale sites.

The landmark Digital Services Act (DSA), which was passed by 539 votes to 54, includes measures to ensure professional sellers are identifiable, prevent certain manipulative sales tactics, and require regular reporting to improve transparency for consumers.

Crucially, online marketplaces will now be required to obtain essential information about third party professional sellers before traders are allowed to list tickets on the platform.

Resale platforms must also make it clear throughout the buying process that the tickets listed are provided by a third party, while dark patterns – user interfaces designed in such a way as to trick users into making certain decisions, such as “pop-ups” or giving prominence to specific choices – will be banned.

“The introduction of the Digital Services Act is a key moment for the live events sector in the UK, as well as across Europe”

The development follows two years of lobbying by the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT), which culminated in arranging an open letter signed by more than 130 representatives from across Europe’s live sector, calling for the EU to introduce tougher laws to combat online ticket touting. However, FEAT argues the text could have gone further and will continue to campaign for tougher rules.

“The introduction of the Digital Services Act is a key moment for the live events sector in the UK, as well as across Europe,” says FEAT director Sam Shemtob. “The new legislation regulating online marketplaces will see EU countries catch up with the UK in terms of stricter rules for verifying professional sellers and making sure fans know who they’re buying from. This will directly impact all UK artists who tour Europe, as well as make it harder for UK touts to operate under the guise of anonymity on European ticket resale sites.”

“This is an important step towards increasing accountability and to prevent scams, which will contribute towards a healthier European touring industry”

The DSA will now go through the formal adoption procedures by the European Council before it is published in the EU Official Journal. It will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, and its provisions will mainly apply 15 months after entry into force or from 1 January 2024, whichever comes later.

Per Kviman, CEO of Versity Music and chair of the European Music Managers Alliance (EMMA), which represents 1,800 music managers in 10 European countries, adds: “EMMA is very pleased to see new rules which protect both artists and the ticket-buying public have been approved by the European Parliament. This is an important step towards increasing accountability and to prevent scams, which will contribute towards a healthier European touring industry.”

 


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Viagogo fined €23.5m in Italy for resale breach

Italy’s Communications Regulatory Authority AGCOM has fined Viagogo €23.5 million for breaking the country’s rules on secondary ticketing.

The decision, taken at an AGCOM Council meeting last week, followed an investigation by Italy’s financial crime enforcement agency the Guardia di Finanza, which found the secondary ticketing platform had listed tickets for 131 events at prices up to six or seven times above their face-value.

Events included concerts for artists such as Maneskin, Vasco Rossi, Sting, Green Day, Dua Lipa, Pearl Jam, Placebo, Cesare Cremonini, Paolo Conte and Andrea Bocelli.

An amendment to Italian legislation, introduced to Italy’s 2017 budget law to criminalise ticket touting, prevents tickets being sold for commercial purposes or for above face value.

“The authority highlights that the practice of secondary ticketing has the effect of inflating the prices of tickets, increasing the barriers for the access of consumers and Italian citizens to cultural events, also to the detriment of the community of artists, event organisers and primary retailers,” concludes AGCOM. “This is of particular relevance at an important time for the events sector to recover live, after the forced interruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Legislation across Europe – at both a national and EU basis – is catching up with ticket scalping”

AGCOM has given Viagogo seven days to remove the illegal listings from its site, and the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has spoken out in support of the authority’s ruling.

“This is a substantial fine for Viagogo, and a clear requirement to remove illegal listings within seven days,” says FEAT director Sam Shemtob.

“What is especially encouraging is the extensive investigation carried out by Italy’s financial crime enforcement agency working closely with the Italian regulator AGCOM. Legislation across Europe – at both a national and EU basis – is catching up with ticket scalping. If other enforcement authorities follow Italy’s example, the hope of a functional ticket resale market, with scalping largely relegated to the history books, could become a reality.”

A spokesperson for Viagogo responds: “We respect the decision of the AGCOM, however we are surprised by this fine because the Council of State has already raised ‘serious doubts’ that the law in question on secondary ticketing – and the related fines of AGCOM, including to Viagogo – are compatible with fundamental principles of EU Law on competition, free circulation of services and limitation of liability of pure intermediary platforms for illegal activity of its users.

“Indeed, Viagogo has already been held a ‘passive’ intermediary platform by the same Council of State in a previous final judgment, confirming that it does not sell the tickets and is not liable for the illegal sales of tickets carried out by the platform’s users. As a result, the Council of State has referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union to decide whether the law at issue and the AGCOM fines are valid and enforceable according to such EU principles.

“Viagogo trusts that these pending proceedings will confirm it is not responsible for the allegations raised by the AGCOM and all fines will be annulled.”

The course of action comes just over a month after Australia’s full federal court dismissed an appeal by Viagogo against a ruling that the platform had made misleading claims on its website relating to the reselling of concert and sports tickets.

 


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Australian court dismisses Viagogo appeal

Australia’s full federal court has dismissed an appeal by Viagogo against a ruling that the secondary ticketing platform had made misleading claims on its website relating to the reselling of concert and sports tickets.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) instigated legal proceedings against the company in 2017, alleging it had “made false or misleading representations, and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, regarding the price of tickets on its online platform by failing to disclose substantial fees”.

The federal court ruled in favour of the watchdog’s allegations in 2019, finding Viagogo in breach of consumer law, with Justice Stephen Burley noting its conduct was deliberate and that some of its misleading claims were made “on an industrial scale”.

The full court has now upheld the findings along with the AUS$7 million penalty imposed for the breaches of the Australian Consumer Law.

“This case was about bad behaviour by an international ticket reseller”

“This case was about bad behaviour by an international ticket reseller that deliberately misled thousands of Australian consumers about the price they would have to pay for tickets and falsely represented that those consumers were purchasing tickets from an official site,” says ACCC commissioner Liza Carver.

The full court upheld the finding made in 2019 that Viagogo had falsely represented that it was the ‘official’ seller of tickets to particular events. It also upheld the finding made by the primary judge that from 1 May 2017 to 26 June 2017, Viagogo’s website drew consumers in with a headline price but failed to sufficiently disclose additional fees or specify a single price for tickets, including a 27.6% booking fee which applied to most tickets.

“Businesses must clearly disclose if they charge additional, unavoidable fees on top of the advertised price”

“Viagogo misled music lovers, sporting fans and other consumers who were hoping to get tickets to a special event. Consumers were drawn in by a headline price and were often unaware of the significant fees charged by Viagogo until very late in the booking process when they were already invested in attending the event,” says Carver.

The full federal court stated that “had Viagogo made it clear that it was operating a ticket resale site, then there would have been no misapprehension by consumers”.

“Businesses must clearly disclose if they charge additional, unavoidable fees on top of the advertised price,” adds Carver.

The court also upheld previous orders made against Viagogo in relation to a compliance programme, publication orders and an injunction.

A spokesperson for Viagogo says: “Viagogo is disappointed with the federal court’s ruling, but we remain committed to continuing to provide choice for consumers to access tickets and attend events.

“The ruling concerns language used in some advertisements and the form of the Viagogo website around five years ago. It does not reflect our current ticketing platform and the many changes we have made to provide greater transparency for our customers.”

 


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FEAT welcomes tougher resale legislation

The Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has given a cautious welcome to the news that the EU has reached a provisional political agreement on the Digital Services Act (DSA), designed to ensure secondary ticketing marketplaces act responsibly.

The text was agreed on Saturday (23 April) in Brussels, after a marathon 16 hours of discussions between policy-makers.

The DSA contains is expected to include regulation meaning that ticket touts will only be able to list tickets after providing essential information, which marketplaces must make efforts to verify. Secondary marketplaces will also be obliged to conduct random checks for tickets sold illegally, while measures designed to panic buyers, such as pop-ups claiming several people are viewing the same ticket, will be banned.

Additionally, search engines such as Google are understood to face new responsibilities.

“We hope the new requirements for vetting traders and publishing basic information about the seller will enable fans and event organisers to make informed decisions”

“We cautiously welcome news of measures to be placed on secondary ticketing marketplaces to clean up the Wild West in which they have operated so far,” says FEAT director Sam Shemtob. “The devil will be in the detail, but we hope the new requirements for vetting traders and publishing basic information about the seller will enable fans and event organisers to make informed decisions.”

FEAT has spent two years engaging with the EU over the DSA, culminating in arranging an open letter signed by more than 130 representatives from across Europe’s live sector, calling for the EU to introduce tougher laws to combat online ticket touting.

The text of the DSA will need to be finalised at technical level, before both Parliament and Council give their formal approval. It will come into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal. Big Tech firms will then have four months to prepare for the rules, while companies with fewer than 45 million users will have 15 months or until 1 January 2024.

 


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Music Venue Trust confirms Twickets partnership

The UK’s Music Venue Trust (MVT) has confirmed a partnership with capped ticket resale marketplace Twickets.

Established in 2011, Twickets works with more than 300 live entertainment partners in the UK including venues, artists, promoters, festivals and ticketing companies.

“We are delighted to become a partner of MVT,” says Twickets founder Richard Davies. “This is a key development for us as it further embeds the business as the legitimate face of resale, working to bring fairness and transparency to event-goers everywhere.

“Our goal is always to improve the ticket buying experience”

“Our goal is always to improve the ticket buying experience, and we look forward to collaborating with all members of MVT to prevent blatant profiteering in the secondary ticket market, which not only harms fans but damages the industry as a whole.”

A charitable organisation, the MVT was founded in January 2014 to help protect, secure and improve music venues in the UK.

Mark Davyd, MVT founder and CEO, adds: “We are really pleased to welcome Twickets as one of MVT’s partners. Their mission to enable fans to resell tickets they can no longer use for the price they paid or less aligns well with MVT’s goals to keep tickets out of the hands of touts and in the hands of genuine grassroots gig going fans. Customers can buy from Twickets with the reassurance that they are supporting grassroots music venues across the UK.”

 


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