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FanFair Alliance launches guide to tackle touting

FanFair Alliance, the music industry campaign established in 2016 to tackle “industrial-scale online ticket touting”, has today (Tuesday 17 September) published new guidance to help artists and managers to tackle secondary ticketing.

The guidance, which was developed alongside new model terms and conditions published by the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) and is backed by the UK’s Music Managers Forum (MMF), can be downloaded here.

The guide advocates that artists, event organisers and venues make two clear and upfront statements in their terms and conditions of sale – that tickets are for consumers only to purchase, and that audiences are permitted to resell tickets for the price they paid or less, and that a consumer-friendly resale or reallocation mechanism is provided.

The alliance hopes that the cost-free measures will empower artists and organisers to employ a wider range of acts to prevent exploitation of fans, while promoting fairer ticket resale practices.

The publication follows major developments in the fight against the UK’s secondary ticketing market, including the provision of detailed information about the tickets listed on secondary sites – in keeping with consumer protection law – an end to misleading marketing practices such as “drip pricing” and the suspension of infamous secondary site Viagogo from Google search advertising.

The introduction of “consumer friendly” resale services, including AXS Official Resale, Ticketmaster’s Ticket Exchange, See Ticket’s Fan-to-Fan and CTS Eventim’s FanSALE, has also given fans alternative resale options.

According to STAR chief executive Jonathan Brown, the use of such authorised resale systems “helps to combat unwanted excesses in the secondary ticket market.”

“As well as disrupting the practices of dedicated touts, our aim is that [artists] will help promote a fairer and more transparent ticketing market”

Despite developments, YouGov data, viewed by FanFair Alliance, suggests online ticket touting remains a concern for live music fans, with 79% of concertgoers surveyed in April 2019 stating that “too many tickets end up on reselling sites for inflated prices” and 67% affirming that artists “should do more” to prevent this practice.

A recent decision by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to halt legal actions against Viagogo prompted further concerns from anti-tout groups and live industry professionals.

“The message from audiences remains pretty clear and consistent,” says FanFair campaign manager Adam Webb, who recently aired his thoughts on the continued need for action against Viagogo in IQ. “They’re still sick of exploitative online ticket touts, and they expect artists, event organisers and venues to do something about it.

“And here’s the good news: they can. The UK is now leading the way in the fightback against unscrupulous secondary ticketing practices. Artists have been empowered to take action.

“There’s a number of strategies they can pursue, but the no-cost recommendations in this guidance are open to all. As well as disrupting the practices of dedicated touts, our aim is that they will help promote a fairer and more transparent ticketing market.”

MMF chief executive Annabella Coldrick agrees, stating that “artists and their teams now have real power to take back control of their ticket prices by using simple T&Cs and offering consumer-friendly resale to fans,” urging “all managers to read this guide and use it.”

The full guide can be read online for free here.


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Ridiculous lawsuit of the week: TM sued over Hamilton ticket fiasco

Hit musical Hamilton has put audiences into a frenzy around the world. However, no musical lover has been left quite so frenzied as Texas lawyer Joshua Davis, who is suing Ticketmaster for damages after being refused a refund for his mistakenly purchased Hamilton tickets.

Davis says he intended to buy three tickets for 14 or 15 March to see the musical, which is based on the life of American founding father Alexander Hamilton. The tickets were a present for his eldest daughter’s 12th birthday on 9 March.

Yet, the tickets purchased were dated 17 January. The lawyer claims that the date changed after he clicked the “back” button on his browser. Noticing the change, Davis believed to have terminated the purchase, but his card was charged US$2,325.50 for three tickets on the incorrect date.

Davis contacted the ticketing giant immediately after the mistake, waiting on hold for a “prolonged” period of time before speaking to a resolution specialist. TM refused to exchange the tickets for others on the intended date, or to issue a refund. The solution offered was resale through the Ticketmaster website, with an additional administrative fee.

“Ticketmaster’s position within the marketplace constitutes a monopoly on the lawful sale of tickets”

The company instructed Davis he was not to sell the mistakenly purchased tickets for any less than the price he paid for them, “artificially inflating ticket prices and impairing plaintiff’s ability to mitigate his damages and sell his tickets.”

Davis is now suing the ticketing corporation for fraudulent inducement and breach of contract. A court document obtained by Above the Law sets out the case:

“Not only did Ticketmaster’s website fail to respond to Davis’s attempt to cancel the charge, but Ticketmaster failed to refund the most basic of internet browsing errors literally minutes after the mistake is identified.”

“Furthermore, Ticketmaster’s position within the marketplace constitutes a monopoly on the lawful sale of tickets, specifically Hamilton tickets, giving Ticketmaster an unlawful position as a monopolist that can abuse consumers.”

The company has 50 days to respond to Davis’s claims.


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More Google resale reactions: “Some distance left to go”

With new global restrictions now live on the use of Google AdWords by secondary ticketing sites, UK anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance has “unequivocally welcomed” the update to Google’s ad policies – but warned there is still room for improvement if the search giant is serious about cracking down on dishonest ticket resellers.

As required by Google’s new ‘event ticket reseller policy’, all major online secondary outlets – including Get Me In! and Seatwave in the UK, Ticketmaster Resale in Australia, SeekGeek, TicketsNow and Vivid Seats in the US and StubHub and Viagogo internationally – have put up notices making clear they are resale sites, and that prices may be above face value.

However, the same wording isn’t included in the ads themselves, meaning a Google search, for example, for “Kendrick Lamar tickets” still brings up scores of resale sites as the top results, with no indication they are not the primary sellers.

In a statement, FanFair identifies this lack of consistency as the “one crucial area” where more needs to be done, saying that while it welcomes Google’s “proactive involvement to bring further transparency to the ticket resale market”, the “largest resale sites still fail to make clear that they are secondary platforms, listing secondhand tickets.

“Given their continued prominence on search pages, the implication remains that these are authorised primary sellers or ‘official sites’. That is simply not the case. Until their ad messaging is amended, we suspect UK ticket buyers will continue to be misled.

“Until ad messaging is amended, we suspect ticket buyers will continue to be misled”

“This is something we look forward to discussing with Google and will urge them to act upon. Unless secondary ticketing sites are forced to ‘be honest’, the full consumer benefits of certification are unlikely to be achieved.”

Elsewhere in the UK industry, Mark Gasson, founder of primary ticket agency Gigantic, urges Google to go on step further in totally excluding secondary sellers from its search results. “While we welcome these changes that help to protect customers from being deceived when searching for tickets online, we would like to see this as the beginning rather than the end in the attempt to safeguard online ticketing,” he tells IQ. “In time, we would want to see all secondary sites excluded from all ticket searches and be restricted to pure secondary tickets searches.

“As it stands, some customers will still not see past the warnings and will end up paying more than they need to for their tickets. This not only misleads customers but also impacts on their potential spend on other concerts.”

“Google’s moves to ban misleading adverts from the secondary sites on its search engines is a welcome move, and a step in the right direction which should stop a lot of people being ripped off,” adds Dan Ealam, director of promoter DHP Family.

“Having seen firsthand the pain these unethical sites can cause consumers through false claims of being official, financial heartache for music fans and sometimes even selling non-existent tickets, we feel there is still some distance left to go, but this is a good starting point from Google.”


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Choice shops secondary ticket sites to Aus govt

Australian consumer organisation Choice has uncovered multiple alleged breaches of consumer law following an investigation into the country’s secondary ticketing sector.

The investigation, which focused chiefly on Viagogo and Ticketmaster Resale, found those who buy tickets from secondary sites generally pay over the odds – and could, owing to Australia’s complicated state-by-state ticket resale laws, even be liable for hefty fines.

The most serious allegation, however, concerns the ‘hidden’ fees levied by some secondary ticketing sites, which are potentially illegal under Australian law. Commenting a case in which a seller on Viagogo listed tickets to The Avalanches in Sydney for A$199 each, with an additional “handling, booking and VAT fee” of $52, Choice head of media Tom Godfrey (pictured) says: “By dripping in an unavoidable $52 fee, consumers cannot redeem the advertised ticket price of $199. Instead they are slugged a 26% increase, with the total price jumping to $251.

“Under Australian consumer law companies have to advertise the total price of a product or service. It is illegal to drip in additional fees and charges which result in the advertised price unable to be redeemed.”

“Under Australian consumer law companies have to advertise the total price of a product or service. It is illegal to drip in additional fees”

Choice (formerly the Australasian Consumers’ Association) also claims those who buy tickets through Ticketmaster Resale could be levied with a fine – in Queensland, for example, where resale for more than 10% of face value is illegal. “We found Ticketmaster Resale listed VIP tickets to Justin Bieber’s concert at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane for $2,555 – a 374% mark up on the face value of $539 – yet Queenslanders face a fine of more than $600 if they buy a resold ticket above 10% of the original price,” says Godfrey.

Choice has passed on its findings to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), a government authority responsible for bringing legal actions against companies that breach the Competition and Consumer Act.

“We think it’s important that consumers have the right to resell legitimate tickets they can’t use,” comments Godfrey, “but with anti-scalping legislation varying from state to state and some venues cancelling resold tickets, it pays to read the fine print before parting with hundreds of dollars.”


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Desktop still king for concert ticket sales

Despite strong global growth in the mobile ticketing market, most consumers still prefer to buy their concert tickets on personal computers, new research suggests.

Analysing data from its Flyt URL-shortener, media-buying firm Dash Two found while 75% of clicks on ads for live events in the US come from mobile devices, 64% of the actual buying is done on desktop.

In its Save the Date report, which tracked sales primarily from Live Nation-owned ticket outlets, including Ticketmaster, TicketWeb and resale site TicketsNow, Dash Two concluded that “music ticket sales are still occurring more strongly on desktop, while discovery seems to be happening more on mobile”.

It also discovered (see infographic below) that while ticket sales occur throughout the week, the peak days are Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Dash Two Save the Date infographic


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Ticket resale? NO, says Japanese music business

Japanese music industry associations, festivals and more than 100 of the country’s most popular performers have announced their support for #転売NO, a FanFair Alliance-style campaign aimed at ending ticket touting in Japan.

In a joint statement, the Japanese Federation of Music Producers (FMPJ), Japanese Association of Music Enterprises (JAME), All-Japan Concert and Live Entertainment Promoters’ Conference (ACPC) and Computer Ticketing Council say #転売NO (pronounced “tenbaiNO” and translated as “#ResaleNO”) say ordinary music fans are being robbed of the chance to see live music by the resale of concert tickets, and express their concerns over the “huge profits” being earned by many large-scale touts.

Its manifesto, taken out as an ad in Japanese newspapers, is signed by 116 artists, including one of Japan’s most popular male ‘idol’ boybands, Arashi – who IQ reported in April were deploying facial-recognition technology to prevent ticket touting on their current tour – and veteran rock group Southern All Stars (pictured), and 24 festivals and live events, including Fuji Rock, Metrock, Air Jam, Rising Sun Rock Festival and Sweet Love Shower.

The launch of #ResaleNO follows that last month of the similar FanFair initiative in the UK, which is backed by a number of British artists, managers, agents and concert promoters.

“If tickets become more expensive due to malicious resale, that profit is not being utilised for the creation of new content”

Hidenori Nakai, executive director of JAME, says: “Tickets should be available at their regular price. If they become expensive due to malicious resale, [the profit] is not at all utilised for the creation of new content.

“We are deeply concerned about such a situation, and want to continue our efforts towards the eradication [of touting].”

Ike Mitsunori, president of FMPJ, adds that the secondary ticket market as it stands risks hurting the “good relationship between artists and music fans”.

According to the 2015 International Ticketing Yearbook, the most established secondary ticketing outlets in Japan include TicketStreet, Ticket Ryutsu Center, TicketCamp and internet auction sites such as Rakuten Auction and Yahoo Auction.


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LN Q1: Ticket resale still biggest growth area

Ticketmaster’s biggest-ever month and high-profile tours including Beyoncé’s Formation, Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams, Rihanna’s Anti, Drake’s Summer Sixteen and the Guns N’ Roses reunion contributed to double-digital revenue growth for Live Nation Entertainment in the first quarter (Q1) of 2016.

The multinational concert, ticketing, management and sponsorship giant reported a 10 per cent increase in revenue to US$1.2 billion and seven per cent rise in adjusted operating income in its Q1 financial results, released yesterday, although losses were also up: $34 million compared to $24m in Q1 2015.

Ticketmaster was the biggest success story of the three months up to 31 March, increasing its gross transaction value (GTV) by 18 per cent on a constant-currency basis, driven by continued strength in its ticket resale operations: GTV for Ticketmaster/Live Nation-owned secondary-ticketing marketplaces, such as TicketsNow and TicketsExchange in North America and Get Me In! and Seatwave in the UK, was up 43 per cent, reflecting a trend seen in Live Nation’s record-breaking 2015 yearly results.

Ticketmaster sold over 17 million tickets globally in February – its most in a single month ever.

In the concerts business, ticket sales for shows are up 10 per cent, with over 35 million already sold. Live Nation is also promoting 13 per cent more shows than in the same period last year

In the concerts business, ticket sales for shows are up 10 per cent on the last four months of 2015 (up to 29 April), with over 35 million already sold. Live Nation is also promoting 13 per cent more shows than in the same period last year.

“At the same time, we are expanding our global footprint, most recently adding South Africa as the 37th country we promote in and our acquisition of Founders Entertainmentwhich builds our presence in New York and adds Governors Ball to our global festival portfolio,” said CEO Michael Rapino in the earnings release.

The sponsorship/advertising business reported revenue growth of 13 per cent on a constant-currency basis.

Rapino concluded: “2016 is on track to be another year of growth and record results for the company. All of the leading indicators for our concerts, sponsorship and ticketing businesses are performing ahead of last year and we expect each of the businesses to deliver revenue, AOI and free cashflow growth this year.

“Our results are demonstrating the fundamental strength and growth trajectory of live events and Live Nation’s positioning to deliver long-term profit and cashflow growth.”