Friday round-up: world news in brief
Welcome to IQ‘s brand-new weekly round-up of news from around the world. Here, in bite-sized chunks, we present a selection of international stories you may have missed from the last seven days…
Vince Power Music Group (VPMG) has announced AXS as its official ticketing partner for all its London venues after inking a new five-year deal. VPMG venues include: the former Dingwalls, PowerHaus (cap. 500), The Fiddler (cap. 120), Nells (cap. 350) and Subterania (cap. 600). AXS is the official ticketing partner for several UK venues including The O2, The SSE Arena, Wembley, Dreamland Margate, British Summertime Hyde Park, All Points East and AEG Presents’ touring business.
European showcase festival and conference Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) in Groningen has moved entirely online from 19–22 January 2022 in response to the government’s the latest Covid-19 measures. The digital edition will include a conference programme as well as the festival programmes of Noorderslag, Eurosonic and the Music Moves Europe Awards award ceremony.
Foo Fighters say they have axed a 2022 tour date due to the venue’s “refusal to agree to the band’s Covid safety measures”. The band were due to play Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on 3 August, but are now looking for a replacement venue. A spokesperson for the University of Minnesota, which operates the venue, said its current measures relating to vaccines and mask-wearing were in line with state and federal guidelines, and declined to change its existing protocols for large events.
CTS Eventim is acquiring regional ticketing providers in the Rhineland region, Kölnticket and Bonnticket. The companies previously belonged to media houses Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger Medien in Cologne and Rheinische Post Mediengruppe in Düsseldorf, and had previously partnered with CTS on ticketing software and platform technology. The deal will give CTS Eventim a significant presence in the region as well as numerous contacts in the local entertainment scene.
The British Music Embassy has announced its live return to South By Southwest (SXSW) with its biggest presence yet. The intimate 250-person UK music showcase will return in 2022 with a capacity of 700 at Cedar Street Courtyard, an open-air SXSW venue, from 14-20 March. It will be the first in-person British Music Embassy since 2019 as the 2020 edition of SXSW was one of the first major festivals to be cancelled due to Covid-19.
The ASM Global-managed, Arena Oberhausen in Germany is to be renamed after 20 years as the Konig Pilsener Arena. From next year, the 12,650-capacity venue will be known as Rudolf Weber Arena, in the largest naming rights deal in the Oberhausen-based venue’s 25-year history.
Five more names have been confirmed for Rock Werchter 2022. The War On Drugs will play the Festivalpark on Thursday 30 June. Lewis Capaldi and Greta Van Fleet join the line-up for Friday 1 July, Yungblud is scheduled for Saturday July 2 and Royal Blood will put in an appearance on Sunday 3 July. Headlined by Pearl Jam, Metallica, Imagine Dragons and Red Hot Chili Pepper, the festival runs from 30 June to 2 July.
Two internet ticket touts sentenced to a combined six-and-a-half years in prison following a landmark court case have failed in their appeals against their conviction for fraudulent trading. Peter Hunter and David Smith, who operated as the company BZZ Limited, were jailed for four years and 30 months, respectively, in February 2020 following an investigation by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, and trail at Leeds Crown Court. The pair committed offences between May 2010 and December 2017, making a net profit of £3.5 million in the last two years of fraud alone, buying and reselling tickets to concerts by artists including Ed Sheeran, McBusted, Taylor Swift and Coldplay. On the appeal Smith and Hunter raised a large number of legal and procedural grounds. They appealed the verdict, alleging the judge wrongly directed the jury on the law and “acted unfairly and prejudicially in his conduct of the trial”, arguing the restrictions attaching to the sale of the tickets were “void and invalid”. However, the Court of Appeal rejects their appeals, upholding the conclusion of the judge at trial that the restrictions imposed by event organisers were valid, adding the judge “acted properly in all relevant respects and that the convictions are safe and lawful”.
Irish-headquartered Tixserve has partnered with UK ticket agency Gigantic to provide a “secure and interactive digital ticket fulfilment service” for its live entertainment ticketing. The partnership will see Irish-Headquartered Tixserve provide Gigantic with a white label digital ticketing app – delivering via a full API technical integration, a sophisticated and seamless fulfilment service for Gigantic clients and customers.
International booking agency Midnight Mango has announced four new agents – Nigel Morton, Addison Paterson, Sam Bryant and Hanna Bright – after initiating an Agent Freelancer Platform in the early days of the pandemic. After delivering training and guidance to four agents back in the spring, the firm took on a further four new agents in September. The new appointments work with acts such as Gretchen Peters, Bicurious, Dom Martin and The Kakatsitsi Master Drummers, expanding the agency’s roster to more than 150 artists, represented by a 15-strong workforce.
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The innovators: 2019’s ticketing pioneers
Technology and ticketing go hand-in-hand and, in recent years, an increasing number of companies have developed innovative solutions to make the ticketing sector more secure and sophisticated for event organisers, venue operators and fans alike.
As part of the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019 (ITY), IQ talks to ticketing companies Oxynade, Tixserve, Protect Group, Activity Stream, Queue-it, Ticketline, Ticketplan, Gigantic, the Ticket Factory, Ticketmaster, Tickets.ie and FanDragon Technologies to gain a deeper insight into the most significant technological advances affecting the industry today.
The white-label ticketing partner offers an all-round system that includes a fully equipped back office, box office and specialised features covering a broad range of verticals, meaning ticketing companies don’t need to take on the cost and resources of setting up their own platform. The company’s eTicketing as a service (eTaaS) solution launched in 2017 and already has a global clientele.
Recently the Belgium-based company has invested heavily in improving its offer from an UI and UX perspective, with clear flows for ticket-buyers. It has also updated its API integration to enable clients to use their own Payment Service Provider (PSP). This means people can not only pay using their preferred PSP, but ticketers can offer bundles such as merch, food coupons or travel services, which can drive up revenues. Furthermore, the upgraded API offers ticket-buyers the opportunity to complete purchases using other forms of payment, such as gift vouchers, pre-charged cards or even ‘event currency’.
In September 2018, the firm launched its inaugural eTaaS Summit in Germany, which drew almost 50 delegates from 14 countries for networking and insightful panels. The event will take place again in April 2020, with a new approach. “We want to go really in-depth,” says company spokesperson Hannah Coekaerts. “We’re inviting international clients and top-notch speakers.”
The Belgium-based company has invested heavily in improving its offer from an UI and UX perspective, with clear flows for ticket-buyers
The B2B, Software-as-a-Service, white-label, ticket fulfilment company enables its clients to deliver secure digital tickets to their customers’ mobile phones.
Tixserve launched in the UK in 2017, and managing director Patrick Kirby says that its focus on solving problems for clients and doing trials with potential clients is now delivering strong growth for the company.
In April 2019, the company announced a partnership with UK entertainment retailer HMV to help with its diversification into live events. Tixserve worked with HMV to deliver signing sessions with US band Twenty One Pilots at six stores. The events took place during the UK leg of the band’s Bandito tour and were fully digitally ticketed. Passes were sold by HMV as part of a bundle with the band’s fifth album, Trench.
In the run-up to the events, touts were advertising yet-to-be-activated Tixserve tickets online for up to £200 – a mark-up of more than 1000% on the album/ticket bundle. When fans alerted HMV of these cases, organisers were able to disable all ticket transfer functionality, unless authorised, on a case-by-case basis, by using Tixserve’s technology.
In July 2019, Tixserve announced a multiyear agreement with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for the provision of secure digital ticket delivery services for Twickenham Stadium, the home of England Rugby. The competitive tendering process involved extensive trials with full system testing at numerous events to validate the Tixserve digital ticket fulfilment solution, which included the ability to operate with the existing infrastructure at Twickenham Stadium provided by Ticketmaster and Fortress.
“Tixserve will be announcing a number of other high-profile client deals in the second half of 2019, in the music, theatre, and sports segments of the live events market”
Speaking after the deal, Kirby said: “Tixserve will be announcing a number of other high-profile client deals in the second half of 2019, in the music, theatre, and sports segments of the live events market. We are excited by the scale of opportunity of working with the RFU and the momentum of this success has already opened up business development opportunities for Tixserve not just in the UK and Ireland but in Europe, the USA and Asia.”
Market interest in digital ticketing has significantly increased over the last 12 months, to the extent that Tixserve is now handling a large volume of inbound enquiries from potential clients. Kirby says: “We are not in the business of selling ‘technology’ to clients but instead we focus on understanding the needs of potential clients and solving their business problems with a software platform that uses proven, high-performance and cost-effective enabling technologies.”
He also cautions against the hype associated with many start-up, technology- led companies setting out to ‘disrupt’ an industry such as the live event ticketing sector. “Tixserve’s mission is to add value to the live events industry by enabling its clients to gain business benefits from the adoption of digital ticketing including convenience for customers, security, authorised ticket exchange, lower costs, ‘know your customer’ data capture, and new digital commerce revenue streams that have the potential to transform the ticket into a profit centre.”
Protect Group provides innovative event cancellation protection and refund protection to all sizes and types of ticketing companies, platforms, events, venues, sports teams and more.
“We developed our solutions to not only provide the broadest and most comprehensive protection to our members and their ticket buyers, but also to generate new revenue streams to tackle rising costs and reduced margins for events,” says Ben Lenighan, head of commercial partnerships at Protect Group.
Protect Group first experienced success with Event Protect, their event cancellation protection, which was primarily for ticketing companies but also allowed organisers to reduce their financial risk and be assured their events were protected. This was due to increasing cancellation risks globally, as well as demand for a quicker and a more cost-effective insurance solution of this type.
Soon after, Refund Protect was created after the company saw the chance to create a more consumer-centric refund protection product for ticketing companies.
Ticketing companies integrate Event Protect and Refund Protect via a simple API, which allows sales transactions to be underwritten by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, Tokio Marine HCC and Swiss Re – three of the largest insurance providers.
“We developed our solutions to not only provide the broadest and most comprehensive protection to our members and their ticket buyers, but also to generate new revenue streams to tackle rising costs and reduced margins for events”
Protect Group says this means events and attendees have the best protection in place without admin work required from the organiser and/or ticketing company and with no upfront costs.
Since inception Protect Group says it has underwritten millions of transactions, handling the entire refund process for ticketing companies and events.
Lenighan continues, “The key is to refund attendees quickly and transparently, either if the event cancels or if the attendee themselves cannot attend the event due to unforeseen circumstances. We do this within seven days, with an average refund time globally of four days, to ensure that attendees are kept satisfied and negative social media impact is reduced.”
Based in Leeds, UK, Protect Group has members in over 25 different countries. It is opening international business hubs in North America, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Oceania as part of a global expansion resulting from an increase in demand.
The aim of Activity Stream is to make data accessible and valuable to the layman, so people can understand important information relating to ticket sales without needing a data science qualification.
When it comes to analysing data, most organisations are left with two choices: working manually with reporting tools and making lists and reports in Excel, or (for the major organisations only) investing in building your own data warehouse combining data from multiple sources. But that’s a multiyear project, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and takes up key resources.
“We launched the company based on a middle way, a model of SaaS,” says Martin Gammeltoft. “We used AI, cluster analysis and weak-pattern recognition that you wouldn’t get by working in Excel, and built an AI model to predict ticket sales.
“Our AI is trained on multiple data sets rather than solely based on the one organisation’s it’s plugged into, so it’s able to help people straight away.
“It looks at things like whether some categories are moving faster than others, are you attracting lots of first-time buyers to specific events; it combines the ticket sales information and the digital side of things so you can look at the effect of campaigns. You can see ticket sales in real time but also see where they are coming from – whether it’s a Facebook campaign or mail-out or from one of your partners.”
“AI is like someone who has 40 years’ experience in the industry at 16 different venues – they can’t specifically email one person, but they apply their knowledge to their latest job”
The resulting easy-to-understand platform gives powerful insights that help improve marketing, planning, saves time and improves revenues, says Gammeltoft.
“The nature of AI is that you can train the model on data sets, and then transfer the learning to other organisations. So you never see a competitor’s data or use it, but the AI has learned from many sets. It’s like someone who has 40 years’ experience in the industry at 16 different venues – they can’t specifically email one person, but they apply their knowledge to their latest job. The AI learns from patterns but it’s not bringing specific consumers’ information or sales or events.
“It can tell you things like 92% of your Facebook sales are a particular demographic, so maybe you need to adjust that, or that a particular high-value customer hasn’t bought a ticket in 16 months but has suddenly come back.”
Gammeltoft, who has a background in economics, believes these AI-assisted insights will have a profound effect on the industry because they can identify things a human might not notice.
Clients include AXS, The Shubert Organization and London’s Barbican Centre.
Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of ITY 2019, or subscribe to the magazine here
Irish ticketer Tixserve lands Twickenham deal
Mobile, white-label ticketing platform Tixserve has announced a multi-year partnership with London’s Twickenham Stadium.
The ticketing company will now deliver all tickets for Rugby Football Union (RFU) matches at the stadium.
The partnership follows a trial period that tested the compatibility of Tixserve software with existing ticketing infrastructure at Twickenham, provided by Ticketmaster and Fortress.
The Tixserve system prevents the unauthorised resale of tickets and provides customers with maps and directions, match or show day real-time updates and targeted mobile marketing. The service also collects data for venue operators.
Tixserve managing director and co-founder Pat Kirby says he is “delighted” to have secured RFU as a flagship client.
“We can provide the best secure digital ticketing solution for the RFU and its clubs, as well as concert promoters and music fans”
Kirby adds that the “close working relationship” between Tixserve and RFU “means that we can provide the best secure digital ticketing solution for the RFU and its clubs, sponsors and supporters, as well as concert promoters and music fans who also use the world-famous Twickenham Stadium.”
Twickenham presented its biggest-ever live music programme last summer, with shows from the Rolling Stones and Eminem.
“This is an important strategic agreement for the RFU as more and more fans now expect the convenience of being able to use their mobile devices to access events,” says RFU commercial officer Simon Massie-Taylor.
“We believe this service will greatly enhance the experience at Twickenham Stadium.”
Tixserve partnered with Ireland’s largest independent ticketing company, Tickets.ie, in April 2018. According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018, Tickets.ie processes more than 2.7 million tickets annually for over 6,000 events.
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Tixserve partners with leading indie Tickets.ie
Paperless ticket fulfilment platform Tixserve has collaborated with Irish ticket provider tickets.ie to power the company’s mobile ticket service.
The Republic of Ireland’s largest independent ticket provider, tickets.ie processes 2.7 million tickets a year, including for some of the country’s biggest stadium events. The company’s main sales come from the website, which garners 9.1m impressions annually, and its 370 retail outlets dotted around Ireland.
The partnership between the two companies will allow tickets.ie customers to utilise the branded and content-rich digital ticket that is sent straight to their mobile device.
“It’s great to be able to partner with such a dynamic company”
Tixserve’s service incorporates its ‘track-and-trace’ technology to help combat ticket fraud, creating a secure and hassle-free experience for the customer without the postage, packaging and production costs of using paper tickets. The service also helps to control the bulk-buying of tickets for resale – currently a hot-button issue in Ireland.
Commenting on the partnership, Tixserve’s MD, Patrick Kirby, says: “It’s great to be able to partner with such a dynamic company that has strong footholds across the Irish live entertainment industries.”
Tixserve recently appointed Tim Chambers, formerly a Live Nation/Ticketmaster exec and now an independent consultant, as a board member.
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Tim Chambers joins Tixserve
Leading industry consultant Tim Chambers has joined the board of Tixserve, the white-label digital ticketing company has announced.
Chambers has worked in the live entertainment market for more than 20 years, having previously held the post of VP of European development at Ticketmaster and SVP of international corporate development for Live Nation Entertainment. He is also the founder of TicketWeb in the UK and executive editor of IQ’s International Ticketing Yearbook.
Tixserve, which launched last February, is the developer of a B2B digital ticket fulfilment solution for ticketing platforms and retailers. Its proprietary ‘track-and-trace’ technology promises to tackle problem of ticket resale for high-profile events by enabling organisers to know for certain who exactly is holding a ticket. It also empowers artists, promoters and sports event organisers to decide whether a ticket can be exchanged or resold.
Dublin-based Tixserve has secured €250,000 in funding from Enterprise Ireland as part of its High Potential Start-up (HPSU) programme. One of the company’s private investors, meanwhile, is Sir Michael Smurfit, one of Ireland’s most successful businessmen.
“The live entertainment sector is often slow to adopt the benefits of new technologies,” comments Chambers, who also a non-executive director of Evvnt, Make it Social and TickX.
“Tim brings a rich international experience and will help to steer the company as we target large global opportunities”
“It no longer makes sense to rely solely on paper tickets – especially when you look at the tremendous capabilities of a secure Tixserve digital ticket. The future of ticketing must incorporate seamless digital distribution with mobile authentication, and enhanced consumer services including event timings, line-ups and biographies, location maps and added value merchandise up-sale opportunities. Tixserve does all of this and more.”
Adds Tixserve managing director and co-founder Patrick Kirby: “The Tixserve digital ticket fulfilment platform is a secure white-label solution that can be used by existing ticket sellers to enhance the experience for ticket-purchasers, reduce costs and generate new revenue streams.
“Since our launch in 2017, we have successfully concluded a number of extensive private field trials with well-known venues and ticket agents in the United Kingdom and [Republic of] Ireland and we look forward to announcing details of commercial partnerships with these clients very soon.
“Tim Chambers brings a rich international experience and will help to steer the company as we target large global opportunities in the live event ticketing industry.”
Forget politicians: The biz must take control of ticketing
This year we’ve seen lawmakers around the world commit to the banning of ticket bots, marking a positive stride in the fight against firms that hoover up primary tickets with the intention of reselling them at four or five times the face value.
Laws against such practices will make it harder for these large-scale ticket touts to operate, but, as the record business has learnt over the past decade in its battle against piracy, the legislative route is often long, littered with pitfalls and usually only provides a partial solution.
Record execs will remember the headaches that surrounded the implementation of the Digital Economy Act in 2010 and are more likely to point to platforms like Spotify and Apple Music as the primary drivers of legitimate music consumption in a new digital landscape – although work to stamp out copyright infringement is, of course, still ongoing.
Legislation is a positive show of intent but its practical effectiveness hinges on how it is implemented and enforced in the real world. The Tixserve team has a history in the card payment and mobile top-up sectors, and we’ve seen how the targets of anti-abuse measures will often find ways to circumvent checks and blocks to continue earning their ill-gotten gains.
We also need to think about who is going to build the fences that keep touts out. Again, look to similar discussions elsewhere in the music biz, with rightsholders, legislators, ISPs and platforms such as YouTube constantly bickering over whose job it is to make sure copyrights are protected online. The job of enforcement is often passed on to parties who are less than willing to allocate resources to the task, reducing what could be tough legislation to lame-duck lip service.
But the music business doesn’t have to rely on outsiders to reclaim ticketing revenue while creating a compelling user experience. We’ve seen Team Sheeran recently track down and cancel thousands of tickets being flogged by online touts. But our industry is seeing the emergence of next-generation ‘track-and-trace’ paperless ticketing that can stamp out abuse and fraud from the off, regardless of legislation.
While the backing of lawmakers is welcome, the music business’s most effective response to challenges has always been to take matters into its own hands
Tixserve’s paperless ticket-fulfilment platform uses a triple-lock system that links the ticket to a buyer’s name, their phone and their phone’s unique ID, leaving no way through for touts/bots and fraudsters. And it provides this cast-iron security while improving the experience and flow of fans as they pass through the gates at venues without the hassle of having to produce credit cards and photo ID.
Crucially, Tixserve is a white-label platform, which means we put our technology into the hands of rightsholders, venues, ticket agents, D2C platforms – whoever wants to manage their ticket fulfilment in a modern, intelligent, secure and streamlined way. Tixserve technology allows the rights owner(s) of an event to permit ticket resale or not. Any resale would be controlled and regulated in a transparent and ethical manner by the right owner(s) via the configurable Tixserve platform. Unlike existing paper tickets, the secure Tixserve digital tickets cannot be resold or transferred without the permission of the rights owner(s).
But security isn’t the only factor the live business needs to consider when it comes to reclaiming control over the ticketing sector. With the right tech, the live industry can go a step further and redefine what a ticket is in the modern era.
Through branded apps and portals powered by technology, fans are able to connect with artists and gain access to exclusive opportunities and merchandise. Meanwhile, ticket sellers are able to capture an unprecedented level of consumer data allowing for direct marketing that will drive further sales and revenue.
The music industry, as a whole, has faced challenging times in recent years, as outsiders have sought to use new technology to scalp revenue from creators and the teams that support them. While the backing of lawmakers is important and welcome, the music business’s most effective response to these threats has always been to harness technology itself and take matters into its own hands.
Patrick Kirby is managing director of white-label paperless ticketing platform Tixserve.
Ticket bots: Hidden menace or red herring?
While ticket bots – automated software used to hoover up concert tickets to then resell – remain legal in most of the world, the last 12 months have seen official sentiment in several major markets shift towards prohibition.
The state of New York was the first to criminalise the usage of bots, with legislation introduced by Carl Heastie and Marcos Crespo providing for up to a year in prison for offenders. The Canadian province of Ontario followed suit in September, and the US as a whole outlawed bots in December with then-president Barack Obama’s signing of the Better Online Ticket Sales – or Bots – Act into law.
The vast majority of those working in the live music industry agree on the need for a ban on bots – including, tellingly, secondary ticketing giants StubHub and Ticketmaster (Seatwave, Ticketmaster Resale, TicketExchange, Get Me In!) – but there are concerns among some anti-touting activists that a singular focus on bots could detract from the conversation around what they see as a fundamentally broken ticketing market.
Speaking to the UK parliament committee on ‘ticket abuse’ earlier this month, Rob Wilmshurst, CEO of Vivendi Ticketing/See Tickets – which recently launched its own face-value ticket exchange, Fan2Fan – said he believes bots have been a “red herring” in the debate over secondary ticketing in the UK. “We’ve added more technology to thwart them [bots], but we don’t see conversion rates dropping,” he told MPs.
Similarly, Adam Webb, of anti-secondary campaign group FanFair Alliance, responded to the US’s bot ban with a note of caution, highlighting that the legislation was “supported by companies who run secondary ticketing services, and who benefit directly from mass-scale ticket touting”.
Are ticket bots, then, a straw man on which the big secondaries are happily pinning the blame for headline-grabbing $3,000 Adele tickets, or could a global ban on bots actually be effective in eliminating price-gouging in the secondary market?
“Bots aren’t the only way tickets end up on the secondary market”
Reg Walker, of events security firm Iridium, says any legal initiatives aimed at combatting bots “can only be a good thing”. He concedes that while there are “systemic problems in the ticket industry as a whole”, including ticket agencies with a “foot in both camps” (primary and secondary), “any legislation that goes any way towards levelling the playing field must be welcomed”.
Walker cautions, however, that “legislation is only as good as the amount of enforcement that goes into supporting it”. A major problem with the law in the UK, he tells IQ, is that the onus is on secondary sites themselves to report attempts to buy tickets using bots: “Is there any incentive to report bot attacks when the same company may well end up, by intention or inadvertently, being a net beneficiary of that activity?” he asks.
The chief executive of the UK’s Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), Jonathan Brown, agrees on the importance of ticketing sites reporting all bot attacks. “Bots are certainly one way that touts get hold of tickets, and it’s great that there is action specifically on this issue,” he explains. “However, we have always said that this also needs to go alongside far greater understanding and technical defences against such attacks – and, of course, a need for attacks or suspected attacks to be reported.”
Legislation targeting bots is a “great first step”, says Ant Taylor, the founder and CEO of Lyte, which powers the new ‘fan-to-fan’ ticket exchange from Ticketfly, a supporter of the bot ban in the US. “The public has experienced longstanding frustration from not having access to tickets for their favourite artists, or having to pay exorbitant prices to do so.”
Taylor highlights the importance of fans genuinely unable to attend a show having a “viable technological alternative”, such as Ticketfly/Lyte, to resell their ticket. “We’ve integrated Lyte directly with a primary ticketing company,” he continues, “so their venue and promoter partners now have complete control of the fan experience. This keeps the money in the hands of those who contribute to these incredible live event experiences and away from scalpers who purely profit off them.”
Patrick Kirby, managing director of recently launched white-label platform Tixserve, cautions that overemphasis on bots could lead to a spike in “low-tech” crime such as counterfeiting. “An unintended consequence of the ban on bots might be an increase in the fraudulent duplication or counterfeiting of tickets, which is a low-tech activity when tickets continue to be paper-based,” he tells IQ.
“Professional touts already use other, non-bot, methods of acquiring primary tickets for the secondary market”
Kirby says the effectiveness of banning bots will depend largely on the “extent to which bot operators will seek to circumvent the new legislation. The previous experience of the Tixserve team in the card payments and mobile-airtime distribution sectors is that the targets of anti-abuse measures always look to find creative ways of protecting their lucrative, ill-gotten incomes. Sometimes, it can be akin to pinning down a lump of jelly.”
Walker believes, however, that it’s extremely easy to tell when a site has fallen victim to a bot attack.
“We live in a technological age, and there is an overdependence on computer programs and algorithms to detect this activity,” he comments. Bot attacks are “so easy to spot on primary ledgers”, says Walker – providing ticket agencies actually take the time to look. “We haven’t found a single case, bar one, where a primary or secondary ticket agent has gone to police or Trading Standards and asked them to investigate,” he explains.
“Bottom line: it [banning bots] is not a silver bullet,” comments Adam Webb, who as FanFair campaign manager welcomed plans by the British government to ban bots as part of its implementation of the Waterson report.
“Moves by government[s to] criminalise the misuse of technology to bulk-buy tickets are an important and welcome step,” Webb tells IQ. “However […] not every tout has this sort of software in their armoury. There are many alternative ways to access large volumes of inventory…
“That’s why FanFair, in our response, was keen to give equal weight to the other elements of government’s announcement, particularly the blanket acceptance of Professor Waterson’s recommendations and suggestion of further actions to improve transparency in this market. (Waterson’s recommendations largely centre on proper reinforcement of the 2015 Consumer Rights Act, which obliges resellers to list the original face value, seat/row numbers and any ticket restrictions.)
“Bottom line: It is not a silver bullet”
Kirby adds that banning bots ignores “professional touts [who] already use other non-bot methods of acquiring primary tickets for placement on the secondary market”. In response to bot bans, resellers could, says Kirby, “ramp up the practice of using teams of people masquerading as genuine fans to buy significant amounts of tickets using multiple identities, addresses and credit cards”.
Stuart Cain, managing director of NEC Group’s The Ticket Factory, agrees with Walker that “banning bots is just one part of a much wider story”, but says any legislation “that allows for greater transparency in the market and help to stop fans being conned is a positive”. “There’s still a way to go, but [banning bots] is a promising first step when it comes to the industry finally cleaning up its act,” he comments.
While Walker praises the recent raft of anti-bot measures as “fantastic” – and the recent British legislation, in particular, as having real “teeth” – he warns against the tendency to think of banning ticket bots as a panacaea to sky-high prices on the secondary market.
“The danger is that while we have all this focus on bots and software, the other structural issues in ticketing could be ignored,” he concludes. “Bots aren’t the only way tickets end up on the secondary market.”
Tixserve launches as Autonomy Music turns 10
Tixserve, a mobile white-label ticketing platform which aims to provide ticket sellers with improved data capture while eliminating fraud and unauthorised resale, launched officially last night at Autonomy Music’s 10th birthday showcase.
The party, at recently opened South Bank venue Omeara, saw Tixserve act as the label services group’s ticketing partner, and follows earlier trials at other London venues.
Speaking to IQ before the event, Tixserve managing director Patrick Kirby – who founded the company with chief revenue officer Simon Goodale, a former colleague at Payzone – said he was inspired to develop the technology after being stung by a fake Rolling Stones ticket bought from a secondary site.
Unlike platforms such as Dice (which Kirby calls a “great app” and says “could be a partner in future”), Tixserve doesn’t sell tickets itself, instead offering “ticket agents, venues, promoters, D2C [direct-to-consumer] players and other ticket sellers a white-label toolkit that will help beat secondary ticketing bots and fraudsters whilst enhancing customer experience” – making it, in the words of the launch blurb, “the world’s first end-to-end ticketing fulfilment platform”.
Eliminating ticket touting is, however, only part of the solution – and only if those using Tixserve actually want to, Kirby explains. “We’re the Switzerland of digital ticketing!” he says, alluding to the company’s reluctance to wade into the heated secondary ticketing debate. “We’ve made a solution that lets people address those problems if they want to.”
“We look forward to working with those in the music business who want to tackle some of the biggest problems facing the live industry”
Just as important, says Kirby, is the data capture aspect. Part of it is a patented API, he explains, that pops ups up during the check-out process and, “without jeopardising the sale of the ticket, lets people add names of other people who may be attending. It also monitors [ticket-buying] behaviour over time – it’s a bit like having a loyalty scheme, but a lot more sophisticated.”
For those worried about the take-up of paperless ticketing owing to the fact that phones do things like run out of battery or get lost, Kirby says Tixserve also has that covered. “We’ve developed the ultimate fallback: Providing you’re not so stoned out of your mind you can’t remember your phone number,” he jokes, “just quote it to the guy on the door – you don’t even have to go the box office – and he can search it in the app.” For those who are forgetful (stoned or otherwise), their name or ID will work, too.
“Tixserve is a better way of doing paperless ticketing,” Kirby says in a launch statement. “Unlike current offerings in this space, our solution doesn’t involve costly and slow blanket photo ID and credit card checks at the event venue. This means the system is simple and inexpensive for venues, and customers are able to get through the gates quickly – all without sacrificing cast-iron security measures that will stop bots, duplicators and fraudsters in their tracks.
“We look forward to working with those in the music business who want to tackle some of the biggest problems facing the live industry while at the same time improving the experience of music fans.”