Who actually has your best interest at heart? Which of your favourite bands, singers, theater productions and sports teams want to provide the true fan with an experience of a lifetime for them? Do artists even benefit from touting anyway? Is touting even illegal?
The above answers are always slightly subjective. Yes, all artists will say that their fans are everything to them, but does “everything” equate solely to the bottom line? Taylor Swift may love her fans, and genuinely want the real supporters to be able to get to her gigs. However, by enforcing that one should spend extra on CDs and various other merch just to be put into a queue to potentially get the chance to get to a ‘Tay Tay’ gig, doesn’t really seem to align with that message. It’s easy to see where the management team and promoters have stepped in, seen a chance to head to the bank, and most certainly capitalised on it.
Blank space Taylor? More like blank cheque.
But price hiking for illicit profit is not just evident in music. In an unfortunate turn of events Ireland’s presence at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016 will trigger memories of fraud and white collar crime. At times this even cast a shadow over outstanding accomplishments from Annalise Murphy, the O’Donovan brothers (Gary & Paul), Thomas Barr and all other competitors. A quick search of “Ireland at the summer Olympics 2016” shows ticket scandal articles appear above athletes success in many instances.
The story of Ireland and the Olympic ticketing saga of 2016 was heavily discussed in the media here and abroad. You can read more about this particular incident here
Did Pat Hickey have attendees and sports fans best interest at heart? Almost certainly not.
White collar crime is nothing new to Ireland, and is an issue discussed as recently (26–1–18) when Paddy Cosgrave, CEO Web Summit, spoke about the relationship Ireland has with white collar crime on Ireland’s Late Late Show (see 1:20:20). However i digress, the real solution (and perhaps an element to the ultimate demise of Ireland’s 2023 rugby world cup bid) comes in the form of attaching a verified, transparent and world renowned ticketing company to each and every bid in an effort to eliminate cronyism. This is before the “street touts” have even got their hands on tickets, and there are already issues.
Tito, the hosts of the Web Summit's ticketing service, required a passport (i.d) check, and corresponding booking confirmation number with the collection of every Web Summit ticket. This proved fantastic at one of the world’s largest conferences, but isn’t a efficient blueprint for every type of event organisation.
Is this problem unique to Britain and Ireland?
Although elsewhere it may be referred to as gouging or scalping it is absolutely the same problem. The US has as much issues with illicit ticket overpricing in the secondary market as Britain and Ireland do. From being beaten in the race of refreshing and purchasing by bots, to browsing tickets at 10x on various secondary markets, the US in this instance is no different and if anything the issue is more severe. There are examples of artists such as Radiohead angrily commenting on the state of ticketing affairs in the industry and they are seeking alternatives.
Again, like Britain and Ireland, these issues are certainly not limited to music and are particularly prominent for the events such as the Superbowl or Broadway shows. Similarly in Australia there is significant evidence to support consumers perform in a very similar manner as they do in Britain. Even down as far as the acts in which touting is most prevalent. The good guy Ed Sheeran (of course no touting article would be complete without mentioning him).
Fyre festival was one of the biggest event travesties of 2017. In summary thousands of people paid between 1,500–12,000 USD for a festival in the Bahamas. This festival never materialised and attendees ended up stranded with no refunds, food or in some instances water. It sounds far too extreme for real life, but yes this did indeed happen. The organiser and owner of the festival was charged with fraud and sentenced to ten years in federal prison. This is certainly at the extreme end of event and ticketing fraud but a disaster that occurred nonetheless.
Spain and Italy have had enforced major fines onto some of their largest ticketing companies of recent times, showing their distaste and severe repercussions against ticket touting. As reported in IQ magazine, TicketOne were fined 1 million for failing to take adequate measures to prevent touting. A full European report is available here
Interestingly, from our research contacting various international ticketing companies touting isn’t the same large issue across northern mainland Europe such as Holland, Germany, Scandinavia and Belgium. There isn’t the same desire to rip people off for capitalistic gain as there is in the UK & Ireland and in America. However, that could also be attributed to the fact that some mainland Europe countries, such as Belgium, have had ticket touting laws in place for years. One hopes, that the successful implementation in other countries is a perfect indicator for future accomplishments here. As Stephen Donnelly is reported to saying it’s about creating a fair value culture.
So what’s being done about all of this?
This is where governments step in Noel Rock TD & Stephen Donnelly have bridged party boundaries and united to draft a bill against illicit ticket touting. Progress, yes indeed so, but how will this affect you? Rather than banning the secondary market altogether the new laws proposed price caps on resale markets, meaning you can still resell a ticket, but only at a reasonable fee. Ireland have indeed a vested interest for this to pass with a look to put a bid in place to host future international sports tournaments such as the Euros or a Rugby World Cup. This legislation looks to put Ireland in a stronger position when these bids are evaluated.
President Obama went as far as signing legislation to ban ticketing bots in late 2016 but what effect has this had? This report and legislation proposal states that “Bot use is a major reason why New Yorkers cannot get tickets at face value”. In reality it’s legally difficult to specify the the term “bots” and their mode of operation. Read more about bots in a previous Evopass article here
What about Google?
Google has now stated that they will enforce ticketing sites to make it known that they are a secondary market operator on Google’s homepage. This is to increase consumer knowledge and ultimately is a consumer protection mechanism. This will operate in a similar vein to the advertisement banner currently shown once you complete a Google search.
This has fairly significant consequences, as Google is the primary method of searching for tickets online and thus this new rule will be noticed by almost all consumers. In the past it has been the case that secondary sites, such as Viagogo, appear above the initial ticket seller in search results. This often leads to consumers buying directly from a secondary market, and often at an inflated price before the tickets are even sold out from the initial seller. At the moment when you search “Ed Sheeran Tickets” into google, the first researches turned are in fact for secondary market sites, often at extortionate prices. This certainly doesn’t have the fans best interests at heart
There is also new rules being put in place around final price disclosure “The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said they had not been clear enough about extra fees added at the end of the booking.” This means that people will not be confused about the amount they are actually spending, booking fees included.
All steps in the right direction.
Some artists have had enough, are fed up with the current system and are aiming to accelerate actions for fairer markets. Several artists are spearheading the anti touting movement with Adele, Chance the Rapper, Ed Sheeran, LCD Soundsystem and Radiohead being a selection of the most outspoken. Adele took matters into her own hands by removing accounts believed to be touts and requiring an ID check upon entry to match purchaser to attendee. This is the same method invoked by Ed Sheeran, yet its suitability and feasibility is certainly questionable. Rag n Bone man speaks passionately on the topic of ticket touting “I get heartbreaking messages from fans who can’t afford tickets at inflated prices. I want to be able to do something.”
Quite astonishingly Chance the rapper actually went as far as to buy back the tickets from touts so he was then able to sell them back at the correct prices to genuine fans. This act definitely cements Chance as an artist who genuinely does care about his fans, but then again he did get a lot of excellent PR off the back of what the cynics would call a ‘stunt’.
In summary it still seems cloudy? Some artists really do seem to care but is this reflected by their management? Others will just ride the wave of press hype and hope news articles about demand for their shows drive up purchases for their next tour. As long as there are still so many chains within the music industry tickets will still remain expensive. While there isn’t verified and price controlled secondary markets for each event, illicit resale will still take place under unknown circumstances.
In the words of Rag ’n’ bone man “It’s not the crime of the century but someone has to come up with a system that makes it more and more difficult” this is where Evopass is stepping in and setting the a benchmark for authorised resale.
Look to Evopass.io for more information