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UK concert ticket industry whinges about the Internet

The UK concert ticket industry is whinging about people re-selling concert tickets on the Internet. They want the government to make the practice illegal.

Fortunately the government aren’t having any of it, well so far anyway. It’s all come about because the government is going to be adding law to the statute books to stop the reselling/touting of 2012 London Olympics tickets (adding it to football match tickets, which are also illegal to tout under UK law). UK concert promoters and organisers want their events also added as a type of ticket that the public cannot resell.

Jonathan Brown, secretary of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (UK) moaned:

“The internet has exacerbated the problem [of ticket reselling] enormously because it’s given everybody the potential to re-sell tickets”

So let me the get this straight: Their beef is that they don’t like the fact suddenly individuals have more opportunities with what they do with their tickets? It sounds to me they don’t like the fact that people are making a profit from re-selling tickets that they would much rather be able to make themselves.

(Working on the assumption that if people weren’t allowed to resell or auction tickets themselves, the ticket agencies – as official vendors – could jump in and service that market demand directly)

Like many examples of where an industry simply doesn’t like the public playing them at their own game, they’ve come up with the usual torrent of excuses, including:

“While that may seem like a wonderful commercial opportunity, what’s actually happening is quite the opposite in some cases, with people not receiving tickets.”

So they do, at least, admit that they are eyeing this up as a commercial opportunity (which would then only be able to be exploited by them). But the point about people not receiving their tickets – that could be said about anything sold on eBay (most of these tickets are sold on eBay). If receiving your item is the problem, maybe they should just get eBay to be shut down entirely?

C’mon, I’ve bought loads of concert tickets from eBay (often for less than the face value) and never had a problem. What makes me angry is the lack of honest and integrity in why the ticket industry would want such legislation to be bought about.

Peter Tudor, head of Wembley Arena and chairman of the National Arenas Association, weighed in with the following observation:

“[online touting] is making the whole experience of getting a ticket and going to a gig much less exciting and rather more anxious than it ought to be for people.”

Is it? I would have thought it’s increasing the opportunity of going to see the gig…

If you weren’t able to get a ticket from the box office when they went on sale (so many concerts sell out in minutes) then you’ve got a second choice. And as for making it less exciting, buying tickets online gives you the opportunity to choose where you want to sit as invariably auctions for tickets will state where the tickets are seated (something you rarely get to choose, especially for arena tours, when you buy tickets from the box office directly).

So my message to the concert ticket industry is this: For starters, have the decency to be up front with why you want this kind of legislation to be put in place – it’s because you are peeved you’re not collecting all profits from the sale of tickets. Clearly if there wasn’t the demand for re-sold tickets, there wouldn’t be a problem. Why don’t you concentrate on looking at how you can address the issues that have caused this demand? Why don’t you look at the opportunities the internet affords in solving some of these problems, in the same way that these individuals are capitalising on it? Here are some ideas:

  • Issue: Many people buy touted tickets because they couldn’t get tickets in the first place. Solution: Official ticket vendors, why not make your websites more resilient so that they don’t go down the moment tickets for big events go on sale?
  • Issue: The ticket industry is frustrated that people will pay above face-value for a ticket, but that they are not seeing any of that money. Solution:Why don’t you auction a percentage of each concert’s ticket officially? Or live the with the fact that you can’t expect to have 100% of the cake.
  • Issue: Some people buy re-sold tickets because they want to be able to choose exactly where they sit (especially at venues like Wembley Arena, where 80% of the seating is shite because it doesn’t face the stage). Solution:Offer people the ‘value’ of being able to choose the exact seat they sit in when they are buying concert tickets

If these issues were addressed, I believe much of the touting would go away as people would be able to get hold of the tickets they want directly from the ticket vendors.

Published in Thoughts and Rants


  1. Issue: people are willing to buy tickets for five times the face value (or more) when they can’t get them in the initial sale because the demand is too high.

    Solution: increase the prices of all tickets by double or more. That way, the tickets won’t sell out so fast and people will be able to buy them at the box office?

    Satisfied with that answer? The fact is, if big shows followed ‘market forces’ they’d be able to massively increase ticket prices and still pack the punters in. Why don’t they do that? Coz it’d be horrendously bad PR if fans couldn’t get to your gig for under £200. Whilst I’m not suggesting that big shows aren’t after big profits, they do often try to keep ticket prices down to ‘sensible’ levels. Glastonbury could price their tickets at £500 a pop, but it’d hardly be in the spirit of the festival…

    Ticket touts who buy hundreds of tickets in order to fleece dedicated fans who just couldn’t happen to be online at the right time are just spoiling it for everyone.

    I’m not saying that individuals who have bought a ticket but can’t make it shouldn’t be able to sell it on, but I think you do have to acknowledge that there is a problem, and none of your solutions are that satisfactory.

    Glastonbury took some good steps last year by requiring a debit card, 2 tickets-per-card, printing names on tickets and checking ID on entrance. But they still managed to underestimate the demand and their servers fell over. Yeah, they should have had a better plan, but it would have required a lot more investment.

    Your third issue is a good point, but the others don’t really address the problem.

    One solution is to hold a draw for tickets (like Wimbledon), but I imagine that it’s quite a nightmare to administrate…

  2. Lee Lee

    There’s already a huge problem with ticket touting, and the argument above about increasing prices simply isn’t true. Whilst you get a few hard-core types who’ll pay anything for a ticket for their favourite band or whatever, 99% of us would balk at a £2-300 price tag for any gig. Glastonbury would be empty if it’s price doubled. Just because an event sells out at a given price doesn’t mean there’s huge room for growth, that’s a poor economic argument.

    The only reason most things sell out so quickly is because touts already buy hundreds of tickets for an event straight away, and then re-sell them on places like eBay. Ban it I say, unfortunately it’s the only answer. Anyone who’s been to a big music gig or football match is surely aware of the huge number of these scum who buy tickets to re-sell them at twice the price. Unfortunately I even know of one individual who doubles his annual income in this way. Wan*er…..

  3. ed knight ed knight

    Going slightly off the subject here (but only slightly) I had a bad experience with some music software I bought.

    I bought it, took it home, installed it (didn’t read the contract – drat!), didn’t like it, uninstalled it and emailed the company about how I send on the authorisation to anyone I might want to re-sell the software to.

    They got back and told me that I can’t re-sell it. If I do, I break the contract which says that if I buy it, I buy it on the understanding that I am the sole owner and no selling is allowed.

    I was very upset.

  4. Neil Neil

    I am sick of e ticketing for gigs (and big gigs in general) and think it is a complete rip off. Recently, I bought authorised tickets via the genuine route and was charged a £6.50 convenience fee! Convenient for who I ask? Then I had to pay £4.50 for postage. The ticket came months later (so what was happening to all the money collected between purchase and the gig) and there was no information on the ticket about the start time or if there would be a support.

    I was on the site to buy this ticket 1 minute past the hour that the tickets were supposed to go on sale and all the best seats had gone – of course, these were on ebay (and had been there fore some time) or as a special package costing hundreds more and even then, these seats were nothing special.

    I used to queue overnight to see my favourite bands and for that, got the best tickets. Not any more – too many middlemen and money grabbers who don’t care about the music or the genuine fans.

    What about the artists – surely they should do something too? As it is, if they can fill a 60K stadium, who cares? Then they charge £15 – £20 for a programme, there’s all the merchandise, payment to joint the fan clubs, CDs recorded live at the event etc. You name it, if they can find a way to screw the fans, they will. Talk about bite the hand. But then hey, suckers like me go and pay for it.

    Finally, and this has nothing to do with the internet (or does it?) when you get to the venue, you are usually 100s of feet away, watching it on a screen, and all around you everyone is talking or singing. So I’ve paid £80, travelled for 3 hours to listen to people talking and singing badly along to the songs I hear 2-3 seconds later than the original played by a band I cannot see without a 60-foot screen. Stay at home with a beer and wait for the DVD?

    Anyone want to buy a ticket? Actually, no, I’ll just give it away

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