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Ticket To Ride: Getting Primary Tickets Back Into The Hands Of Fans

5th December 2012 @ 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Venue: Fyvie Hall, University of Westminster

This event has now past. A short excerpt from the debate can be viewed below:

Please see press and resources anchors for further coverage and follow up commentary via our blog.

An extensive transcript is now available – free to members (remember to login), £19.99 for non-members. 

Dave Newton (speaking in the second part of this video) will also be discussing ticketing with Andy Inglis, course tutor in MusicTank’s upcoming course Get Plugged In: Live Music, Promotion and Venue Management, commencing 29 January 2013.

group1 group2 Live Nation COO Paul Latham has provided a statement on ticketing, which can be read in full on the MusicTank blog here . Due to the indisposition of speaker Ben Turner (AIF/Bestival), the following statement has been supplied in his absence:

“AIF believes that profiteering from ‘secondary ticketing’ selling is bad for fans and bad for live entertainment.  The practice of certain leading promoters of buying up ticket stock then re-selling them at inflated prices to make their shows appear sold out and to inflate the market needs to be stopped. Record labels were prevented from doing this many years ago to chart their records, and the same should apply today in live music.  We believe there are strong arguments for legislation to curb the activities of unofficial ticket-sellers and we as AIF call on secondary ticket sellers to cease and desist selling tickets for events we control. Bestival, Secret Garden, Womad – none of us want our tickets being re-sold at inflated prices.”

EVENT DETAILS

In February 2012, an edition of Channel 4’s Dispatches – The Great Ticket Scandal – shone a somewhat unsavoury light on how tickets for live music events are bought and sold. It depicted an increasingly blurred line between primary and secondary markets, nefarious insider practices designed to keep secondary prices artificially high and it implicated the complicity of certain artists and promoters.

For music fans, all too familiar with the dispiriting experience of hitting F5 repeatedly at 9.03am, the programme left a sour taste. Meanwhile, a significant proportion of the industry continues to voice frustration with wholesale ticket touting, lobbying policy-makers to intervene.

Policy-makers, however, have shown little appetite to do this. A Private Members Bill, seeking to cap the resale value of tickets, fell at its second reading in January 2011. Meanwhile, despite a hardline stance for the Olympics, our current Government exhibits scant desire to interfere in the workings of an unregulated free market.

And, all the while, the online secondary sites boom. The likes of Viagogo, Seatwave and StubHub continue to dominate Google’s search rankings and hoover up significant volumes of inventory. For many consumers, such sites offer the only opportunity of buying a ticket. It is they – quite literally – who are paying the price.

So…where do we go from here?

In an effort to give this important subject the full airing it deserves, MusicTank will go beyond the usual think tank format to bring together high-level personnel from across the ticketing industry, consumer representatives and government to look at positive ways to re-balance the primary and secondary ticketing markets in favour of genuine fans and not profiteers.

The summit will include two panels with distinct focuses. Panel one, entitled Innovation, will look at the technologies and techniques being used in some parts of the industry to eliminate touting and give fans a better experience. Before the first panel, Christiaan Munro of Sandbag will present a case study of Radiohead’s recent world tour, its aims and lessons learned.

Panel two, entitled Regulation, will look at the what can be done to protect ticket customers from a legislative perspective. What sort of regulation, if any, does the industry and consumers actually need and, given government intransigence to date, how are we going to achieve it?  We will hear from PRODISS, the French live music trade organisation that led successful legislative change over the Channel.

The summit will raise some serious questions, but importantly, will suggest answers that are practical and possible. Given the cut-throat economics of the live business, are those ‘at the coalface’ in a position to enact significant change, especially at the most sought-after arena shows, where demand far outstrips supply? Is Government legislation and price-capping the only way forward? And if it is, how will policy-makers and their advisers be convinced of some fairly well-trodden arguments?

Ultimately, this MusicTank intends to get the ticketing debate back on track. Stopping the practice of touting might be impossible (a bit like the somewhat nebulous concept of ending ‘piracy’ in the recorded business) but reducing profiteering opportunities, giving back control to those shouldering risk and enhancing the experience of fans is surely not beyond us.

You can find press coverage from this event via the links below.

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