A cross section of managers, artists and trade bodies have joined forces in the fight against ticket touts with the launch of a new campaign dubbed the FanFair Alliance, which is lobbying Government to clamp down on online touting.
Launched today at Somerset House, London, by the managers of Arctic Monkeys, One Direction, Mumford & Sons and PJ Harvey, the FanFair Alliance represents a concerted effort from the indsutry to tackle touts and protect consumers. As part of the initiative, a Declaration against online ticket touting has been issued and has already been signed by a raft of agents, promoters and music trade bodies (AFEM, AIF, AIM, BASCA, FAC, MMF, MPG, MU, MVT), as well as the managers of several high profile artists, such as Little Mix, Jess Glynne, Biffy Clyro, Iron Maiden, Ed Sheeran, Chvrches and Noel Gallagher.
The FanFair Alliance has highlighted the “industrial scale” of ticket re-sales on the black market and, which it says are “systematically ripping off fans, breaching a range of UK legislation and diverting revenues from the creative economy.” It also pointed out that secondary ticketing in the UK is now worth more than £1 billion per year.
FanFair has highlighted the prevalence of ticket touting on secondary ticketing platforms with new evidence submitted to a Competition & Markets Authority review, including recent sell-out shows for The 1975 and Black Sabbath. For the latter’s seven-date 2017 UK arena tour, 11,695 tickets were listed for re-sale within minutes of the general sale going live - close to capacity of an additional tour date. Across the board, ticket re-sale listings were found to be in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and other UK consumer laws.
Now, FanFair is urging Government to take four key steps that it says will disrupt touts and help get more face value tickets into the hands of consumers.
Enforcement: The Consumer Rights Act 2015 needs teeth. As highlighted by consumer bodies such as Which?, as well as FanFair’s own research, measures implemented in last year’s Consumer Rights Act to regulate ticket resales online are being systematically breached. We support Professor Michael Waterson’s recommendation in his recent Government review for a properly funded National Trading Standards investigation into secondary ticketing practices, with coordinated police action, and for strict penalties to be enforced if resale sites are found to be breaking the law.
Transparency: Fans need to know who they are buying from. Professional traders (or “powersellers”) are currently able to operate anonymously on secondary ticketing sites. This lack of transparency only benefits touts, and we believe their identities should be made clear to buyers. This is already a condition of existing legislation such as the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 (CCRs) - and is standard practice on true online markets such as eBay and Amazon Marketplace.
Responsibility: Secondary ticketing platforms should show proper corporate responsibility. As demanded by Which?, we believe that resale sites (not their users) should bear responsibility for ensuring compliance with consumer legislation.
Supply: Abuse of technology (or “bots”) to scalp tickets should be a criminal offence. Touts frequently hack into primary ticketing systems to buy up inventory for re-sale. Government should clarify that such actions are breaking the Computer Misuse Act, and attach appropriate penalties.
Speaking at London’s Somerset House, Wildlife Entertainment’s Ian McAndrew, manager of Arctic Monkeys and Royal Blood said: “The aim of the FanFair Alliance is to take a unified stand against rampant profiteering in the secondary ticketing market. I am delighted we are launching with such a groundswell of support and I hope more will come onboard and join us. By sharing knowledge, embracing progressive technology and enforcing consumer legislation, we can take significant strides in reducing a multi-million pound touting industry that impacts on music fans and the wider music economy.
“FanFair aims to take a pragmatic approach. That is why we are also urging Government to take measures and commit resources to enforce existing legislation. With that in place, we can seriously disrupt the more egregious touts and help get more face value tickets into the hands of fans. But that support is crucial. Otherwise fans will continue to be ripped off and we in the industry will continue to fight an uphill battle.”
Paul Reed, GM of the Association of Independent Festivals, added: “AIF fully supports the launch of the FanFair Alliance. We are calling on the Government to act and want to see a Consumer Rights Act that is best fit and protects music fans, with the law on ticket re-sales actually enforced. All involved in the industry should strive to work together to eliminate damaging and unlawful practices, improve consumer education and ensure transparency and fairness for fans”.
Fans are also being encouraged to sign up to the campaign at www.fanfairalliance.org and to share their experiences and stories.
Government is due to respond by July 21st to the nine recommendations made by Professor Michael Waterson in his secondary ticketing report.