MP Sharon Hodgson has vowed to ramp up the pressure on the government on secondary ticketing after the author of the Waterson Review voiced fears the issue would be “pushed into the long grass”.
Professor Michael Waterson made a series of recommendations and called for greater enforcement of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 in his review of the resale sector, published in late May.
Four months on, amid delays caused by the EU referendum and subsequent governmental fallout, he is yet to receive a response from Westminster. “I am expecting a response, but I am concerned it will be pushed into the long grass,” said Waterson.
Labour MP Hodgson, who is co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on ticket abuse, told Music Week: “The government have sat on their hands for too long in responding to the Waterson Review, and it’s time that they got round to responding and implementing the recommendations set out in the review, especially an investigation by the police and trading standards and the identification of power-sellers.”
Hodgson wrote to new culture secretary Karen Bradley in August to reiterate the need for action. “I received a response saying that she is carefully considering the review’s recommendations and has offered to meet with myself and other representatives from the Ticket Abuse APPG,” said Hodgson.
Waterson was speaking at last week’s inaugural Live & Ticketing Summit at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. Organised by Songkick, the MMF and FanFair Alliance, the event brought together music managers, agents and politicians, for a series of panels.
University Of Warwick-based economist Waterson suggested the live sector was “leaving money on the table” in its pricing of concerts by seeking to attract a particular audience.
“If you do leave money on the table then there are going to be people who will try and pick it up - and those are the people in the secondary market. You therefore have to take action to reduce the influence of those people. I don’t think you will ever eliminate it, but you will reduce it.”
Ignition Management’s Marcus Russell, who represents Noel Gallagher, among others, responded: "You're not trying to maximise your income there and then, you're trying to actually develop a career. I think this is one of the huge misunderstandings, certainly in Westminster, as to what the market price of a ticket is and the fact that we're all insane by charging other than the market price. On the contrary, we're in the business of creating long-time careers for our artists.”
FanFair Alliance co-founder Adam Tudhope, who manages Mumford & Sons, revealed: “If you ask Ticketmaster to turn off links to secondary on any primary tickets that they’re selling for you, they will do it. The thing that they ask for you in return is to show that you are making an effort to combat secondary in other ways.”
Ticketmaster MD Andrew Parsons responded: “We do that in many instances. We don’t do a good enough job about shouting about the occasions in which we do. Where we do put that in place they’re not listed on our resale sites at all, so they won’t be on GET ME IN! They won’t be on Seatwave. StubHub will often follow suit with us when we do take those kinds of stands. Viagogo will still do what they do.”
Labour Peer Baroness Diane Haytor said legislation and enforcement was key, even raising the possibility of private prosecutions. “One person behind bars would be wonderful,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Competition and Markets Authority is expected to publish the findings of its compliance review into the four largest secondary ticketing websites, by the end of the year.