Can the music industry stop fans being ripped off over tickets?

Can the music industry stop fans being ripped off over tickets?

UK music industry discussion group MusicTank will dedicate its final think tank of 2012 to a controversial topic: the rise and rise of secondary ticketing. 

In a debate of two halves, separate panels will look at moves to improve both innovation in the primary market and regulation of the secondary market.  The session will bring together artists, managers and promoters who are leading initiatives aiming to get tickets in the hands of genuine fans, as well as new the technology services that might them help achieve this.

In the wake of February’s Dispatches revelations (aka ‘The Great Ticket Scandal’), Government inaction, and the continued growth of online secondary sites, the event intends to move the debate on – not only in terms of legislation, but also the potential opportunities for artists to connect with their audiences.

Aline Renet, head of communications and public affairs at PRODISS will keynote the Regulation panel, while Dave Newton, founder of We Got Tickets, will keynote the Innovation panel.

PRODISS is the trade organisation for the French live music industry that successfully pushed for legislative change that gives promoters control of their tickets. Renet will explain how French artists, managers and promoters mobilised themselves, what the change in the law actually means and its impact so far.

Founded in 2000, WeGotTickets was a pioneer of paperless ticketing in the UK. Newton is a staunch critic of ‘legitimised’ touting and having sold more than 5m tickets (and counting) is well–placed to describe how the live business works, potential improvements to the primary market and hurdles to innovation.

Said MusicTank Chairman Keith Harris “Four years ago when MusicTank first took on this issue, the alarm bells were ringing, but the Government and the industry hit snooze. Now it's definitely time to wake up and get to work on solving this problem, before it's too late.”

Event Details

Date:                     5th December 2012

Time:                    5:30pm to 9:00pm

Panel 1:                Innovation

Keynote: Dave Newton, WeGotTickets

Speakers tbc

Panel 2:                Regulation

Keynote: Aline Renet, PRODISS

Moderator: Keith Harris, Chairman MusicTank

Speakers tbc

Both panels will be moderated by MusicTank Chairman Keith Harris


Venue:                Fyvie Hall, University of Westminster, 309 Regent St, W1B 2UW

Cost:                       MusicTank members £40, MusicTank student members £25, Full price £55  

Tickets must be purchased in advance from www.musictank.co.uk  


Read the full description of MusicTank’s event below

Ticket To Ride: Getting Primary Tickets Back into the Hands of Fans

In February 2012, an edition of Channel 4's Dispatches (aka 'The Great Ticket Scandal') shone a somewhat unsavoury light on how tickets for live music events are bought and sold - depicting an increasingly blurred line between primary and secondary markets, some nefarious insider practices designed to keep secondary prices artificially high, and the apparent complicity in this situation 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 hard line 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 a bid to move things on, and in a debate of two halves, MusicTank will bring together artists, managers and promoters at the heart of the debate and who are leading initiatives to ensure gig tickets end up in the hands of genuine fans as opposed to profiteers.

There are some searching questions here. For instance, given the cut-throat economics of the live business, is it within the power of those at the sharp end to enact significant change? Particularly at the most sought-after arena shows, where demand far outstrips supply. Or 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? 

Importantly, aside from regulation, we will also hear from the technology companies powering innovation in this area, enabling artists to connect directly with their audiences; the not-for-profit fan-to-fan ticket exchanges; and also from PRODISS, the French live music trade organisation that led successful legislative change over the Channel.  What lessons can the UK industry learn from their experiences?

Ultimately, this MusicTank session 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 closing the vacuum of opportunity, giving back control to those shouldering risk and enhancing the experience of fans is surely not beyond us.


Tags: MusicTank, secondary ticketing

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