If you’re a music fan – or sports fan, or theatre-goer for that matter – then you’ll almost certainly be familiar with the perils of buying tickets online.
In theory, the process should be as transparent and straightforward as ordering your groceries online or downloading a song.
But in practice, and especially when it comes to high-demand events, the experience is far more frustrating – logging onto a ticketing website at a designated time, only to discover the performance you want to see is apparently ‘sold out’.
And then, compounding the misery, minutes later and hundreds of those tickets have popped up for vastly inflated sums on so-called ‘secondary ticketing’ sites.
Ticketing black market
Tickets are increasingly being listed on these secondary sites before they go on sale to the general public, as highlighted by recent Which? research.
Clearly, something isn’t working.
Services supposedly established to help genuine fans re-sell a ticket when they can no longer attend a show, are in fact enabling industrial-scale touting.
Typically, this involves ‘power sellers’ (ie touts) harvesting blocks of tickets via specialised software and multiple identities or credit cards. And the development of this digital black market is a cause of growing unease within the music industry.
Fans are the lifeblood of our business, but if they are short-changed and badly treated, then there will be serious long-term ramifications. Revenues that should stay within the music ecosystem and help develop our next generation of talent, are instead being syphoned off by these hi-tech speculators.
Ticketing and the Consumer Rights Act
But if recognising this dysfunction is easy – rectifying the market is far more problematic. And for that to happen, we need the Government to act.
Measures in last year’s Consumer Rights Act (CRA) aimed at providing fans with basic protections have so far proved ineffective. The legislation is often ignored by secondary ticketing sites, and certainly not enforced. So scalpers and touts continue to act with impunity.
But support for a petition to the Government to enforce and extend the CRA is a strong indicator of public feelings on this issue, having amassed nearly 40,000 signatures. The Government has commissioned a review into the secondary ticketing market, the findings of which are due out this week. So there may still be hope for fixing this dysfunctional ticketing market, rebalancing for the sake of both the fans and entertainment industry.
So what do you think about the secondary ticketing market – does it need rebalancing? Have you bought secondary tickets before? If so, do you think you were ripped off? And were you confused at all about the difference between a ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ ticket seller?
This is a guest post by Paul Pacifico, CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition. All opinions are Paul’s own, not necessarily those of Which?