Sunday, February 26, 2012

Why the "true fans" might not want to know the truth about ticket touting

Watched the Dispatches programme about the "secondary market" for tickets, which uncovered pretty clear evidence that promoters were supplying some tickets to the big on-line companies who were then selling them on as if they came from private individuals.

The thing I really found surprising was that on the two occasions when "the act" was mentioned, it was taken for granted that they couldn't possibly know anything about this business and if they did they would be horrified.

The big acts - and it's the big acts that see their tickets being sold on for a 200% premium - are quite practised at turning a blind eye to things which benefit them. If only their fans were a bit less naive.

Let's assume I'm the manager of a hot group. As I look out into the arena I can assume that half a million pounds has been spent on tickets. The problem is that my act has only got £300,000 of that. I'd be failing in my duty as a manager if I didn't want my clients to get a share of that missing £200,000.

Ticket prices have increased beyond all reason in the last ten years. This is not solely because of touting and re-selling. It's because people have been ready to pay increasing amounts and the acts have increased their prices to take advantage of that.  The problem they've got now is that they can't be seen to ask the prices they know that people will pay.

I don't actually know of a case of an act scalping their own tickets. However I would be absolutely amazed if it doesn't go on. Some exposé will eventually make that connection, although the concert business is so opaque it's unlikely they'll ever be able to prove it. The real problem is the public won't want to believe it.


  1. It's as if a millennial hysteria has descended upon us all. When face value is already over the odds, what is it that people are expecting from these concerts?

    Nobody - *nobody* - is that good!

  2. If an act really wants to maximise their return then they should adopt an "Easyjet" pricing strategy. Early tickets are cheap, but then the price becomes flexible based on demand. That's essentially what the "secondary" sites are doing anyway.

    Of course, that perhaps doesn't reflect well on the act - particular if their fanbase is young. But it'd be a more honest approach to ticketing. See how much you can get, and adjust prices to that demand accordingly.

    Whenever I read pieces about secondary ticketing in the magazines like Music Week, it seems to be more the bands' management companies and promoters bemoaning the fact that they're missing out on all this additional revenue. So what Channel 4's programme revealed wasn't perhaps as surprising to me as it might have been.

    But I agree that the programme should have gone a step further and got statements from some of the major acts' managers commenting on the practices. After all, they're the name on the tickets...

  3. I'm sure I read a comment from Sting about The Police reunion tour where he said something to the lines of "If people will pay twice as much on eBay I have to wonder why we aren't already charging that" - now that just leads to price rises rather than "scalping" ... but like you say I wouldn't at all be surprised if it is going on somewhere out there.

    So these days I wonder... £70something plus a ridiculous £5 a ticket booking fee to stand in a different postcode to see some dots that might be Coldplay on stage or ... £15 a ticket, 50p to post to me and up close and personal with Paradise Lost at a little arts venue... when I do my "gig of the year" review in December I wonder which on I'll consider better value for money?...