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82% of consumers reckon secondary ticketing needs to be more transparent

By | Published on Monday 30 October 2017


The FanFair campaign has published new research on what consumers think about secondary ticketing, with 82% of those surveyed saying that ticket resale sites should be more transparent, while just over half said that they found it difficult to distinguish between primary and secondary ticket sellers.

The survey of 1158 consumers – undertaken for FanFair by AudienceNet and Music Ally back in June this year – found that 74% of respondents reckoned that online ticket touting was becoming a concern for music fans, with just 7% outright disagreeing with that statement. 81% thought that ticket resale sites were “ripping off the fans”.

As much previously reported, the campaign within the music community against the resale of tickets at hiked up prices online has gained considerable momentum in the last couple of the years, with that campaigning in the UK focused on the FanFair initiative.

And while frustrated fans forced to buy tickets to in-demand shows at considerable mark-ups on the secondary market are the obvious victims of rampant touting, said music community loses out too, according to the new Fan Fair research. A majority of those surveyed said that they were likely to spend less of merch and recorded music, food and drink, and other shows, if they have to pay a premium to access a ticket. Meaning at least some of the monies that go to the industrial-level touts are lost to the music industry.

Many artists, managers and promoters, as well as consumer rights groups, advocate increased regulation of the resale of tickets for profit. Some go as far as proposing an outright ban, such as that recently passed in New South Wales in Australia. Others propose measures like capping resale mark-ups, banning the use of special software by touts to access tickets from primary sites, and forcing touts to publish original ticket prices and ticket numbers, and to be more transparent about who they are.

The vast majority of those surveyed by FanFair agreed that touts selling on secondary sites should be forced to reveal their identity, so that consumers knew if they were buying from industrial level touts who buy and sell tickets on a commercial basis. The resale sites should also be much more clear that they are not approved primary sellers of the tickets they list.

In addition to lobbying lawmakers for new and better regulation, the anti-tout brigade also urge artists and promoters to do more to combat touting, such as providing approved sites where fans can resell tickets at face value, limiting ticket purchases on primary sites, and personalising tickets and checking ID at the venue. All of these were supported by the vast majority of those surveyed, including the ID checks – backed by 75% – even though that measure can inconvenience the consumer a little at the venue.

Commenting on the research, FanFair Campaign Manager Adam Webb said: “The debate around online ticket touting raises strong passions, so it’s important that the wider music business, politicians and regulators can get a sense of what the general public think. The message from this research appears to be pretty clear: UK audiences are fed up”.

He continued: “The model of secondary ticketing promoted by Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In and Seatwave is causing them very real concern – albeit, they are not against the concept of ticket resale. The majority would like the option to resell a ticket for the price they paid for it, and they’re in favour of measures to curb mass-scale online ticket touting. On that front, FanFair urges legislators and regulators to accelerate their endeavours to tackle the most egregious practices of the secondary market”.

Concluding, Webb said: “More positively, an increasing number of UK ticket companies are now offering face value resale services, and it’s becoming common practice for artists to implement anti-touting strategies. This is hugely encouraging, although there remains a deep-rooted resistance from some parts of the live business that needs to be overcome. For while the status quo might bring short-term gains to certain companies, there is a real danger that their intransigence will cause considerable long-term damage – not only to the live music sector, but across the music business overall”.

As previously reported, the political community in the UK has become much more open to regulating secondary ticketing of late, certainly compared to a decade ago.

That partly means better enforcing the existing ticket touting rules that were introduced in the 2015 Consumer Rights Act, but also considering new proposals, such as the recent bots ban that outlaws the use of the aforementioned software that allows touts to buy up large numbers of tickets from primary sites.

Though the UK government is still against an outright ban of reselling tickets for profit and even the introduction of caps on how much resold tickets can be marked up. The Department For Digital, Culture, Media And Sport reaffirmed that position just last week when reacting to a new anti-touting petition posted on the Parliament website, which quickly passed the 10,000 threshold required for an official response.

The new petition stated: “Tickets are being bought from sites and are getting sold to third party sellers for a high price meaning real fans are missing out. Reselling of football tickets is illegal under the Criminal Justice And Public Order Act 1994. Why can’t laws apply for tickets to concerts and other sporting events?”

Responding, the government said it recognised that “the process of distributing and buying tickets can often be a cause for public frustration and concern” and that it “is determined to crackdown on unacceptable behaviour and improve fans’ chances of buying tickets at a reasonable price”.

However, it stands by the conclusion of the 2016 Waterson Review of secondary ticketing on the issue of price caps. Writes the government: “Professor Waterson specifically considered the issue of a cap on ticket resale prices, and we agree with his conclusion that it should not be taken forward as it would raise a number of practical considerations and be of limited effect, as it would be extremely difficult to enforce”.

The culture ministry then references measures in the recent Digital Economy Act on touting, including the bots ban and the addition of ‘ticket number’ to the bits of information a tout must provide when reselling a ticket.

You can access the new FanFair research here.