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FanFair Alliance calls out Q Awards over StubHub sponsorship

By | Published on Friday 14 October 2016

Q Awards

The recently formed FanFair Alliance has accused the Q Awards of aiding secondary ticketing platform StubHub by allowing the eBay company to “buy legitimacy”.

Secondary ticketing is quite the bugbear in the music industry at the moment, you may have noticed. There is a school of thought that large portions of tickets for in demand live shows being bought up before people who actually intend to go can get to them, and said tickets then being resold at massively inflated prices, is a bad thing.

So, a few eyebrows were raised when StubHub was named as the new sponsor of the Q Awards last month. Q magazine’s annual back-slapping bash is already a relatively well-regarded event in the music industry calendar, and this new sponsorship cash is allowing the ceremony to expand this year and become more high profile – inviting in an audience of normal folks off the street, instead of just industry people looking for a free meal. Which meant a few more eyebrows were raised. Industry people hate the public looking at them while they eat.

Those who reckon that secondary ticketing is a force for bad started whispering that it was a bit shitty of the Q Awards to take money from a clearly controversial sponsor. Though Bauer Advertising MD Abby Carvosso was quick to reassure everyone that “the StubHub partnership will deliver a deep cultural connection with an audience of engaged music lovers in a unique multi-platform deal spanning both Q and [also Bauer owned] Absolute Radio”.

StubHub’s Global Marketing Director Charles Davies also offered some calming words: “At StubHub, we love it when an already successful concept develops into something even bigger and better. We want to help fans get to the events that they want to see and we’re proud to be giving fans the opportunity to experience The StubHub Q Awards live at the legendary Roundhouse”.

So, you see, there really is nothing to worry about. It’s just a brand association that will allow an existing event to reach a wider audience and take over an iconic live music venue. And most of all, it’s all being done for the fans.

Though eyebrows remained raised. And all this is happening just as the anti-tout brigade has got itself much more organised. There have been certain industry figures and MPs criticising the rise of industrial ticket touting for some time of course, though – after some initial efforts to rally on the issue in the early days of online ticket reselling – until recently the campaign against the secondary market was mainly different people and organisations all sighing grumpily at different times. But earlier this summer that sighing was consolidated into a new industry pressure group, the FanFair Alliance.

Issuing a statement on the Q Awards sponsorship as nominees were announced yesterday, FanFair said: “StubHub is a business complicit with harbouring professional ticket touts, ripping off fans and extracting millions of pounds each year from the UK’s music economy”.

It continued: “The company’s sponsorship of the 2016 Q Awards – now The StubHub Q Awards – comes at a particularly sensitive time, during an ongoing compliance review of secondary ticketing by the Competition & Markets Authority and with government due to respond to the recommendations of Professor Michael Waterson that would help clean up a notoriously under-regulated sector”.

This, of course, refers to the government’s recent review of the secondary ticketing market, and how new regulation brought in through the Consumer Rights Act is being implemented (or not, as is more often the case).

“As the FanFair Alliance we have very real concerns that this partnership is simply an attempt by StubHub to buy legitimacy”, the statement concludes. “We will be writing to the managers of nominated artists to further highlight these concerns, as well as the damage that industrial-scale online ticket touting is having on the wider music business”.

So, there you go, the threat of a mass exodus of artists and their managers from the guestlist of the event. Although that does mean there will be a few spare seats. More room for The Fans, right? Why just boycott the show when you can make a little spare cash too? Hey, angry artists, don’t just be a no show, why not sell that ticket? Quick! To StubHub!

Unfortunately, no. CMU spoke to one person who had already attempted this ruse – selling their ticket to the event on the very secondary ticketing platform sponsoring it – only to be told by StubHub that “there are some events that only allow people to list [tickets for sale] after the primary sellers have sold out”.

Well, you’ve got to be fair, haven’t you?