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Fix The Tix publishes full manifesto with the focus very much on secondary ticketing

By | Published on Friday 9 June 2023

Fix The Tix

The Fix The Tix campaign in the US has set out in more detail its manifesto, calling on Congress to better regulate the American ticketing market. The focus is very much on secondary ticketing, proposing various legal reforms to improve the regulation of ticket resale by unofficial sellers.

Issues surrounding the ticketing business have been in the spotlight again of late in the US following the meltdown that occurred last year when tickets for Taylor Swift’s current tour went on sale via Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan system.

As a result, there are various campaigns ongoing and a number of legislative proposals have been introduced into Congress. Different campaigns and different proposals tend to focus on different issues. There are issues in primary ticketing. There are issues in secondary ticketing. And some would argue that the real issue is the market dominance of Ticketmaster and its owner Live Nation. So, which issues should be addressed first?

Live Nation has its own campaign ongoing with sets out its five key priorities. Most of them relate to secondary ticketing. Ticketmaster is actually still involved in ticket resale in the US – unlike in Europe – but if new regulation is implemented, the live giant would clearly prefer the focus to be on the secondary market.

After Live Nation launched its campaign and listed the various booking agencies, management companies and industry organisations that were backing it, another coalition of music industry businesses and groups then announced the launch of Fix The Tix.

Although some companies and organisations are backing both Live Nation’s campaign and Fix The Tix, it felt like the latter would mainly involve those who viewed the former as self-serving on the part of Live Nation and Ticketmaster. And maybe Fix The Tix would call for some reforms to the ticketing business that the live giant and its ticketing company wouldn’t support.

Initially, it wasn’t clear what specific issues Fix The Tix was going to prioritise. Though last month it became clear that secondary ticketing was likely to be a priority when organisers of the campaign hit out at updated legislative proposals from Congress member Bill Pascrell Jr.

He’s a vocal Ticketmaster critic who has been trying to introduce new laws that would regulate ticketing for more than a decade. But his BOSS Act – the latest version of which was introduced into the House Of Representatives last month – actually includes some proposals that would empower the resellers of tickets, ie the good old touts and scalpers. Basically, it would make it harder for concert promoters to restrict the resale of their tickets.

Fix The Tix reps stated that although some of Pascrell’s proposals were favourable – such as forcing more transparency on the ticketing sector – the pro-tout provisions were very bad. The BOSS Act, they added, “provides some transparency for consumers” but “in exchange for anti-fan and anti-artist handouts for scalpers and secondary ticketing platforms that do not contribute to the live entertainment ecosystem”.

In the more detailed manifesto published this week, Fix The Tix sets out various criticisms of the secondary ticketing market and proposes a number of ways in which it should be regulated. The manifesto states: “Fans and artists are facing the glaring consequences of an unchecked ticketing market that has been exploited by predatory resellers. If Congress does not act, the status quo – devoid of essential protections – leaves consumers vulnerable and harms artists”.

“Predatory and deceptive practices run rampant”, it adds, “as ticket resale platforms become breeding grounds for fraud, counterfeit tickets, and exorbitant price gouging. As a result, according to Bloomberg, resale ticket prices on one platform – Stubhub – ‘have increased more than 100% since 2019, while the face value of tickets has increased only 10%’”.

“Moreover”, it continues, “predatory resellers undermine the hard work, talent, and livelihood of artists, making money off their backs while limiting the number of live events fans can attend, quashing the careers of emerging artists”.

It then says: “We urge Congress to enact comprehensive legislation that safeguards consumers from fake tickets, price gouging, and other deceptive practices, provides transparency in ticket pricing, and restores integrity to the ticketing marketplace”.

In terms of possible new laws, Fix The Tix says that Congress should “make it illegal for resellers, professional ticket brokers and ticket platforms to violate the artists’ and venues’ ticket terms and conditions, including restrictions that prohibit price gouging of fans through the resale of tickets above face value”.

Although possibly slightly tougher in its wording, that is similar to the first demand in Live Nation’s campaign, which says that “artists should decide resale rules”, so to “protect artists’ ability to use face-value exchanges and limited transfer to keep pricing lower for fans, and prevent scalpers from exploiting fans”.

A number of the other proposals from Fix The Tix also echo Live Nation’s requested reforms. That includes better enforcement of the existing laws that ban touts from using bots to hoover tickets from primary sites; a ban on speculative selling, where touts sell tickets they don’t actually have yet; and a law mandating that all ticket sellers – primary and secondary – list the full cost of a ticket, including any fees and commissions, upfront.

But there are some proposals from Fix The Tix that go beyond what Live Nation is actively supporting. That said, some of those are unlikely to be overtly opposed by the live giant. Though some might be.

Perhaps the most interesting proposal is that Congress should “require that contact information of secondary market ticket buyers be provided to the artists and venues for the show they will attend to ensure that all fans can be contacted by a venue or artist if a show is rescheduled or if there is an emergency”.

And also ensure that “secondary ticketing buyer information is protected and not used for sales or marketing purposes without the express permission of the fan”.

It also says that Congress should “prohibit companies that operate both primary and secondary ticketing platforms from forcing tickets sold for more than face value to only be resold on their platforms” and “prohibit companies that are primary sellers and secondary resellers from offering secondary resales on the same web page or display where the primary seller also offers tickets for primary sale”.

Since Ticketmaster operates both primary and secondary ticketing sites in the US, the latter proposal may raise some concerns for Live Nation. Although compared to the other campaigns and proposals out there that seek to tackle Live Nation’s market dominance head on, it’s not so dramatic a demand.

With multiple proposals already circulating around Congress – including Pascrell’s BOSS Act, another that includes a couple of the things proposed by Live Nation and Fix The Tix, and another that is focused on Live Nation’s market dominance – it remains to be seen whether Fix The Tix’s campaigning influences any of those, or leads to the formulation of additional separate proposals.

You can read Fix The Tix’s full manifesto here.