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Pearl Jam criticise proposed new ticketing laws in the US

By | Published on Thursday 20 February 2020

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam have criticised elements of the BOSS Act, the proposed new legislation in the US that would introduce some new regulation of the primary and secondary ticketing markets. Although the band say they do support some of the proposed reforms.

The BOSS Act is the latest attempt by Congressman Bill Pascrell to regulate the ticketing sector. It includes some measures that are mainly relevant to the primary ticketing market and others to regulate ticket touting, or scalping as they call it in the US.

Though, in the latter domain – while the BOSS Act would force more transparency on the secondary ticketing market and seek to stop touts speculatively selling tickets they don’t yet have – it would also protect the right of buyers to resell their tickets.

That would mean promoters across the US could not seek to restrict the resale of their tickets. In the UK, of course, the fact promoters can do that – by banning resale in the terms and conditions, and then seeking to cancel any tickets that are subsequently touted – has been key to those artists who have pursued proactive anti-touting strategies.

With that in mind, Pearl Jam argue that, by depriving US promoters of a similar option, the BOSS Act is pro-tout and anti-fan. In a letter outlining their concerns about Pascrell’s proposals, they write: “Consumers need artists to limit scalping and ticket fraud, to use and ensure that tickets go to fans instead of profit seekers; transfer restrictions make that possible”.

They also take issue with one of Pascrell’s primary ticketing proposals: a rule that would force promoters to publish information on how many tickets they are putting on general sale for any one show. This proposal relates to a concern that is more prevalent in the US – that promoters allocate so many tickets to commercial partners that only a tiny portion ever go on general sale.

But, Pearl Jam say, the proposed obligation to publish ticket allocations would also mainly benefit the pesky touts. They write: “This hurts consumers more than it will help, because consumers don’t make purchasing decisions based on how many tickets are available – bulk purchasers like professional resellers do. Many times, in final planning, after tickets have gone on-sale, we are able to create additional ticket opportunities. Artists need to retain this flexibility, for example, to open ‘obstructed view’ seats after a concert nears sell-out”.

Among the elements of the BOSS Act supported by the band are the new rules on transparency, deceptive communications and speculative selling in the secondary ticketing market.

For his part, Pascrell is standing by his wider proposals, which – he says – will tackle “corruption” in both the primary and secondary ticketing domains. For the Congressman, taking on the dominant primary sellers (mainly Live Nation’s Ticketmaster) is as important as regulating all those touts.

Responding to the Pearl Jam letter, he said: “Fans have been pinched, gouged, squeezed, soaked, and outright heisted by a seemingly endless litany of hidden fees, add-ons, and gimmicks created by the unregulated ticket monopolies who operate in the dark with impunity”.

“My bill would be the first comprehensive overhauling of this corrupt marketplace”, he went on. “Music and sports fans have waited long enough for relief. Pearl Jam may know a thing or two about making great music, but they’ve been led astray about my legislation. I would be happy to speak with the band about why Live Nation-Ticketmaster doesn’t care about their fans and wants to preserve a corrupt marketplace”.