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“Transparency” the new buzz word in the ticket resale space

By | Published on Friday 30 March 2012


In a round up piece on the recent revival of secondary ticketing outrage here in Britian, live industry trade magazine LIVE UK has added a couple of extra interesting nuggets of information into the mix.

As previously reported, secondary ticketing – which hasn’t been as controversial over here as in the US in recent years – was thrown very much back into the spotlight by an expose on Channel 4 documentary series ‘Dispatches’ last month, which focused on ticket resale websites Viagogo and Seatwave, and the use of such sites by some tour promoters to resell tickets for their own events at a big mark up.

Although the programme caused some outrage online and in the press, and reignited the debate in Westminster as to whether ticket touting should be regulated, it remains to be seen whether the programme has any major impact. Seatwave has just upgraded its website, and says that the new platform offers more “transparency”, though it’s not entirely clear what that means.

But the “T” word has been used by the live industry trade body the Concert Promoters Association too. None of the promoters accused of reselling their own tickets at big marks ups by Channel 4 has actually engaged with the media since the ‘Dispatches’ show aired, instead relying on an initial CPA statement that blamed the government for failing to crack down on touting, forcing some of its members to join the ticket resale party.

But, with the promoters who do just that claiming they actually view the secondary ticketing sites as ‘premium primary ticketing services’, and therefore don’t really consider themselves to be self-touting their own tickets, some critics have called on such companies to declare that fact, rather than pretending they are fans selling to other fans.

And the CPA, while not wanting to be too heavily drawn into the debate, has basically agreed with that viewpoint. According to LIVE UK, after a discussion on the online touting issue at its AGM earlier this month, the trade body said in a statement: “The CPA encourages all of its members to observe its code of conduct, which is to deal fairly with the public, other businesses and the artistes they promote, and to maintain ethical standards, honesty and integrity. It also advises the public to only buy tickets from the outlets listed in promoters’ advertising, from the venue box office or from ticket agencies which display the STAR [Society of Ticket Agents And Retailers] logo”.

Meanwhile the body’s chair, Stuart Littlewood, added: “In future, I believe there will be a lot more transparency, in that tickets sold at premium prices will be clearly defined as such”.

Of course the new transparency that’s being promised will be of interest to the music publishers and their collecting society PRS For Music. As previously noted, as promoters pay a percentage of ticket revenues to the society to cover the rights that exist in songs performed at their shows, if the promoter sells that ticket at a mark up via a Viagogo type site, arguably the percentage royalty is due on the mark up as well as the published ticket price. It’s not clear whether such extra royalties on marked-up tickets have been paid in the past.

Asked about that particular issue by LIVE UK, a spokesman for PRS said: “In light of the allegations raised by ‘Dispatches’, the licensing team and board of PRS For Music are reviewing all options to ensure that all primary sales are disclosed in returns. We reserve the right to audit a performance and associated accounts, to ensure accuracy of payments”.

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