Ticket touting at scale is a consequence of digital and its solution, alongside legislation may also lie in digital.
The establishment of the FanFair Alliance– led by artist managers, but also marshalling others in the live music business – is the first concerted and concentrated effort by the music industry to cauterise the secondary ticketing business that is estimated to bleed £1bn a year away from the primary market.
At the press event to launch the initiative in London yesterday (14th July), Brian Message of Courtyard/ATC described it in corporate responsibility terms, saying that the companies involved here have a duty to “move beyond the industrialised ticket touring” that the sector is seeing today.
Ian McAndrew of Wildlife Entertainment – whose management clients include Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood and Travis – says the seeds were sown in 2003 with the arrival of StubHub, which had a benign intention that quickly morphed into something more pernicious.
“It relied on a fan-to-fan ticket exchange as a way of entering the marketplace,” he said. “That fan-to-fan exchange soon changed to become a platform through which ticket touts could sell tickets. It served as a great opportunity for profits to be derived from selling tickets at vastly inflated prices. Then 2005 saw Viagogo enter the market – a European equivalent to StubHub.”
FanFair outlined the scale of the issue today by citing research that showed how 11,695 tickets for Black Sabbath’s 2017 UK arena tour, which only runs to seven nights, made their way onto secondary sites within minutes of tickets going to general sale on the primary market.
“What we detected was touts becoming more organised and deploying technology to harvest large volumes of tickets,” said McAndrew.