Within the music industry, Ed Sheeran and promotions firm Kilimanjaro Live have won plenty of praise for their stance against ticket touting. Not just for criticising the practice, but for taking action – helping fans with a genuine reason for reselling tickets to do it, while also clamping down on those sold through secondary platform Viagogo. A lot of this involved a fair amount of neck-sticking-out, and it’s been appreciated within the industry.
With that in mind, though, it’s only fair to report that there have been some teething problems with the authorised resales for Sheeran’s recent tour. The Guardian had the story: some fans complaining because the price for reselling their tickets was set at face-value plus a 10% resale fee, yet with primary tickets available at face-value up until the day of the gigs, the latter were (unsurprisingly) more attractive to late buyers than the ones being resold. “Why would anybody buy tickets for face value plus 10% when face value tickets exist?” as one disgruntled fan put it.
“Whilst we understand the frustration of someone who is unable to resell and wants to drop the price accordingly to give themselves a better chance of recouping some of their money, unfortunately this throws up more questions than answers,” was Kilimanjaro Live’s response: some of those questions being whether fans who’d paid full whack would feel ripped off if authorised-resale tickets were available for below-face-value prices. That’s a fair concern.
However, it’s a reminder that tackling touting can throw up complications, if different levers are being pulled in the process. Drip-releasing tickets up until the day of a concert is one way to combat touting, but if that’s combined with a policy where fans can’t resell their tickets for face value (rather than face value plus 10%) then there’ll be complaints. Viagogo for one will undoubtedly be egging on any suggestions that the approach of Sheeran and his team was fan-unfriendly.
Fellow managers and promoters will rightly pooh-pooh that interpretation: tackling touting at this scale with such a high-profile tour will bring lots of important lessons, and if some of those are about how it could be improved next time round, that’s a good thing.