Europe’s Digital Services Act (DSA) is the latest piece of continent-wide legislation that focuses on the online world, with attending controversies.

For example, we wrote about protests by a group of music industry bodies in November 2021, when they thought the act would give too much ‘safe harbour’ leeway to search engines and other online platforms.

Now anti-touting organisation FEAT is hoping that the DSA can be altered on another front: adding in “tougher laws on online marketplaces” – which in this case, focuses on secondary ticketing sites.

An open letter published by FEAT, and signed by various industry bodies, agencies and promoters, festival organisers and management companies, calls for the DSA to force secondary sites to ensure ticket sellers are identifiable and “clearly visible alongside the products offered” and to carry out “periodic spot-checks on listed products to ensure that they comply with the law.”.

Importantly, FEAT also wants these rules to apply to all businesses, rejecting “the idea of a waiver for medium-sized businesses, which would leave the rules vulnerable to exploitation and encourage bad actors to move to smaller platforms”.

This is a drum that FEAT has been banging for some time. It published its recommendations for the Act in October 2020, then signed a statement from bodies across music, sports, retail and conservation encouraging “effective and unambiguous rules… to tackle illegal activities and rogue traders” in October 2021.

In separate news, the campaign manager of another anti-touting body, FanFair Alliance, has written a guest column for Music Ally outlining some of his concerns about the impact dynamic pricing is having on the ticketing market.

If the theory behind dynamic pricing is to enable primary tickets to increase in price based on demand, and thus “make more money, and clobber the touts” in the words of FanFair’s Adam Webb, it is appealing to the industry. However, Webb is concerned.

“For one, dynamic appears to be wholly dependent on secondary platforms setting the benchmark for pricing – which (a) doesn’t exactly create incentives to crack down on their exploitative practices; and (b) ignores the endemic speculation on these platforms where touts frequently list tickets they don’t actually possess,” he wrote.

“Anyone who thinks viagogo offers some sort of pure litmus test of supply / demand, is either incredibly naive or off their rocker… Dynamic also means promoters and artists are, to some extent, ceding control of their pricing strategies to the high-volume ticket touts that dominate these platforms – some of whom may have acquired those tickets unlawfully.”

You can read the full column here. Clearly, this is one view, and the companies running dynamic pricing like Live Nation will have their own arguments in the model’s favour. But this, plus the ongoing pressure for a DSA ticketing crackdown, is a useful snapshot of the current debates around secondary ticketing – and its impact on primary ticket sales.

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Music Ally's Head of Insight

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