Tuesday, July 3, 2018

‘Touts are crafty and aggressive – but we know this technology is very secure.’ | Music Business Worldwide

AXS is on a mission to change ticket resale in the UK.

The Ticketmaster rival has launched a new online market in Britain, which caps the resale of concert tickets at a maximum of 10% above the face value price originally paid.

This marketplace also deploys ‘Flash Seats’ technology to fight the counterfeiting and fake tickets which plague the current secondary market.

The ‘Flash Seats’ tech underpins a mobile friendly, identity-based system which assigns each mobile ticket a dynamically changing barcode system, ensuring that it cannot be copied or shared illegally.

AEG, a part-owner of AXS, has now partnered with AXS Marketplace for The O2 and The SSE Arena, Wembley – ending its long-running partnership with secondary ticketing platform Stubhub.

And the UK’s anti-tout campaigners seem impressed.

Adam Webb, Campaign Manager of the FanFair Alliance, said: “FanFair Alliance welcomes today’s announcement by AXS. While our campaign has helped deliver significant legislative and regulatory changes, we are now seeing tangible progress in the UK’s ticketing market and a seemingly unstoppable trend towards services that offer consumer-friendly resale.

“AXS Marketplace looks like a significant addition to these, capping resale at 10% of the original ticket price and deploying mobile technology so that artist teams can better protect fans and lock out the touts. Our supporters will look forward to further information from AXS about the platform’s rollout and launch.”

Below, MBW catches up with AXS CEO and President, Bryan Perez (pictured), to ask him whether we’re talking about a ticketing evolution – or a ticketing revolution…

Why, ultimately, are you launching AXS Marketplace – and why do you think AEG is moving away from its UK partnership with StubHub?

This launch follows a careful and thorough evaluation of the UK marketplace. We noted concerns from consumers over fraud, counterfeiting & unfair profiteering alongside their increasing demands for something to be done about it.

AXS competed in a competitive bid against StubHub and others to win the contracts with The O2 and the SSE Arena, Wembley and we are very proud of the fact that AEG chose to work with us not only because of our superior technology but also for our sensitivity and understanding of what’s right for the consumer, the promoter and the venue.

People may be suspicious about a global company like AXS, with AEG as an investor, effectively ditching secondary ticketing. Are there any loopholes here for profiteers?

We have put in place a platform that allows people to better manage the resale of their tickets. We have heard the complaints from our clients and consumers loud and clear about profiteering and touting over the last 18 months or so, and this technology will have a dramatic impact on our partner’s control over what happens to their tickets.

It will ensure that every purchaser , whether through primary or resale , is getting an authentic , non-counterfeited ticket to see the artist that they love. There is nothing worse for us than having to deal with disappointed fans at the box office who have been taken advantage of or outright robbed.

Are there loopholes? Our observations are that these profiteers and touts are crafty and aggressive and that they will try find a way around our system but we also know from our experiences in other markets that this technology is very secure and has an enormous impact on our client’s ability to manage the resale market.

Are you not harming yourselves here: Live Nation says that secondary ticketing’s gross transactional value was worth well over $1bn at its company last year…

We are a private company with multiple owners who are also our clients and their view of the world is often different to that of a publicly traded entity. Sometimes just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something.

There are broader implications here than just trying to make as much profit as possible on the resale market. At the end of the day this about the fan experience and our company is deeply invested in ensuring that the right fan gets the right ticket at a fair price. Our fundamental belief is that a happy fan over the long-term is a profitable fan, and it’s about building long -term value through a superior, safe and secure experience.

What is the realistic likelihood of rivals like SeeTickets or Ticketmaster become a third-party partner of the AXS platform and/or its dynamic tech?

We would like to believe that everyone in our industry is as committed as we are to ensuring the safety of a fan’s ticket purchase and eliminating counterfeiting and fraud.

Our technology is a powerful and proven weapon against these illegal and unscrupulous practices and that’s why it is incumbent upon us to make it available to all ticket retailers as a method of delivery for events at our client’s venues. Our expectation is that all ticketing retailers are aligned in protecting fans from counterfeiting and fraud.

How do you respond to the idea that you’re curbing the free/open market?

Live music events are an intimate relationship between artists and their fans. Our core motivation is to enable artists to better manage that relationship for their long-term benefit. Artists know they could charge more for tickets in lots of cases and they choose not to because they recognise and understand that that relationship is the foundation of their longevity.

So, if they choose not to sell those tickets at the maximum price they can get for those reasons, shouldn’t we empower them?

Short term profit is not the only factor at play and the artists know that.

We are providing a platform and a set of technologies that is furthering the interests of the artists and their fans. We’re not selling used cars , we’re selling tickets to an extraordinary experience, an intimate relationship, a memory of a lifetime.

How do you think this compares to Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan system – what advantages do you feel you have?

Clearly we all have the same goal, which is to ensure the true fan gets into the venue.

By dramatically impacting the ability of touts and profiteers to take advantage of the consumer we feel like we are going a long way towards giving all fans a fair shot at purchasing tickets regardless of simply their economic ability to pay more than someone else. By curbing touts’ ability to make a profit we hope that they will naturally withdraw from the market.

AXS Marketplace is the most sophisticated and effective platform to help achieve this because we have both the technology and the will to make it work without introducing any more steps into the existing process.

In your press release last week, AEG said they had observed a “noticeable shift” in the industry away from secondary ticketing. What have been the key pillars in that shift occurring?

Ultimately it’s the mobilization of artists and fans saying “enough is enough,” supported by forward -thinking organisations such as the FanFair Alliance and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse, among others, who have done amazing and valuable work highlighting the issues. They have created great momentum towards fairness and transparency.

You have adopted some of this tech in the US with great success, especially around sports games. Will you / do you cap ticket resale at 10% profit in the States? If not, why not?

The markets are very different and in particular the sports business in the US has firmly adopted dynamic pricing similar to the airline model.

Our plan is to listen to the needs of our clients in their individual markets and take a bespoke approach to their needs.

Will we see capped ticket resale in the US ? At the moment this is not what our North American clients are asking us for, but we will react and adapt accordingly if they do so in the future.

Would you like to see Google restrict the SEO weighting, esp through advertising, of pure secondary ticketing companies in its search results?

Our bigger concern is the surreptitious advertising that tries to convince people that they are purchasing an authentic ticket from an official retailer.

There are thousands of these sites, the web is littered with them, and they are deliberately and cynically manipulating people. We do feel that there needs to be stronger disclosure around the nature of these sites and whether they have actually secured authentic tickets.Music Business Worldwide

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