Ticketmaster UK this morning announced that it is shutting down both of its ticket resale sites, Get Me In! and Seatwave. The company plans to allow price-capped resale within its main website instead, starting later this year. It’s a dramatic move that will see the Live Nation ticketing company bail on conventional secondary ticketing across Europe.
Announcing that Get Me In! and Seatwave will shut down this autumn, Ticketmaster said in a blog post: “That’s right, we’ve listened and we hear you: secondary sites just don’t cut it anymore and you’re tired of seeing others snap up tickets just to resell for a profit. All we want is you, the fan, to be able to safely buy tickets to the events you love”.
It went on: “We’re launching a fan-to-fan ticket exchange on Ticketmaster, where you can easily buy tickets or sell tickets you can’t use through our website or app, at the price originally paid or less. The new Ticketmaster website will be rolled out in October in the UK and Ireland, and across Europe early next year. But from today, there will be no new events listed on Get Me In! or Seatwave”.
Ticket touting, of course, became big business in the 2000s as internet usage went mainstream, with sellers originally using sites like eBay before various bespoke ticket resale platforms entered the market. Those sites have always insisted that they exist to allow individuals who can no longer attend a show to sell on their tickets, but it’s no secret that a significant portion of the tickets actually shifted on the secondary market are sold by industrial-level touts who have turned touting into a lucrative business.
By the late 2000s, consumer rights groups, the music community and the political community were all raising concerns about the rise of these industrial-level touts, and a trend that saw tickets for in-demand shows immediately snapped up from primary sites and then posted on the secondary market at a sizable mark-up. The political community called on the music industry to get its house in order. The music industry said the political community needed to regulate the touts. Meanwhile the ticket resale market boomed.
As it became clear that politicians were in no mood to regulate ticket touting in the UK – beyond football and later the Olympics – some in the live music industry adopted an ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ approach. As a result some promoters, venues, artists, managers and agents started to tout their own tickets, either directly or via brokers. Meanwhile Ticketmaster moved into the secondary ticketing space through acquisition.
Campaigning against ticket touting subsided for a while, but in more recent years has gained new momentum. In the UK, long-term anti-touting campaigner Sharon Hodgson MP teamed up with a colleague across the political divide, Mike Weatherley MP, and managed to sneak some light regulation of the secondary ticketing market into the 2015 Consumer Rights Act.
Although they didn’t get all the new rules they wanted – and it took a while for anyone to properly enforce the new regulations – the CRA also saw the government commit to commission a review of the secondary ticketing market. That kept the conversation going and saw those in the music community who opposed ticket touting – including managers, promoters, agents and primary ticket sellers – regroup to create the FanFair campaign.
Since then there has been much more enthusiasm in Westminster and Whitehall to regulate the resale of tickets for profit and some big name acts have ramped up their efforts to limit to touting of tickets to their shows. Meanwhile a number of resale services that cap the mark-up have emerged, including within various primary ticketing platforms. Live music giant AEG recently made a big splash about its new anti-tout, capped resale service that it is launching within its own AXS ticketing platform.
This created an interesting dilemma for Ticketmaster, part of AEG’s main rival Live Nation since 2010. It moved into secondary ticketing during the ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ phase, with Get Me In! operating in the UK and Seatwave in multiple European markets. Online ticket touting is lucrative for the resale sites as well as the touts, because they generally charge much higher fees than primary ticketing services. And unlike the touts themselves, the sites don’t take a hit when it turns out there’s less demand than expected for big name shows.
However, it became an issue in PR terms for Live Nation as momentum grew around the anti-touting campaigns in multiple European countries, and especially the UK. By operating sites like Get Me In! and Seatwave, it meant that whenever touting was debated in political circles, Live Nation and Ticketmaster found themselves on the opposite side of the table to their colleagues in the music community, instead sitting next to the StubHubs of the world.
Ticketmaster’s decision to shut down its resale sites, and instead follow its competitors in the primary ticketing market in offering capped resale functionality on its main site, applies only in Europe. In particular, Live Nation’s significant resale operations will continue in the US. Nevertheless, it’s a big moment in the ongoing story of online ticket touting.
The FanFair campaign said in a statement this morning: “After a long campaign to change the UK ticketing market and to put power into the hands of artists and their fans, the Fanfair Alliance warmly welcomes this move by Ticketmaster”.
It went on: “While enforcement action is still urgently required to clamp down on rogue operators such as Viagogo, we are now much closer to a genuine transformation of the secondary market – where large-scale online touts are locked out, where innovation can flourish, and the resale of tickets is made straightforward, transparent and consumer-friendly. We look forward to the roll out from October this year and seeing how these changes work in practice”.
Meanwhile Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the Music Managers Forum, a key supporter of the FanFair campaign, said: “The FanFair campaign has completely changed the debate in the ticketing market moving from a tired acceptance of ticket touting to a widespread adoption of fan-to-fan face value exchanges by all the major ticketing partners. This is hugely positive for British artists and the future of live music”.
Today’s move was also welcomed by the UK government, with Digital And Creative Industries Minister Margot James telling reporters: “We want real fans to be able to see their favourite artists and events at a fair price. This is a welcome move from Ticketmaster and shows that they’re following our lead and taking a tough stance on cracking down on unacceptable behaviour in the secondary ticket market”.
Get Me In! and Seatwave will stay online for a little while longer while transactions are completed on existing tickets for sale. However no new ticket listings will be taken and the new Ticketmaster site will launch in October in the UK, before rolling out elsewhere in Europe next year. Concluding in its blog post this morning, Live Nation’s ticketing business wrote: “We’re excited about making ticketing simpler. All you need to think about are those incredible experiences you’ll never forget”.[from https://ift.tt/2lvivLP]