Thursday, October 4, 2018

Ignore the distractions: the future of ticket resale is ethical. | Music Business Worldwide

The following MBW blog comes from Richard Davies (pictured), founder of Twickets – the UK-born face value, fan-to-fan ticket exchange.

It would not be hyperbole to say that is has been a seismic couple of months for the secondary ticketing market.

We have seen global corporations such as AXS , Eventim and TicketMaster perform a major  volte face on their resale business models and have witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of Viagogo litigating against one of the country’s biggest live music promoters while flagrantly  ignoring government demands  to appear in front of a select committee – a shabby move to sidestep being questioned by MPs and to avoid evidence about their shady operations being put to them.

Added to this , and despite reforming its resale policies in Europe, Ticketmaster have also come under the spotlight recently regarding its ‘TradeDesk’ platform.

Furthermore, Stubhub has questioned Ticketmaster’s motives for closing its secondary sites calling the move, “secondary ticketing in all but name,” and stating  that it is simply an attempt to consolidate the ticketing market, which will ultimately mean that consumers have less choice as the total availability of tickets for an event are not disclosed.

But, of course, Stubhub themselves are frantically deflecting to take attention away from recent claims , made by a former employee at their wholly owned subsidiary Tiketbis, that this particular resale platform is dominated by 50 ‘supertouts.’

These events have continued to shine a spotlight on the continuing issues surrounding the secondary ticketing market but in reality they are a distraction from what is really happening.

What the increasingly vocal reaction to these events actually highlights is a welcome pivot away from industrial touting and a significant move towards creating a fair and ethical resale environment.

Artists, their representatives and real fans have long argued for this and are now standing up to the scurrilous  practices of scalpers and the platforms on which they operate.

Credit should also go to those promoters who are supporting these moves: Kilimanjaro boss Stuart Galbraith, for example,  has nothing less than the full support of Twickets as he prepares to fight his upcoming, laughable court case against the aforementioned Viagogo.

Any moves, therefore,  to promote the trading of tickets at face value are to be welcomed but let’s not kid ourselves – this has not come about through altruism, it is a direct reaction to a long and hard-fought campaign of sustained pressure.

The key to forcing out of business those platforms that exist solely to profiteer from reselling tickets has always been straightforward – convince fans not to use them and provide them with a viable alternative.

Education has been at the heart of this process.

Fans now have a real understanding of how secondary sites operate and the many ethical choices available to them , thanks mainly to artists being more vocal on the issue alongside the important work being undertaken by FanFair Alliance, which was established to unite members of music and creative community who wish to take a stand against industrial-scale online ticket touting.

Added to this, and due in no small part to highly effective parliamentary lobbying by a number of industry organisations,  new legislation has been introduced as lawmakers begin to fully grasp the problems caused by abuses of the secondary market.

Technology also continues to play a major part in helping stop the manipulation of this market.

More mobile friendly systems, biometrics, dynamic barcodes and the blockchain are just some of the many innovations now available to vendors to ensure that tickets become a ‘right to entry’ rather than a commodity and that they are tied to individual purchasers with all the rights and privileges that entails.

This is turn helps prevent fraud, increases venue security and creates a fair and transparent fan-to-fan resale environment, which ensures tickets are always traded at face value and not at rip-off prices.

We have already seen how these ideals can be implemented effectively and the stand taken by major artists such as Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran and Catfish and the Bottlemen in recent times, all of  whom have taken the decision to cancel tickets for their shows purchased through unauthorised channels, has served to highlight an increasing determination to redress the balance in favour of real fans.

It is worth noting also that the focus of this activity to date has been very much on Europe but there are real indications that other key markets are starting to emulate our example.

As our own company continues to expand into territories across the world including North America and Asia  we have received great support from artists such as Elton John, Eric Church, Mumford and Sons, Pixies, Interpol and Ed Sheeran to name but a few.

However,  we are not complacent – far from it. We are not naïve enough to think that these issues will disappear completely.

Whilst we applaud the decision to close sites such as Seatwave and Get Me In and see this as a major milestone in the fight against touting  we know that this activity in the short term is likely to be displaced to social media and e-commerce sites such as Facebook, Gumtree, Craigslist and others.

We therefore need to keep our focus on making  the ethical trading of tickets an engaging and compelling proposition for fans and that means thinking about how these new innovations and thought processes might affect them.

What, for example,  does the fan experience look like in this new world ?

Above all we need to keep things simple and transparent for both the artist and the fan.

As the only platform that can trade any ticket, to any event across the world, always capped at face value, we know, probably better than anyone , that there will be an ongoing arms race to prevent the exploitation of fans.

But we also know that it is only a matter of time before industrial touting becomes so toxic and the alternatives so attractive  that it becomes untenable as a business model.

The future, we believe, is face value. The future is ethical.

Music Business Worldwide


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