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30.11.12 Music Week 3


disclose those who use its website to resell tickets for profit. The supreme court

ruled that Viagogo will have to disclose the names of people who sold tickets for England rugby matches via its website to the Rugby Football Union. The site in turn dismissed the ruling as a


major artists, festivals and sports events all the way through. Every year we’ve added partners to our portfolio, and I think it’s definitely accelerated. The fact that this season we’ve gone from working with three Premier League teams to ten is a good testament.

The Rolling Stones gigs and the massive secondary ticket prices caused a lot of upset recently. How do you respond to that? Our response is always the same: yes, there are a few chancers putting tickets up for ridiculous prices, and those tickets don’t sell. Look at the tickets that are the

lowest price because they give you an idea of what people are actually paying. This summer, you could get Reading/Leeds tickets for half price the week before the event, you could get Bestival tickets around face value, you could get V Festival tickets at face value, Isle of Wight tickets were half price – where are the inflated prices here? These are tickets that are

reselling in large quantities at face value or below. Yes, I admit, there are some really hot gigs that have been sold out where people are prepared to pay a premium to get in, and therefore tickets will resell at higher prices.

Rolling debate: Prices for the band’s O2 shows sparked angry comment

“hollow” one-off victory that it predicted would not end up acting as a damaging precedent. The news came just

nine months after

Channel 4’s explosive Dispatches documentary The Great Ticket Scandal, which showed for the first time Viagogo being allocated primary tickets directly by

promoters to sell at a premium on the secondary market. On the page opposite, Music

Week grills Viagogo marketing boss Edward Parkinson on what the new court ruling means for his business, whilst, below, Live Nation Entertainment COO Paul Lathamsets out the case from the point of view of the world’s biggest promoter…

THE CONTENTIOUS ISSUES around ticketing will be explored on the evening of December 5 in London in a two-part MusicTank debate that promises to explore innovation and regulation. It will include a case study from Radiohead’s most

recent tour and a presentation from Aline Renet of PRODISS, the French live music trade organisation that successfully lobbied for legislative change to give French promoters control over their tickets.

‘A parasitic businesswith no investment inmusic’

By Paul Latham, COO of Live Nation Entertainment

Promoters have argued for several years that secondary ticketing needs legislation. The rampant proliferation of the secondary market has created a parasitic business for profiteers who have no investment in the music industry. This creates a huge problem

for those who have long-term interests in the financial stability of the business. If this high-tech touting prevails unchecked, how do those with juice in the game either control it or take a piece of it? Why should artists that put

their creativity on display, or promoters that risk millions in artist guarantees, not try to harness some of that grey market? It is a matter of fact that in

the UK Live Nation places less than 1% of its controlled tickets directly into the secondary market with one or other of these platforms. Other than in the odd

proprietary event, these are invariably at the behest of artist management/agents and settlement is in the same ratio as the artist’s contract. On the odd occasion (Kings

of Leon, notably) we have put considerably higher allocations across all platforms to dilute the price and mitigate profiteering. On more occasions we have listed tickets at below face value as a form of dynamic pricing.

Paul Latham

The problem does not

necessarily lie within the immediate control of artists/ promoters. Every major on-sale sees primary ticketing company websites attacked by bots seeking to claim as much inventory as possible by these resellers. It is no coincidence that

minutes after a public on-sale - or indeed pre-sale - the sold-out signs go up on primary sales and hundreds of tickets are posted on the secondary platforms. Any homespun theories by

past Government officials that it is a free market and people must be able to resell their tickets if they cannot go to events is blown out of the water by the fact that more than 70% of these tickets posted are by “power-sellers”.

“We cannot be so naïve to think that our customers wake up each day and worry whether they are buying a primary or secondary ticket… those are industry terms”

They have no other

connection to the music business other than they are tech-savvy enough to gain access to vast swathes of tickets. In some circumstances they

post “futures” whereby they flog tickets they do not have in their possession, on the basis that if they get a high enough price they will eventually be able to source real tickets at a lesser price to serve their customer. If not, they just stiff the customer and disappear into the ether. At least Get Me In, Viagogo

and Seatwave have customer guarantees to provide the tickets. There are many more nefarious sites that use their lack of infrastructure and overhead to buy Google ad-words to push

unsuspecting desperate fans to virtual extortion. The technology does exist to

make it harder for tickets to be resold, with non-transferable bar- codes rather than hard tickets, but at the moment that may not be the greatest customer experience, in particular at the venue. Those ticket companies that

have worked with venues and promoters for many years, and are playing the long game, will improve security, both against the bots and in ticket distribution, but this can be at huge development cost and is sometimes difficult to justify while money pours out of the business due to the lack of supporting legislation. We cannot be so naïve to

think that our customers wake up each day and worry if they are buying a primary or a secondary ticket... those are industry terms. The call to action and the

passion derives from wanting to see their favourite artists/ festivals and they have to be comfortable paying the price they can afford. If we are to keep the prices

Avoiding a King’s ransom?: Live Nation occasionally allocates more tickets across all platforms to reduce profiteering – as it did with Kings Of Leon

affordable so that our audiences don’t just comprise of the “prawn- sandwich brigade” we need to find a way of keeping the money in the industry. We must let those who want to pay extra for tickets subsidise those who cannot - those fans who are the majority and the lifeblood of our live music industry. We are all in this together.

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