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Progress on resale, but fight is not over Ed Sheeran’s team cancelled 10,000 touted tickets

1 June 2018
FanFair Event

SIGNIFICANT STEPS are being made to beat ticket touts who rip-off music fans, by removing the supply chain to the resale sites, delegates at a FanFair Alliance (FFA) meeting in London were told.

The event, supported by the Music Managers Forum, heard that Ed Sheeran and Arctic Monkeys are among those implementing measures which attempt to stop tickets reaching the secondary market.

These include printing names on tickets and requiring ID on entry, a four-ticket maximum and cancelling tickets listed on resale, as well as highlighting the ticket is a personal/revocable license which belongs to the promoter.

Arctic Monkeys manager Ian McAndrew revealed the tactics had helped ensure only a small percentage of the 190,000 tickets sold for the band’s forthcoming tour had been listed on secondary platforms.

“None of these tickets were listed on [Ticketmaster-owned] Seatwave and Get Me In or [eBay-owned] StubHub, but some were listed on Viagogo, which is one of the companies which continues to ignore and fails to adhere to consumer law,” said McAndrew of Wildlife Entertainment, a co-founder of FFA in July 2016.

“Out of the Big 4, there are three observing consumer rights legislation and that is a big development in our business.”

To combat touting for Ed Sheeran’s UK stadium tour, co-promoters Kilimanjaro Live and DHP Family, along with Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp, appointed ethical secondary platform Twickets as official resale partner, where tickets can only be resold at face value or below.

The tour went on-sale on a Saturday, instead of the traditional Friday, to ensure genuine fans were online and had no pre-sale.

Kilimanjaro’s Stuart Galbraith also threatened resale sites with prosecution under the Consumer Rights Act, with a potential fine of £5,000 per ticket for listing.

Despite that, 500 tickets listed by Viagogo had to be cancelled for Sheeran’s show at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium (63,000) on 24 May, and another 10,000 across the tour invalidated (see LIVE UK issue 210), with £240,000 refunded to the initial purchasers, after it went on sale.

“We refunded everybody even if they’re power sellers and touts, so we can’t be accused of taking double income off a single ticket,” said Galbraith, who also disclosed attempts by Viagogo to take him to court for slander had been “rebuffed very strongly”.

“I’m hopeful in the next two years we will be able to control our own ticketing, without committing the same amount of resources in as we are now.”

A further measure available to protect against touting and fraud is Unique Ticket Numbers (UTNs), introduced as part of the Digital Economy Bill, and being used by The Pixies for five dates at London’s Roundhouse (cap. 3,100). The Crosstown Concerts-promoted shows will be the first time UTNs have been used, with See Tickets the primary ticketing agency.

“We’ve clearly stated on See’s website that The Pixies have undertaken the UTNs to protect their fans from being ripped-off from unfair and misleading practices, and tickets stay in the hands of their fans,” said Crosstown’s Paul Hutton.

Iron Maiden’s manager Rod Smallwood of Phantom Music Management extoled the virtues of paperless tickets, in collaboration with Ticketmaster, which helped reduce the amount of tickets listed on resale sites from 6,294 for the 2010 UK tour to 207 in 2016.

“We had a team at every show helping fans, authorising transfers and refunds if tickets were invalid and will be doing the same on the upcoming tour,” said Smallwood.

More than 100 promoters, agents and managers attended the event at Regent Street Cinema.

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