Rowena Field-Carter lets us know all about the world of buying tickets and the touts out to get you.
A few weeks ago, I had a morning that went something like this:
8:45am: Open Ticketmaster, See Tickets and other official ticket seller websites (on various tabs to give you more of a chance)
8:50am: Check Twitter and other social feeds to make sure tickets are still timed to go on release at 9am.
8:59am: Get ready…
9:00am: Flip back and forth manically between different tabs to try with any string of luck to get just two tickets to the Foo Fighters’ show in London next summer.
9:02am: None of the tabs are loading, Twitter is exploding with angry fans, and tickets are already appearing on second hand resale sites for more than double the price, at £190…
If you’ve ever experienced anything like this, then you’ll understand the feeling of complete rage and disillusionment towards the whole situation. Beyond the immediate questions of ‘how do the touts do it so quickly?’ and ‘how the hell is someone going to innovate a unique way to stop this in the future?’, you mostly feel pissed off that you didn’t get a ticket to see your favourite artist. Then suddenly the allure of a tout’s ticket becomes attractive, and you realise just how easy it is to fall in to the trap.
Ticket touting is when someone buys an event ticket and sells it on for more than face value, therefore making a handsome profit from the buyer. Although it might seem like harmless enterprise, it’s the fans that suffer. Often when a huge event ‘sells out’, there will be a large amount of empty spaces due to second hand tickets not being sold. Simply put, touts get in there, bulk buy as many tickets as possible, then make a profit from the loyal fans (try £24,000 for an Adele ticket…).
Unfortunately, those loyal fans are then right in the palm of the tout, and some pay the extortionate prices to see their favourite artists. This vicious cycle gets perpetuated by fans, and it seems almost impossible to stop. So, what do you do?
Well, firstly… NEVER BUY FROM A TOUT.
“Ticket touting is when someone buys an event ticket and sells it on for more than face value”
This won’t solve the problem, due to the sheer scale of it, but it’s a start. Why pay stupid prices for a ticket that doesn’t benefit the artist, the venue or yourself, especially when you might not get in using that ticket because of tightened ID checks?!
Some artists have taken matters in to their own hands, like Ed Sheeran, who cancelled 10,000 tickets for his upcoming 2018 tour that were found to be sold on resale sites for more than face value. Although this action is highly commendable, it probably caused a logistical nightmare, made fans even angrier, and isn’t a widespread solution for every artist. Then begs the question, why not just shut down the resale sites?
Under section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, it is illegal to resell football tickets, so why are gig and event tickets an exception? Even though touts have managed to evade the law in various ways to get around the legislation, it’s still a move in the right direction. Perhaps there needs to be an injection of innovation, or even a ticketing revolution. English heavy metal band Iron Maiden might just be the pioneers of that, with their ‘ticketless’ approach to gigs, now requiring fans to have only their ID and the card they used to purchase the tickets with, instead of a physical, scannable ticket. With bands like the Pixies, Red Hot Chili Peppers and One Direction potentially looking in to this as a method of sale in the future, the days of widescale ticket touting might be (hopefully) numbered.
Whatever the answer, it doesn’t seem that Taylor Swift has the right idea with her current exploitative ticket selling initiative. The latest scheme encourages fans to buy Swift merch and watch her videos countless times in order to increase their chances of getting a non-guaranteed ticket to one of her gigs next year. Not surprisingly, the merch isn’t cheap either; she’s selling her T-shirts for $50. It’s clever marketing, but not a progressive tout resistance. Plus, if more artists follow suit, then an increasing number of fans who aren’t necessarily able to afford the mountains of overpriced merchandise, automatically get excluded from the music, and then it becomes elitist, which is never what music should be about.
“Under section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, it is illegal to resell football tickets, so why are gig and event tickets an exception?”
So, put yourself in the hypothetical, yet very possible situation that you are waiting at 8.59am to buy tickets to see your favourite band, but by 9.02am the bots have beaten you, and Viagogo is showing tickets for triple the price. If there is anything you can take away from this, then do not be tempted to buy them! It really sucks, and millions of people can empathise with you, but encouraging touts and scamming fellow fans sucks more. Buying second hand tickets for inflated prices from a tout might give you a small chance at going to a ‘sold out’ show, but it’s an inefficient short-term solution to a hardened, long term problem. Perhaps recognising this will mean that situations like this can be avoided in the future; fans get to go to the shows, venues are at true max capacity, and the touts are nowhere to be seen.