There’s certain topics that I find myself getting into over on Twitter where the other Picky Bastards message and tell me to write a moan about that. It happens more often than I’m comfortable with, either I spend way too much of my time moaning, or I’m just naturally a complainer, but there’s one thing that I’ve been meaning to write about for ages that I’ve finally jumped into. Ticket Touts.
I love live music. You love live music. We all do, but there’s a cost to entry to contend with. It’s not just the almost extortionate ticket prices these days, you have fees and travel and accommodation if the artist is being a pain and only playing one show in London for their ‘UK Tour’. But we suffer through queuing up at 9am on Ticketmaster or GigsAndTours or AXS or wherever and we hope and pray we will get those tickets in our basket.
What happens when we can’t get the tickets on day one? Or you forget, or you are working at that time, or you don’t have a spare 200 quid that specific day? Ideally you wouldn’t resort to buying from a ticket tout, but I know so many people still do. Believe me, I’m not just talking about those people who stand outside of the gig on the night, those people probably aren’t even making a profit, they are that desperate, it’s also the touts on ViaGoGo and the like.
Say I want tickets to see Adele at Hyde Park, an example of one of the most sought after tickets in the upcoming calendar. Why is it okay that when I search ‘Adele Hyde Park Tickets’ the first two options are ViaGoGo and Stubhub, two of the biggest touting websites? Both sites are paying to be the first that appear, but I bet there are countless fans who just search this way and assume that these are legitimate ticketing sites. I know my parents have done it when trying to find the official site for Liverpool Arena and it can mean people buying dodgy and ridiculously overpriced tickets when there’s no need.
The cheapest tickets for Adele on those sites? You can get one for the tiny price of £537, nearly 6x the price of a face value ticket. The laugh of it all is some text that appears as soon as you go on that site: ‘Please note your ticket may not be valid for entry to the event.’. How is it legal to be able to sell on things that you can’t even guarantee will provide what they are supposed to? When Ed Sheeran made a massive deal about not accepting any tickets purchased through ViaGoGo, allowing fans to rebuy their seat on the night and get their money back from ViaGoGo to ensure no one was profiting from desperate fans I thought things might start to change, but it feels like it’s not improving.
Every time I hear stories about people saying they spent £2000 on tickets for Bon Jovi, the gig was cancelled and they couldn’t get a refund, I wonder if these people know that face value tickets exist and are more accessible than ever? There’s plenty of legitimate ways to grab face value tickets, SeeTickets have a great face value marketplace. But the best is Twickets who let you set up alerts and only ever allow a seller to sell for Face Value or less. Yes it’s less instant than paying over the odds to someone dodgy on another site, but it’s approved by artists and promoters alike as the key is never ripping off the fans. This isn’t a sponsored post for Twickets, but I’ve used them so often that it’s obvious to share.
Don’t think I’m finished moaning about touts yet though, because there’s one culprit at the centre of it all I’m about to call out for what I’d like to describe as legitimized touting: Ticketmaster.
Have you ever sat on Ticketmaster waiting to buy those seats for someone to then see the ‘we couldn’t find any tickets at that price’ message? Chances are you’ll see some Platinum Tickets appear instead, blocks and rows full of variably priced tickets costing way over face value of the seats should be, in my eyes these are as bad as the touts over on ViaGoGo. You’ve already got Ticketmaster taking an obscene ‘booking fee’ for what is an automated system at this point, but what they claim to be a process ‘to give the most passionate fans fair and safe access to the most in-demand tickets’ is little more than Ticketmaster buying and reselling their own tickets. It infuriates me and should do for you as well. If you asked an artist what their top price ticket was, do you honestly believe that any of them would buy into the bullshit that Ticketmaster is flogging here? The artists who care about their fans definitely would not.
Words by Sam Atkins