The music industry’s battle with ticket touts has been a vicious and seemingly never ending one. There have been countless opinion pieces by music journalists on their immorality and major artists such as Ed Sheeran have warned their fans of the exploitative practices of ticket touts and launched schemes to avert fans from buying from them. It seems like the music industry has its highest defences up against the reselling industry.
The issue has even caught the attention of the UK government itself, as in July 2018 a law was passed that will result in any ticket resellers who are caught using bots receiving an unlimited fine. However, despite the fact that the UK government has come to the music industry’s aid, adding greatly to the strong defence systems already in place, it seems like this perpetual battle is not over yet.
I say this as on the 19th of July, Billboard broke the news that ticket seller Live Nation was purposefully reselling tickets in masses to ticket scalps.
More specifically, Live Nation’s president of U.S concerts, Bob Roux, covertly sold 88,000 Metallica tickets in 2017 directly to third party ticket selling sites such as Stubhub in order to increase not only Live Nation’s profits but Metallica’s.
Additionally, it was disclosed by Live Nation in a statement to Billboard that roughly a dozen other artists during 2016 and 2017 asked Live Nation to do the same. The former was revealed as Billboard acquired a phone call that was secretly recorded by Vaughn Millette, another executive who was on the line, between Roux and Metallica’s “ticketing manager” Tony DiCioccio in which they discuss their plans of how to sell the aforementioned tickets. Ironically – and despite the tour grossing $111,000,000 – Millette ultimately lost money due to his scheme.
Will this be turned into a moral fable to show the evils and unfortunate outcomes of the greed of ticket resellers? Most definitely. But will that deter any ticket touts from their business? Almost certainly not. Right now it seems that virtually nothing will deter ticket scalps and the people who work with them: not journalists, not artists themselves and not the government.
Right now it seems that virtually nothing will deter ticket scalps and the people who work with them: not journalists, not artists themselves and not the government.
However, what stories like this can do is add to the ongoing discussions surrounding ticket touts and how to tackle them. They can further highlight the greed and exploitative practices of the ticket reselling business, which many people seem to know about but do not fully understand.
If more people understand and are rightfully outraged and the public outcry is heard, this has the potential to create new discussions with law makers on more effective ways to fight exploitative ticket scalps. I understand that to some this will likely sound like highly wishful idealism, but I truly believe that the only truly effective way to stop corrupt ticket touts is with government action and the only way we, as the public, can affect that is by using our voices.
Of course, the methods used by artists themselves to combat ticket touts have proved somewhat successful but also just as controversial. Immediately Taylor Swift’s 2017 scheme to stop ticket touts springs to mind. Her system of giving fans “boosts” (or more simply, rewards) when they post on social media about her, buy her album or her merchandise drew the ire of many with some opining that she was exploiting her own fans and valuing profits over art. Furthermore, the system was criticised as still being open to ticket touts who were willing to pay the high price of a ticket.
Other artists such as Ed Sheeran and Noel Gallagher opted for simpler methods to battle the reselling industry as they required fans to bring multiple forms of ID that match the ticket holder’s name to their shows.
These methods were arguably more impervious than Swift’s and gained less criticism but that nonetheless caused complications for many genuine people who had to sell their tickets for valid reasons, or fans who bought second hand tickets from fellow-fans. I believe that ultimately, despite how secure and well intentioned an artist’s plan to battle touts is, their plans will be flawed to some extent . The most effective way to stop the exploitation of fans by touts is through adequate legal action.
Art is not an excess. Art is necessary for life. When ticket scalps and people like DiCioccio and Roux exploit the human desire and need for such a meaningful experience simply because of their own selfish greed, they are not only compromising their own morals and exploiting the bank accounts of music fans but are exploiting and devaluing art and vital parts of humanity that art caters to. This is why ticket scalps offend and outrage me and why I refuse to stop talking about them until we see the most effective measures taken against them.
But until those measures are carried out, whether you are an artist, a politician or just a member of the public do what you can to value art: stop ticket touts and make a change.
Words by Emma Reilly