Yesterday, Ticketmaster announced their intention to close down their secondary ticket vending site Seatwave. This site, and others like it such as GetMeIn, were set up for fans to be able to sell tickets to events if their circumstances have changed and they can’t attend. Of course, this was a smokescreen. The site was used by touts, to sell tickets for profit. As anyone who has missed out on tickets that sold out immediately knows, the tickets appear within minutes on tout sites for hundreds of euros. Ticketmaster then take 10% of the resale value, so they benefit greatly from this system.
So, have they suddenly been stricken by conscience and decided to take down the site out of concern for genuine music fans? Of course not. This decision comes less than three weeks after the announcement of new legislation effectively banning touting. A submission by Seatwave itself during public consultation stated that the legislation “will be both ineffective and will, in fact, be detrimental to Irish fans”.
How exactly is fans buying tickets at (already extremely high) face-value prices detrimental?
Ticketmaster already levy huge service charges on ticket prices. In fact, it is more expensive to buy the ticket online than it is to go to a physical Ticketmaster outlet. What exactly is the online ‘handling fee’ for? The charges are arbitrary, as the company has a monopoly on almost every large (1000+ capacity) venue in the country. There is no regulation, so they can, and do, charge whatever they want. So even before touting comes into play, event-goers are being ripped off.
A number of artists have taken matters into their own hands, and insisted on eliminating touts. The method used is incredibly simple. The gigs are ticketless, and you are admitted to the venue only with the card you used to make the booking on. If you’d booked four tickets, your three mates go in the door at the same time. Now, the downside is that you must book online to have to pay the handling fees mentioned above, and you don’t get a hard copy ticket for your collection. But the benefits outweigh these downsides. Both Iron Maiden and The National used this system on their recent tours. At both gigs last year, in The Point and Vicar St respectively, there wasn’t a tout in sight, and getting into the venue was quick and seamless. If only every other artist would insist on a similar system.
In the meantime, there are also genuine decent people who are unable to make it to an event, and want to sell a ticket to a fellow fan for face value. Toutless is excellent for this, and anyone who tries to use it to sell tickets for above face value gets swiftly booted off the site. I have used this many times to get tickets to sold-out events. Another handy source is Facebook event pages, where people with spare tickets often try to get rid of them. Though unlike Toutless, these pages aren’t moderated this method requires some caveat emptor.
For those of us that go to a lot of events, this new legislation is welcome news. How it is enforced remains to be seen, but this is an encouraging start. Music fans are tired of being taken advantage of by the twin parasites of Ticketmaster and the touts, neither of whom have any regard for the actual event or the fans. I’ve mentioned music a lot throughout this piece, but all the above applies to other shows, sports events etc. While viewed as hobbies and forms of entertainment for most of us, they are viewed as opportunities for extortion by these vile, soulless, leeches. So, if you ever tout tickets, please go take a good long look in the mirror, then throw yourself off a building. Thanks in advance.