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The real ticket scandal - how much profits are the bands making?

Written on Mon 27 Feb 2012

Channel 4 Despatches has done a great job in exposing some of the less salubrious practices in the ticketing industry. But an important question remains unanswered - how much of the profit from the inflated ticket prices are going to the bands and promoters?

The simple fact is that some bands and events are just too popular, and there are more people who want tickets than there are tickets available. And, as anyone with a GCSE in Economics will know, the market response when demand exceeds supply is for prices to rise. As the price of tickets continues to rise then fans will simply shake their heads and walk away.

But this ruthless market-driven approach has a major drawback. It means that many music and sporting events are destined to become solely available for the very rich. Is this what we want? The Rugby Football Union don’t think so, and they have gone to great lengths to keep their sport open to a wide section of the public (and they have successfully challenged Viagogo in the High Court). Glastonbury Festival has also tried very hard to keep a broad audience.

Unfortunately many other promoters have chosen to adopt the maxim “Money talks and bullsh*t walks”. So they have looked at ways of raising their prices, without making it too obvious, and they have adopted a market model called ‘Premium Primary Ticketing’. Put simply, this means that the best tickets in the house get sold at higher prices. And as the demand rises then more tickets can get sold for more cost. In their statement following the Despatches programme the Concert Promoters Association acknowledged this model, and they added:-

We are sure that those fans who use the secondary market for convenience and are prepared to pay a premium would be happier that the premium went to the artist via the promoter rather than went to a tout.

What sticks in our throats here is the deceit. If the promoters decide that a premium ticket pricing model is going to be adopted then they should state this up front. They should acknowledge that certain seats are unavailable at the regular price, and should give clear consumer information to fans and ticket-buyers that they are doing so. They should be taking the flak for this scandal, rather than the secondary sites that they themselves gave the tickets to.

And what about the bands themselves? They have been remarkably quiet over this. But the CPA statement seems to acknowledge that the bands are in on the whole deal and are also taking a slice of the action. Are they conniving with the whole process? Or do they deny that this is happening?

Sharon Hodgson’s Proposed Law might not be able to stop the ‘Premium Primary Ticketing’ model, but it would give an air of transparency to the whole process. If bands wanted to charge £1000 for the front-row seats then they could still do so. But at least they would have to be honest about it.



Comments on 'The real ticket scandal - how much profits are the bands making?'

I’m so glad there’s people aware of what in my mind is criminal activity who get away with it on technicality ie. the internet doesn’t count a public place and be prosicuted like a tout outside a venue.I have written to my local mp but I keep hitting walls they are quite happy for people to continue to be ripped off.its disgusting, your website is brilliant and breath of fresh air in such a corperate money grabbing world we live in.keep up the good job:)

Posted by zombiella25 on 14 Apr 2012      Report abuse or inappropriate comments

My MP actually range me up about this and discussed it with me. He agreed that it was a disgusting practice and pledged to support the members bill proposed by Sharon Hodgson, but sadly he explained that member’s bills are generally dismissed out of hand unless they have party support due to the politics in play at Westminster. Basically unless there’s a lobby group or a party line to please, changes are discouraged. He specifically mentioned a ‘fillibustering old tory’ which I am more than happy to believe (and seems plausible regarding regulatory laws to benefit the public) but I admit there’s a confirmation bias going on there.

Nice to get a response though. And as said by Zombiella, your website is brilliant and a breath of fresh air in such a corporate world.

Posted by Guinea101 on 04 May 2012      Report abuse or inappropriate comments

I like to think that I make my veiws heard by NOT paying the inflated prices - maybe when bands see the first ten rows are empty they might just get a clue.

Posted by Er1nyes on 14 Jun 2012      Report abuse or inappropriate comments

perhaps if 95% of the world wasn’t illegally downloading music for nothing, bands could keep ticket prices at the level they used to be. most of you have driven prices up by taking a hugely important source of income away from professional musicians.

Posted by GordyBoy on 17 Jun 2012      Report abuse or inappropriate comments

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Live Nation confesses - we supply tickets to touts
Government tout report step in the right direction
Secondary Market (thats touts) *still* breaking the law

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