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.
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