Feature: Is Secondary Ticketing Killing Small Bands?

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Words by Phoebe Randall , photos by Getty Images & viagogo.com

The Royal Albert Hall’s former president, Richard Lyttelton, has labelled the venue a ‘national disgrace’ after it promotes selling on tickets to secondary ticketing sites. With people purchasing tickets and re-selling them for profit, secondary ticketing is something that is increasingly becoming more of an issue.

But what does this mean for smaller venues? With fans spending excessive amounts of money on secondary ticketing sites like Viagogo to see their favourite artists, is this leaving them out of pocket to spend money on smaller bands?

Ignition Management co-founder Marcus Russell stated in a conference at Southampton Solent University, “The simple market has been hijacked by pirates,” suggesting they are consequently “sucking all disposable money on seeing other live bands.” Not only does this mean money is not going to smaller bands/venues, but stops genuine fans from getting tickets to larger gigs too. Russell further stated, “I’ve never seen the interest in live music diminish in the last few years as much as this.”

Southampton Solent Music Promotion student Toby Robinson feels touting sites are impacting smaller venues and bands and could be detrimental to the future of live music. “Secondary ticketing exploits fans who could be going to more shows and supporting local venues but they’re paying up to three times the price and it means they can’t afford to go to other shows. This is affecting grassroots venues, local bands and harming the development of the industry as a whole.”

When local Southampton band Creeper sold out tickets to their £13.50 show at The 1865, Ticketmaster began directing fans to StubHub which was selling on tickets for £90.

Ricky Bates, promoter of Wrong Way Round Promotions, runs the majority of shows put on throughout Southampton. Posting on the ‘Creeper Cult’ Facebook page, he stated, “We need to combat this disgusting behaviour, none of the money goes back to the band or the venue just to profiteering horrible humans.” He continued to suggest that it’s up to the fans and venues themselves to stop buying from these sites, as “we need to stop the secondary ticket market as it’s hands down killing the live music sector.”

With Viagogo selling Ed Sheeran tickets for up to £2,330 for his charity gig, Teenage Cancer Trust, decided it was time to speak out. With the profits being donated to the charity, the FanFair Alliance accused the website of “moral repugnance”. With the event’s poster stating, “Only use official ticket vendors”, it raises the question – is it the ticket sites that should be helping? Robinson suggests that maybe it’s the fans that have to take it into their own hands. “I boycott Ticketmaster because they support ticket reselling and I’ll only ever buy them off ticket sites like Twickets because they’re not exploiting the fans.”

With websites like Ticketmaster encouraging fans to purchase through these sites, Robinson may be right. Fans may need to take matters into their own hands to make a difference in the market, even if this means missing out on seeing their favourite artist. David Newton suggests fans using Twickets as it means “Genuine fans can put their tickets on a place they know another genuine fan could use them.” The less demand for tickets through these sites, the less the tickets will be supplied.

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