Monday 21 August 2017

Comment: Ed Sheeran ticket touts are making a killing - and we only have ourselves to blame

Ed Sheeran performs on the Pyramid Stage during Glastonbury. Photo: REUTERS
Ed Sheeran performs on the Pyramid Stage during Glastonbury. Photo: REUTERS
Michael O'Doherty

Michael O'Doherty

There’s a line in The Godfather Part II that finds the senator for Nevada hustling Michael Corleone for money in return for a gaming licence for a new casino.

Commenting on the senator’s dislike of his family because of their involvement in illegality, Corleone famously replies: “Senator, we’re all part of the same hypocrisy.”

It’s a line that came to mind when reading about Ed Sheeran’s concert tickets being sold through what are euphemistically known as “re-selling” sites but are, as everyone knows, a marketplace for touts.

In an attempt to clamp down on touts, Sheeran’s team insisted that people who originally bought tickets must turn up on the day.

However, this did not stop hundreds of tickets becoming available on sites such as viagogo.com within minutes of them officially selling out – and at hugely inflated prices. Cue the predictable level of outrage at this blatant  exploitation of fans, deprived of the chance to see Sheeran  by multiple tickets being snaffled by those whose only intention is to make a quick profit.

From a galloping horse, it may seem as though this is a legitimate complaint, and all our anger should be directed towards the websites that facilitate this daylight robbery. However, let’s just pause for thought and look at the wider issue.

The agency in charge of selling the tickets – Ticketmaster – is probably patting itself on the back for implicitly encouraging customers not to visit re-selling sites.

Ticketmaster, however, not only owns seatwave.com – another such site – it actually publicises the site beside its “sold out” signs for concerts.

And what of Sheeran’s management, who are trying to suggest they object to unjust exploitation of genuine fans by insisting on buyers showing their ID at the door?

Has it escaped people’s attention that the concerts are not taking place until next May, yet the tickets are on sale a full 10 months beforehand?

There’s only one reason for this. By securing €25m or so in cash from the advance sales, they stand to gain about €750,000 between now and the concerts just by banking the money and watching it gain interest.

Finally, there are the customers themselves. Huff and puff all you like, but the only thing that these re-selling sites are doing is satisfying a demand.

Nobody is obliging people to pay five times the face value for a ticket, and no matter how much people wail at this exploitation, the tickets always get bought, which simply encourages touts to get in line for the next concert.

Yes, there’s something unspeakably grubby about touts, and in a perfect world only those people who want to see the concert would be allowed to buy the tickets.

But do you know what? We’re all part of the same hypocrisy.

Herald

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