Saturday 24 March 2018

Pixies lead fight against ticket tout 'scoundrels'

Pixies: Helping fight touts after seeing tickets for their shows selling online for over €950
Pixies: Helping fight touts after seeing tickets for their shows selling online for over €950

Rob Davies

One of the world's most influential rock bands has denounced "rogues and scoundrels" selling gig tickets at huge mark-ups, as parts of the music industry prepares to fightback against touts.

Pixies, cited as an inspiration by Nirvana, Radiohead and Blur, have overhauled ticket sales for their current UK tour to loosen the lucrative stranglehold that professional touts have on ticket supply. Tickets for their gigs at London's O2 Brixton Academy have appeared online for more than £800 (€950), compared with their face value of £32.50 (€39), after touts hoovered them up for resale via "secondary ticketing" websites such as Viagogo, StubHub and GetMeIn.

One Direction: Yui Mok/PA Wire
One Direction: Yui Mok/PA Wire

But the band have managed to limit the problem by channelling half of the tickets for their London shows via Songkick, a website aimed at music fans that uses technology to help stop touts harvesting tickets.

"Our fans mean an awful lot to us," Pixies frontman Black Francis said. "The fact that any of them would be taken advantage of by rogues and scoundrels trying to fleece them with wildly inflated ticket prices is simply not acceptable.

"Band members Joey, Dave, Paz, our manager Richard Jones and I intend to do everything we can to put a stop to this," he said. Jones will speak at an industry summit in London, when figures from the music world will discuss how to beat touts who use "secondary ticketing" to make huge profits at the expense of fans .

Jones has said in the past that continued inaction was allowing touts to do lasting damage to the music scene.

"Scalping [profiteering] has always been around - but what has happened recently is that it has become institutionalised, very corporate in its mechanics," he said. "If you sell a show out in two minutes, you see three or four hundred tickets on a secondary ticket site just a few minutes later. There's obviously something sinister - and technically organised - for that to happen so quickly."

Jones' view was supported by Friday's release of tickets to see US rock band Green Day, which sold out within minutes at their face value of £39.50 (€46), but were listed on resale site Viagogo that evening for more than £400 (€470).

"If we charged twice as much for tickets, we would make more money and could put on a bigger show, but we don't," said Jones. "We cut our cloth accordingly because we feel that's the ethically right price for our fans to pay. Then you find out 30pc of them have spent double face value - that doesn't feel good."

Jones, who has also managed the Spice Girls, said there was a limited amount that artists could achieve without support from politicians.

"The fact is for this to be changed and for this problem to be dealt with, we have to have legislation," he said.

Like Pixies, several bands have come up with their own measures to ensure as many tickets as possible end up in the hands of genuine fans.

Bristolian trip-hop outfit Massive Attack drip-fed 1,000 tickets for their hometown show earlier this month to Twickets, a mobile app that allows fans to exchange tickets at face value. The world's biggest boy band, One Direction, also released tickets via Twickets on their last tour.

The aim was to scupper touts' pricing by making face-value tickets available at the same time that touts were trying to squeeze the highest possible price out of fans. And music retailer Fopp has also collaborated with Twickets to allow fans to pick up and drop off tickets for each other at in-store collection points.

Richard Davies, founder of Twickets, said: "We want to make it easier for music fans to purchase official gig tickets at face value and stop them losing out to touts and secondary sites selling at inflated prices with exorbitant booking fees."


Sunday Independent

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