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Monday 22 July 2019

Tanya Sweeney: Why closing of Seatwave is welcome news for both genuine music fans and artists alike

Ticketmaster today announced the closure of ticket resale operations Seatwave and Get Me In with immediate effect

Britney Spears. Photographer: Scott Gries/ImageDirect
Britney Spears. Photographer: Scott Gries/ImageDirect

Tanya Sweeney

As sure as night follows day, a raft of disappointing tweets and posts follow any announcement of a decent gig selling out. It doesn’t matter if you have fingers quick as lightning bolts when trying to buy a ticket online: with websites like Seatwave and Get Me In snaffling a great many gig tickets for resale purposes, there have long been a lot of fed up music fans around. Or, if they really were desperate to see U2/Britney Spears/Ed Sheeran, they would need deep pockets. Very deep.

Well this week, Ticketmaster appear to have listened to their customers’, eh, robust feedback (or, just maybe, are pre-emptively striking ahead of new anti-touting legislation coming in the next few months). The ticketing behemoth announced that, with immediate effect, it will shut its ticket resale operation Seatwave across Europe. Instead, Ticketmaster will roll out a new “fan-to-fan ticket exchange” in Ireland in October, with Europe set to follow suit in early 2019.

Keith English, Managing Director of Ticketmaster Ireland, said in a statement: “Our number one priority is to get tickets into the hands of fans so that they can go to the events they love. We are aware that fans are tired of seeing others snap up tickets just to resell for a profit on secondary websites, so we have decided to take action.”

He also said the new Ticketmaster ticket exchange would let fans “sell tickets they can’t use directly through their Ticketmaster account, for the price originally paid or less.”

Whether Ticketmaster’s foray into the ‘fan to fan’ realm will yield success is anyone’s guess. Already, Toutless.ie and the #ticketfairy hashtag on social media have been a great help to music fans trying to snap up tickets without losing their shirts.

Yet this week’s news is welcome, for fans and artists like, for a several reasons. Transparency regarding prices is always a good thing, for a start. The rise and rise of touting has resulted in an acrimonious relationship between both fan and musician, with many a gig atmosphere being soured. True-blue fans, having already paid well over the odds to touts just to be there, expect way more bang for their (not-insignificant) buck. They’re a tough crowd.

With people effectively feeling duped by the system, any sense of goodwill often flies out the window of the venue before Ed Sheeran or whoever can even strap on his guitar.

And, in the event that a surplus of tickets are floating about, it’s not unusual for non-fans to show up at a gig on a whim. I’d lost count of the number of self-professed ‘real fans’ who couldn’t get within spitting distance of U2’s Joshua Tree anniversary show at Croke Park last year. Likewise, I saw a hell of a lot of selfies from lucky gig-goers inside the stadium who probably think the band’s guitarist is called The Hedge.

With casual fans keen on an Insta opportunity, Irish gigs have become a beery hotbed of mortgage and the-girl-at-work chat (there’s a moment of respite from this once the artist plays the one songs that everyone knows from Today FM – after that, it’s back to the bants). For genuine fans, there’s nothing more maddening; not least after paying several hundred euro for the privilege. For artists, there’s a grim wave of inane chatter to surf over during a gig.

Will all of this change because of this week’s Ticketmaster development? It’s hard to say. We probably can’t lay the blame entirely at the door of the touts for the sodden vibe at most Irish gigs. Yet more fans, there for the right reasons, inside a gig venue is as good a start as any.

As to what Ticketmaster will do next to keep their profit margins healthy remains anyone’s guess. Will ticket prices become even more extortionate than usual? Will the gulf between standard and VIP seats widen? Perhaps. What we can count on for now is that Ticketmaster’s new platform may profess to connect fans with other fans. A nice idea, yet Ticketmaster are not industry giants for nothing. They will always somehow get their share.

Read more: 'We’re shutting down Seatwave' - Ticketmaster announces closure of resale website

Music fans ‘crucified’ by secondary ticketing sites, artist booking agent says

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