Wednesday 16 January 2019

U2 takes the ticket as fans pay the pipers

AS if we hadn't seen enough ways to make an extra buck from U2, it seems they've come up with yet another one.

But now they've just been given a hammering for their latest idea -- and "ripping off" fans -- by legendary pop impresario Harvey Goldsmith.

The band, it would seem, have plans to cash in on a new-found way to soak music fans: "reselling" tickets for gigs by auction to get more than their face value.

Goldsmith bumped into Paul McGuinness, the "fifth band member" of U2 (and presumably one of the five mystery employees who were each paid €5m last year by U2's parent company), at a music industry festival in France last month.

McGuinness had just given a speech lambasting internet service providers (ISPs) as thieves for allowing music piracy traffic by their users. With declining album sales internationally, he was doing his job and protecting his band's revenue stream. Fair enough.

But when Goldsmith -- who is one of the world's most famous promoters of live music -- met McGuinness for a drink afterwards and discussed how the internet has effectively legalised ticket touts, he was shocked at the response. So much so that Goldsmith used the conversation as an anecdotal intro for a "keynote address" at the Concert Industry Consortium in Los Angeles.

Speaking about McGuinness, he said: "He accused the heroes of Silicon Valley of being manufacturers of burglary kits. However, when I later had a drink with Paul and asked him about the secondary ticket market, he told me that U2 would run its own auction site.

"So on the one hand he is attacking the internet pirates for stealing his artist's music, but on the other hand he is quite happy for the very same fans to be ripped off by the secondary ticket market -- providing the money, of course, goes to him and his artist."

U2's management company didn't immediately respond to a request for clarification but, given the band's propensity to cash in on every potential revenue stream, it's an obvious one.

Nearly a third of all tickets worldwide are now resold, said Goldsmith, and the number is growing.

"In order for the fan to be true to its hero, [he or she] is stealing music on the one hand," Goldsmith said, "and paying through the nose for a live experience on the other hand.

"This is a mess! Does anybody seriously think that a fan wakes up in the morning wanting to go see Bruce Springsteen with the sole thought of how much more he can pay for the ticket than the price advertised?"

Listen up U2. We like ye, but not that much.

Enda Leahy

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