Just before Christmas, a couple of nice people from the Ontario Attorney General’s Office came to see me about the issue of concert tickets. “We know the system is broken. Bots are buggering everything up and elbowing humans out of the way. They buy hundreds of tickets per second, causing shows to be sold out within minutes. And then people get pissed off because tickets immediately show up on the secondary ticket market with huge markups. Something needs to be done.”
When I mentioned this on my radio show, I got dozens and dozens of suggestions on how to fix the concert ticket-buying experience and how to make it fair and equitable. I’ve forwarded those emails to the AG’s office.
Now the AG wants even more input. Yasir Naqvi would like to hear from you directly. If you have something to say about the way tickets are sold in Ontario, go to ontario.ca/tickets where you’ll find this. Do it. Now.
The Globe and Mail has coverage on the story, too.
As audiences for live music, sports, theatre and other events grasp with resellers taking advantage of ticket-buying’s digital transition, Ontario has opened consultations to refresh legislation to address the problem.
Ticketing is now a digital-first industry, but websites such as Ticketmaster have increasingly become the target of “bot” technology that rapidly buys up huge quantities of tickets and resellers that put them back on the market at enormous markups. Attorney-General Yasir Naqvi announced Tuesday that the province would seek guidance from the public and ticketing industry to make ticket-buying more accessible, affordable and transparent, with better legal enforcement.
The growing practice became a major public pain point this past summer during a blockbuster Tragically Hip tour in the wake of frontman Gord Downie’s cancer announcement, prompting fan outcry over the ethics of allowing resale markets to gouge fans. But a review of ticket laws and subsequent legal changes would not likely be a cure-all for event-goers, who would continue to battle what has become a murky, globalized market.
The global secondary ticket industry has been reported as worth more than $8-billion (U.S.).
Finally, maybe we should do something like what’s happening in the UK. From the Telegraph:
Ticket touts that use computer programs to buy concert tickets to sell on at vastly inflated prices face jail or heavy fines.
Ministers are planning to change the law to stop companies using “ticket scalping” software to scoop up hundreds of tickets for concerts and sell them to fans for a large profit.
The law change will be based on a crackdown in New York late last year which has allowed prosecutors to put firms who use the software to be jailed for a year or face a fine of £5,000.