Pixies Call Out UK Ticket Touts

When the Pixies are leading the charge against unfair ticketing practices, it’s getting serious.

The legendary band was set to play a series of shows at London’s O2 Brixton Academy but found tickets were being sold for £800, a staggering difference above the £32.50 face value, on reseller sites. Fed up and not wanting to price out a good number of fans, the Pixies instead decided to sell half of all available tickets through Songkick, a fan-centric website, the Guardian reports.

“Our fans mean an awful lot to us,” Pixies singer Black Francis told the Observer. “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.”

The move was agreed to by the full band and its manager, Richard Jones, as part of a growing effort in the UK to stop ticket resellers, secondary sellers or, as they’re called over there, ticket touts. Jones is slated to speak at an upcoming industry summit on ticket selling practices.

Earlier this year, a review of ticketing practices ordered by Parliament established a series of suggestions for improving the process, “including a licensing system for touts and harsher penalties for firms that flout consumer rights laws governing sales.”

Jones told the Guardian, “Scalping [profiteering] has always been around but what has happened recently is that it has become institutionalized, very corporate in its mechanics. If you sell a show out in two minutes, you see three or four hundred tickets on a secondary site a few minutes later. There’s obviously something sinister and technically organized for that to happen.”

At the same time, Nigel Adams, a Member of Parliament and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music, has expressed his frustration at the practices of ticket resellers who put profit above fans.

“The traditional impression we have of ticket resale is of the honest fan who can no longer make a gig and just wants to pass on his or her tickets and recoup their costs—but ticket touting has rocketed in the UK in recent years through secondary resale sites…and unfortunately has become dominated by dedicated resellers who purchase as many tickets as they can—often using a variety of credit cards and fake names to bypass limitations—and who never had any interest in the event at all,” he writes for M Magazine.

When he tried to purchase tickets to an upcoming Green Day concert, he logged on to the primary site as tickets went on sale. “I was told I’d been allocated the tickets, and had them held for five minutes to enter my card details and complete the transaction—but on submitting my card details just over two minutes later, I was told the tickets were no longer available. I was troubled to find tickets for the same concert available only minutes later on resale sites—for over double the price—and my experience is not unique.”

Adams has authored a bill to extend protections currently offered to soccer fans to include other events, including concerts, and to ensure existing protects are enforced.

“It is of paramount importance that we protect performers’ rights to set the prices for their own tickets and make certain that we put fans first,” he concludes. “While genuine fans must be enabled to resell tickets they can’t use to recoup their outlay, no artist wants to perform to empty seats because touts snapped up tickets and jacked up prices.”

FanFair Alliance and the Music Managers Forum also are upping their efforts, launching a new guide for artists and managers to fend off the advances of unauthorized resellers. Called “#ToutsOut,” the report, issued last week, provides advice and case studies on how to make sure fans are the ones purchasing tickets to events they want to attend and are capable of reselling them should they be unable to attend.

Adam Tudhope, manager of Mumford & Sons and co-founder of FanFair, says the organization has encouraged agents, promoters and others involved in the live music industry “to continue to innovate to ensure our artists’ tickets reach their intended audience at the right price….However, while we wait for government to act, it is essential that managers and music businesses develop ticketing strategies that aim to disrupt the touts and help fans. This guide marks a first step towards that goal.”

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

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