Music News

Secondary Market Ticket Sellers: An Inside Job?

This will be sure to make some music fans furious: Robbie Williams’ manager has been accused of selling tickets on the secondary market for at least $79 above face value.

In other words, he used his position and access to squirrel away tickets, resell them himself, and pocket a tidy little profit, thanks to his insider knowledge and position.

When Williams’ upcoming tour went on sale in November, the Dublin gig sold out within minutes, the Irish Mirror reported at the time. The 52,000-seat Aviva Stadium were gone within a day, at a time when it “looked … that the former prince of pop might be no longer able to command” the same crowds he used to. “Fans were left with little choice but to head to Seatwave—a site renowned for huge ticket prices—owned by Ticketmaster. Here they were retailing for up to a staggering €595 but these prices were expected to climb,” the Mirror reported on Nov. 11.

For a show at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, “platinum” seats were going for £160 before fees, according to an investigation conducted by the BBC.

When this was noticed, the Victoria Derbyshire program contacted Ticketmaster about the practice. Ticketmaster, in a statement said “Platinum tickets are a very small percentage of the best seats in the house that are priced according to demand, in consultation with our clients, the event organizers. The UK live events industry has been successfully using platinum for many years so that the full value of these tickets goes back to the rights holders and not to resellers.”

But, because the resellers, in this case, are members of Williams’ management team, the profit stays in house, the BBC notes.

The irony seems to be that, in 2015, “Williams’ management, ie:music, signed a petition saying: ‘We as artists, managers and agents deplore the increasing industrial-scale abuse and insider exploitation of tickets for music, arts and sports events by ticket touts, and their online associates and facilitators,’” the BBC reports.

In a statement to Newsweek, Parliamentarian Sharon Hodgson, who is the Labour party co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on ticket abuse, reiterates that the group “has called for promoters and managers to be more transparent around their involvement with secondary ticketing platforms and the need for the circumventing of the primary marketing and inflating ticket prices before they can even be sold directly to genuine fans to be addressed.

“Transparency is key to allowing fans to be put first in this broken market,” she adds. “This is not only the job of both promoters and managers, but also the government who need to be doing more to facilitate further transparency that puts fans at the centre of this market.”

As fans across Canada and the US might be scratching their heads and raising their fists at the inability to secure tickets for last summer’s Man Machine Poem tour from the Tragically Hip or the upcoming Joshua Tree 2017 tour from U2, which went on sale Tuesday morning and quickly reported sellouts at stadiums in both countries, it’s possible some will wonder how widespread this practice really is. The US has enacted federal legislation to combat ticket bots, but is it possible to prevent a performer’s management from taking advantage of their position, as is the case here? Will fans ever get a truly fair shake? Is it even possible?


Amber Healy

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

Amber Healy has 517 posts and counting. See all posts by Amber Healy

One thought on “Secondary Market Ticket Sellers: An Inside Job?

  • I got U2 tickets today. 100 level on Adam’s side at Rogers went for $280 each. The same seats on Edge’s side were “platinum VIP” and we’re $650 each.


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