UK Musicians Ask Parliament to Make Ticket Bots Illegal

If you’re a ticket seller in the UK, you’re having a rough week.

First, Ian McAndrew, CEO of Wildlife Entertainment and manager of bands including Arctic Monkeys and Royal Blood, gets up in front of a Parliamentary commission and admits that, yeah, sometimes ticket resellers have asked him to help hike up the price of tickets on the secondary market.

Then Parliament is asked to consider making it illegal to use bots to buy tickets.

During a hearing of the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee, a group of music industry representatives, including McAndrew, Annabella Coldrick of the Music Managers Forum and John Franceschi of You Me at Six, asked MPs to enact stricter regulation of the secondary ticket market. They also accused ticket sellers of publicly distancing themselves from resellers—called ticket touts in the UK—while offering those same resellers “preferential treatment” behind closed doors or away from the public eye, The Telegraph reports.

“There needs to be legislation,” Franceschi said. “I’d like to see tickets only being sold through primary websites… There are a lot of derelict large music venues being shut down regularly because the business isn’t going through these halls” as a result of resellers and other brokers snatching up tickets, not only taking them out of the hands of actual fans but sometimes causing venues to appear only partly filled during shows.

“If you get up in the morning and other people beat you and the shows are sold out…that’s one thing,” he said, according to the Telegraph. “The idea of being ripped off, that doesn’t leave a nice taste in the mouth.”

It’s currently legal to use ticket-buying bots in the UK, but Parliament is considering a ban as part of the Digital Economy Bill, currently under consideration.

When asked why his site doesn’t do a better job of setting a good example for other ticket sellers by requiring sellers to use their real names or reveal themselves to be resellers, Chris Edmonds, chair of Ticketmaster UK, said his company is “fully compliant, we consider, within the law.”

If Ticketmaster’s UK branch only accepted tickets from identified resellers, “the reality is we will just drive those guys to offshore sites where they can resell those tickets elsewhere,” Edmonds said. “And that will be in nobody’s interests.”

His seemingly cavalier attitude was questioned by Damian Collins, a Conservative MP, who called Edmonds “extraordinarily complacent in your attitude towards that and I find your answer on this point extremely unsatisfactory.”

The UK isn’t alone in considering legislation targeting bots: Italy currently has proposed legislation under consideration that would essentially ban outright the practice of reselling tickets, CompleteMusicUpdate.com reports. That’s a bit too far afield for the UK to consider, according to Michael Waterson, a professor of economics at the University of Warwick who was responsible for the UK’s recent review of secondary ticketing practices. He pointed to such a mandate in France, where tickets are still being resold despite a national ban on the practice.

The website notes that the leadership behind most reseller sites have adopted a “not my fucking problem” stance on legislation or the use of ticket buying bots.

 

Amber Healy

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

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