Secondary market for concert tickets - is it a sting?

I'm a bit haphazard at keeping an eye out for "gigs" of artists I'd like to see live. Whilst there are lots of things I could subscribe to, even when I do spot them, I seem to become sloth-like and not act on it.

So when tickets for The Police tour went I sale earlier in the year, it completely passed me by. Moreover, it was only in the last few weeks I even became aware of the tour by virtue of it being covered in a few magazine articles. So, 3 days before they play at Twickenham, 4 miles from my home, I've done nothing to get tickets.

Where to get tickets at this late stage? Well, at this point I did some digging around and was astonished by the results.

- Ticketmaster still had tickets at £90 face value plus booking fee of over £10.
- Seatwave and Viagago, as well as similar ticket trading exchanges had an abundance of tickets. These were trading at an average price of £112 on top of which had to be added Seatwave charge on the buyer of £15 or so. This was for tickets and not hospitality packages
- ebay also had lots of ticket on buy it now and auction. All were evidently looking for a premium.
- Gumtree also had an abundance of tickets, but these were mostly at a discount to face value eg £90 tickets for £45

Why such a wide variety of prices for a relatively homogeneous item? Moreover, if there were still tickets in the primary market (Ticketmaster), why would anyone pay a premium in the secondary market?

Well, there are several factors to consider
- I bothered to search; some people don't bother to scan the many "trading venues"
- trust; I trust that Ticketmaster has the genuine article. Seatwave & Co have refund policies (assuming you believe that they can honour them) and assurance re delivery. ebay has a ratings system. Gumtree is dealing in the wild west with persons unknown as is the case with other websites advertising tickets.
- time to "expiry". As the event approach, people become more desperate to sell which can quickly drive down prices if there is an abundance of tickets evident. But even if scarce, you still want rid of them in time. Some people "blink" sooner than others.
- booking fees can add a considerable premium onto the price, so some tickets advertised above "face value" simply reflect attempts to recoup booking fees.

Much to the ticket industry's annoyance, there is clearly an active secondary market, but despite their lobbying efforts, the UK Govt is loathe to outlaw such markets, questioning why live entertainment should receive special concessions and how is the consumer harmed by the current situation.

By comparison, there are many hedge fund investors who'd love to have recourse to a secondary market!

The market for live entertainment is booming - but alongside others, I believe that the current market mechanism for uniting audiences and artists could be dramatically improved. Hence our recent investment in a business that is proposing a new approach that supplement existing practices, where the audience, artists and venues should all be winners. I'll disclose more about this over the course of the next few weeks, but I'm really excited about it on many levels.

In the meantime, the good news for me is that I have my tickets for Sunday at Twickenham to see The Police in concert - that's one sting I don't mind experiencing.

posted by John Wilson @ 4:03 PM Permanent Link newsvine reddit


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