Madonna knocks bricks out of a crumbling wall Thursday, May 15, 2008
Last week the news emerged that Madonna is endorsing secondary trading of concert tickets, and has negotiated directly with the market operators to get a slice of the action. StubHub will be able to trade tickets for her North American concerts, while Viagogo has been given the rights to be secondary ticket partner in Europe, as well as handling VIP packages and all premium tickets.Having sold her touring rights to LiveNation last year, this represents a major endorsement of secondary markets by one of the world's largest promoters and blows a hole through the "moral" arguments that were advanced by some parts of the live music industry, who condemned such market as scalping or touting. Similarly, it leaves the recently formed industry association that was advocating a revenue tax on secondary markets completely wrong footed.
I've already heard it said that Madonna is an exceptional case and most artists won't be able to negotiate the same deals with secondary market operators, but this applies equally to the situation most artists face with promoters who underwrite tours [primary market].
Live Nations endorsement follows the complete about face by Ticketmaster, who acquired two secondary market operators a mere six months after appearing before a UK Parliamentary Select Committee to advocate such markets were plainly wrong. The hypocrisy isn't unique to them - effectively, many industry incumbents have been arguing it is wrong purely because they don't profit from it, which is a very difficult matter from it being wrong in principle.