Online ticket reselling firms: a sleazy brand of capitalism typical of our times

‘Touts’ create nothing of value, yet technology now allows them to make vast profits at the expense of fans, sport and the arts

From The Guardian:

Dispatches’ recent investigation into the secondary ticket market – on which I worked as an undercover reporter – exposes a sleazy brand of capitalism that is typical of our times. The Great Ticket Scandal, broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday, reveals some of the underhand methods that have allowed the ticket reselling industry to mushroom in recent years since the advent of sites such as Viagogo and Seatwave. Do these kinds of industries represent a healthy future for de-industrialising Britain? And is it time for our government to act before the free market further steamrolls its way through the music and sports industries?

Behind-the-scenes deals with some of the world’s largest music promoters, including Live Nation and SJM, have prevented thousands of face-value tickets from being available to the average fan, instead being siphoned straight off to the so-called “fan-to-fan” resale site Viagogo to be sold on at huge mark-ups.

New software has brought a legal form of touting into the 21st century, with the old-school geezer in the rain now a distant memory. This software allows “powersellers” to manage thousands of listings at a time, selling thousands (and sometimes millions) of pounds’ worth of tickets for concerts and sporting events all around the world.

In his blog defending the ticket reselling industry, James Lawson argues that this is an entirely legitimate business model, suggesting that if we substitute the words “ticket” for “bread” and “tout” for “baker”, we would reach similar conclusions as to how this profit is made.

However, the difference between the tout and the baker is of crucial importance: the baker uses experience and skill to combine yeast, flour, water and salt, with the right kind of oven set at the correct temperature, to create a product that is tasty and nutritious. In short, he adds value to his ingredients to create a product that will win him a profit.

The ticket tout does nothing of the sort. He creates nothing of value, merely speculating on the value of tickets (how hard is it to guess that a Take That comeback tour is going to sell out?), and bulk buying for big events with the sole aim of making a profit off die-hard fans whose frantic refreshing at 9am on Ticketmaster was not enough.

Continue reading the rest of the story on The Guardian