Ticketing and the cost of your entertainment

Seeing your favourite band, singer, play or actor is a very emotive thing. Buying a ticket to see them is not like buying another commodity, like a tin of beans. Making that ticket purchase allows you access to an event that will (hopefully) give you great pleasure and provide you with lifelong memories. It is no wonder that ticketing engenders such a passionate response in people.

Ticketing has been in the news once more this week with the BBC running a piece on high prices for popular shows on secondary sites such as Viagogo and Seatwave see the report here . This coincided with a parliamentary debate last week on secondary ticketing led by MP Sharon Hodgson who has crusaded against these sites for many years.

The sites in question provide a market place through which people can buy and sell tickets. The arguments against these sites are very familiar and, understandably, draw a lot of popular support. Far from being used by fans who have bought tickets and are then unable to use them, the main argument goes, they are being exploited by professional touts who buy up large amounts of inventory and use these sites to sell the tickets at vastly inflated prices, preventing “ordinary people” the opportunity to buy them at face value. I won’t rehash the whole debate here, but would encourage those interested to read the transcript of the debate, particularly the less often reported arguments against legislation in this area.

The only thing that I would say is that touting is as old as ticketing and that whenever demand outstrips supply there is always going to be a market for selling tickets at above face value. At least these sites provide a safe environment in which to trade rather than leaving innocent members of the public at the mercy of criminals. Speaking of criminals, talk in the debate about fraud was totally fatuous – as was pointed out, there is legislation already in existence to deal with fraud. But if the politicians insist of legislating in this area they are going to have to give some consideration as to how that legislation is to be enforced. During the years building up to the Olympics I spent a fair bit of time with police officers from Operation Podium who had a big remit concerning ticketing. They did an excellent job and won themselves a lot of friends and respect in the ticketing industry. However with all the resources that they had, they were only really able to scratch the surface of the criminal behaviour around ticketing. That operation has now been disbanded and it has once again become near impossible to get the police to engage in ticketing crime (they don’t have the resources) – adding more legislation into the mix is not going to make that situation any better.

I am not denying that secondary ticketing is a problem, however. It is one that damages the whole ticketing industry. Undoubtedly technology has made it much easier for touts to get hold of tickets on an industrial scale. It is up to us, as an industry, to make it harder for touts to operate and I believe that technology can help us. I noticed this story earlier in the week where Ticketmaster in the US have introduced paperless ticketing for the upcoming Miley Cyrus tour in effort to beat the scalpers (touts). Technology is moving on fast and as an industry we should be adopting that new technology to better improve the ticket buying process for our customers.

If it is not the secondary market or booking fees, then it is often the cost of the tickets themselves that upsets entertainment-goers. The finances of the entertainment industry are incredibly complicated and very difficult to explain to those not involved, but it is very expensive industry to run – as well as an extremely risky one. Yes, big returns can be made – but there is a higher chance of a big loss. Therefore I think this infographic, which featured on http://www.inforgraphicsshowcase.com makes interesting reading. I can’t personally vouch for the accuracy of the figures it contains, but I would suggest that the general principles are in the right ballpark.
The Cost of a Musical on Broadway Infographic - An Infographic from Infographics Showcase

Embedded from Infographics Showcase

The industry is not perfect, there is a lot we can do to make the process of seeing their favourite artists better for the ticket buying public. It is never going to be a painless process, getting hold of something that is hard to come by or spending a lot of money on an evening out is something that none of us like, but I know that there are plenty of people working in the entertainment industry who are determined to make it better


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