A consortium of forty British managers, trade bodies, agents and promoters has launched a fresh campaign against the secondary ticketing market.
The FanFair Alliance was launched today (July 14) in London, backed by the managers of One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Chvrches, Noel Gallagher, Iron Maiden, Mumford & Sons, Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood and PJ Harvey.
U.K. trade bodies AIM, the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), Music Managers Forum (MMF) and British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors (BASCA) are also supporting the enterprise, which is calling on the newly-formed British government to take stronger action against secondary ticketing platforms that breach U.K. consumer regulations.
Earlier this year, a government-led review chaired by Professor Michael Waterson found that the four leading secondary platforms in the U.K. -- Viagogo, StubHub and Seatwave and Get Me In! -- were failing to comply with British law, which stipulates that secondary ticket vendors are required to provide consumers with details about a ticket's original face value, any restrictions it contains and information on its seat number and block/row.
In response, Waterson made nine recommendations, including stronger penalties and the possibility of court proceedings for platforms that continue to break the law, as well as an investigation into secondary ticketing practices. Those motions are supported by the FanFair Alliance, which also says greater scrutiny is needed of resale sites and the identification of professional traders operating on sites like Viagogo and eBay-owned StubHub. It additionally calls for the use of botnets to purchase tickets to become a criminal offence.
To support its argument that secondary ticketing sites are operating outside the law, the FanFair Alliance has submitted evidence to the Competition and Markets Authority that identifies nearly 12,000 tickets for Black Sabbath's 2017 seven night U.K. arena tour that were listed on re-sale sites within minutes of general sale. Of those 12,000 tickets, large numbers were found to be in breach of the consumer rights legislation, say organizers, who estimate that sales across the U.K.'s four biggest secondary ticketing vendors total more than £1 billion ($ billion) a year.
"Our artists are tarnished by fans thinking that they are being ripped off by tickets at inflated prices. The whole market has really got out of control and is not in any way regulated," One Direction manager Harry Magee tells Billboard just after the FanFair launch.
"We accept that there is always going to be a secondary market and there is going to be greed in certain sectors. What we're trying to do is create a fairer, more level playing field for the actual fans," he goes on to say. "We simply want the regulations that are there to be enforced by the consumer rights bodies. And that's to do with the original price of tickets being displayed on [secondary] sites, where the seat is and [for vendors] to be very transparent and clear on who they are and what it is they are selling."
"It's perfectly legal to resell a ticket," countered a spokesperson for Viagogo. "We believe once you've bought something -- whether that's a house, a car, or a ticket - it's up to you what you do with it and the majority of Brits agree with us. Our policy remains that we open a marketplace for any event tickets that have been purchased and are in the public domain."
The British government has until July 21 to respond to the recommendations set out in Professor Waterson's review.