Former Island Records U.K. managing director Marc Marot has emerged at the helm of an ambitious organization which has been established to license the secondary market for live music tickets in the United Kingdom.
An initiative of the Music Managers’ Forum, the Resale Rights Society was unveiled this morning at a press gathering in central London. RRS chairman-elect Marot explained that the body’s aims are two-fold. The first is to introduce uniformity in the sector through a kite-mark system for ticket sales Web sites. Secondly, the society pledges to fight on behalf of artists and the live sector by negotiating a share in the proceeds of those resold tickets.
Although he would not discuss the percentage RSS would target on secondary ticket sales, Marot pressed-home the point that the organization was “not looking for a tax on consumers.”
The new body is a “practical solution to a problem that is the wild west,” said Marot, who was flanked by MMF CEO Jon Webster and Charlie Marshall, founder and strategy director of TixDaq, which collates data on Web-based ticket sales. “This could be the beginning of a sea change for the industry,” Marot suggested.
Artist management firms representing more than 400 performers have confirmed their support for RRS, including the teams behind Robbie Williams, Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead.
Marot confirms that RRS will look to harness some of that star-power to help its campaign find its voice. “We are already identifying those that are most keen on cooperating and we have some rather interesting names,” Marot tells Billboard.biz. “We will have artists represented on the board,” he adds.
Initial reaction from secondary ticket services was less-than positive. In a statement, Joe Cohen, CEO and founder of Seatwave, commented, “This is a direct attempt by a few music managers and promoters to line their pockets at the expense of consumers.” He added, “Everyone in this value chain has already been fully paid for their work – this proposed tax is like BMW asking car owners for a cut every time someone resells a car. It’s laughable that rock managers and promoters are holding themselves out as consumer champions.”
Today’s launch came after four government-hosted summits on the contentious subject, ahead of the findings of an inquiry into secondary ticketing conducted by a select committee appointed by the U.K.’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Marot said during the launch that it is increasingly likely that the select committee will, in early 2008, issue a call for the industry to self-regulate the secondary music ticketing business, which TixDaq estimates will be worth more than £250 million ($500 million) in Britain alone this year. “There’s not going to be legislation to ban people from selling tickets on,” he predicted.
Marot — whose Terra Firma Artist Management firm oversees the careers of Yusuf Islam and Paul Oakenfold — admitted RRS is very much a “work in progress,” but said dialog with promoters, major booking agencies and the operators of online ticketing agencies on finding common ground had been positive.
An inaugural board meeting is pencilled-in for January 2008, and the RSS intends to have finalized its agreements with secondary market exchanges such as Viagogo and StubHub by the end of the first quarter. International developments are expected early in the New Year.