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Fan Freedom Project: Transparency needed with Radiohead tickets
The consumer advocacy group Fan Freedom Project (FFP) believes the problems caused by high demand for Radiohead tickets points to the need for more transparency by bands and Ticketmaster concerning the number of tickets initially released for sale.
Radiohead is playing two soldout shows in New York at the Roseland Ballroom this week. Tickets were released to the public (called an "onsale") Monday morning, September 26. Fans reportedly complained of online delays in trying to purchase tickets from Ticketmaster.com, and some even saw tickets reserved in their shopping cart on the site, only to have those orders later rejected.
The Roseland holds 3,200 people, standing room only, but fans were not told whether all 6,400 total tickets were released during the 10 a.m. EDT onsale, or whether some may have been held back by the band or promoters. Radiohead set a two-ticket limit on all purchases and is requiring that fans pick up their tickets at Will Call and show identification — moves designed to cut down on ticket resale.
In a statement, Ticketmaster still partially blamed the shows' quick sell-outs on "scalpers," though they offered no proof to back up that claim and argued that paperless tickets might have alleviated some of the problems. The company uses a proprietary, restrictive paperless ticketing system for some shows, a system that is at odds with recent laws in New York that ban restrictive paperless tickets. The paperless system was not implemented for the Radiohead shows.
"The problem with the Radiohead onsale was not ticket transferability or the volume of ticket requests," FFP said in a statement. "It was the utter lack of transparency — both in Ticketmaster's own checkout process, and in today's ticketing industry more broadly. Fans were frustrated that tickets in their shopping cart one moment were gone the next. And that people who were on Ticketmaster later in the morning scored tickets, while others on the site earlier were denied."
FFP said without more ticketing transparency, it is "impossible for fans to really know how many tickets are available to a given show, and whether a lack of ticket availability is genuine, or merely the result of someone else gaming the system."
The advocacy group called on Ticketmaster to answer four questions pertaining to the onsale for accountability purposes:
• Can Ticketmaster guarantee that Radiohead tickets offered for sale on TicketsNow before the initial onsale to the public were in fact fraudulent, and not the result of artist or venue hold backs?
• [Were] there any artist, venue, promoter or other hold backs of Radiohead tickets? If so, will they reveal who received them?
• Were fans who were lucky enough to acquire tickets allowed to resell those tickets using TicketsNow and will those resales be honored at the gate?
• If so, were fans using a different secondary market, like Craig's List, also allowed to resell their tickets?
Ticketmaster's parent company Live Nation also owns ticket resale marketplace TicketsNow, and tickets were being resold on that site for a brief time. Live Nation did not respond to a request for comment.
On the official Radiohead Web site, the band warned fans that buying resold tickets to the shows could be risky.
"Some ticket holders for this week's New York shows have chosen to re-sell one or both of their allocation on auction sites," the band wrote. "Using a 2 ticket limit and will-call only access with ID, we have tried to ensure that more tickets go to the people who prefer to see the show than to cheat fellow fans with re-selling tickets at exorbitant prices."
The band's statement continued: "For those of you who have to pay over the face value of the ticket, PLEASE make sure that you are certain you can get into the show before parting with your money. A ticket is only valid with its matching credit card details and the ID of the purchaser, after which the ticket holder will be escorted straight through."