The UK-based Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA) is questioning the plan by Live Nation Entertainment to begin a wide scale test of selling digital wristbands instead of tickets to gain entry at several UK music festivals this year.
Graham Burns, who heads ASTA, believes the new system – which could be considered a paperless ticketing system – could lead to customers losing some privacy because Live Nation could gain control over more data.
According to Pollstar, the smart chips embedded in the wristbands will utilize RFID technology, which could potentially allow Live Nation to track the wearer’s movements within the venue, and even outside throughout the neighborhood. That ability could result in Live Nation obtaining a wealth of marketing data from the fan, such as which concession stands the person frequents, what foods or drinks they consume, or what bars or restaurants they may go to after a concert.
“The latest Live Nation announcement, that of digital wristbands, is not unexpected,” Burns told TicketNews. “We have known for some time that Live Nation and Ticketmaster wish to consolidate their position in the marketplace and by introducing restrictive technology, more control can be exerted.”
Live Nation, and it newly merged ticketing arm Ticketmaster, are introducing the wristbands to help cut down on fraud and counterfeiting, and also to restrict resale because the wristbands will be personalized to each purchaser.
Joe Cohen, CEO and founder of Seatwave, one of Europe’s largest secondary ticket companies, said that the added security aspect of the wristbands could be a good thing.
“The digital wristband ticket seems likely to be convenient for fans as it’s easy to hold onto and may allow for some kind of stored value to purchase food, drinks and merchandise at the festival – and is much more difficult to copy so in this regard we applaud the innovation,” Cohen told TicketNews. “I don’t think [Live Nation] is using the technology to discourage the legitimate secondary market, only to make it more difficult to clone tickets given the levels of fraud they’ve seen in past years.”
Burns also supports added security, but he’s less certain that this technology will eliminate problems. “The issue that needs to be addressed, the release of tickets early to eradicate forward selling, seems to have passed Live Nation, and Ticketmaster, by. The prospect of cloned wristbands is one that fills me with dread and it is not hard, given the easy access to technology, to clone an electronic chip.”
Also troubling to Burns is the prospect that Live Nation will also allow buyers to purchase food and drinks, and potentially other merchandise, with the wristbands.
“The other issue of course that is mentioned obliquely, is that festival goers can ‘even buy food.’ This, I strongly suspect, is some sort of pay-as-you-go credit card type application linked to the chip in the wristband, so Live Nation have now entered the banking arena?” Burns asked. “There will of course be a charge, I suspect, and this will, I am certain, lock the customer even further into Live Nation.”