Keynoting at this week’s Event Production Show in London, top British promoter and manager Harvey Goldsmith took a swipe at secondary ticketers currently operating in the UK.
Goldsmith, known for promoting popular artists such as Pavarotti and Bruce Springsteen and organizing events like Live Aid, accused those sites that resell tickets above face value of “killing the industry”, according to a report by Event Industry News (EIN). Even the auction site eBay was not immune to his blows, as he criticized the site for its ongoing accommodation of ticket resale.
Praising the British government for banning the unauthorized resale of London 2012 Olympics tickets, Goldsmith advocated a “proof of purchase” system for the sale of concert and festival tickets in Great Britain.
“I want to see people having to produce the credit card the ticket was originally bought with, in the same way they do at the cinema or theatre,” Goldsmith was quoted as saying to the trade show’s audience. Claiming that he has already used such technology for event management in the U.S., Goldsmith said, “It may take a little longer for people to gain entry, but it does work.”
Graham Burns, Chairman of the UK’s Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA) has headed up the effort to improve the British public’s understanding of the secondary market, and he recently shared with TicketNews his strong reactions to the promoter’s remarks: “Mr. Harvey Goldsmith, that well known entrepreneur has, at the Event Production Show at Olympia chosen to attack his favourite whipping boys, the ‘Ticket Touts’ – throwing derogatory comments about eBay in for good measure. Mr. Goldsmith is essentially calling for a ban on Ticket Resale to ‘protect the consumer’! Come on Harvey, who are you kidding?”
Noting that Goldsmith and other promoters typically use the laws of supply and demand to their own benefit, Burns stated, “Mr. Goldsmith is breaking current consumer law with his draconian terms and conditions…and then wants sole control over the supply of those tickets. As a consumer myself, I have long since wondered who it is exactly will oversee the promoters?”
Goldsmith’s statements this week echo the ongoing efforts of some in the British government to restrict ticket resale on a national level. During this parliamentary session, MP Sharon Hodgson introduced a bill banning the resale of event tickets for more than 10 percent above face value. However, the bill was subject to filibuster at its second reading on January 21, delaying any further consideration until May 13.
These efforts reflect a different public attitude toward resellers in the UK as compared with the U.S. Despite attempts by ASTA to clarify the nature of the secondary market in England and rehabilitate its public image, British resale still tends to invite suspicion, with many seeing the ranks full of “touts”, or fraudulent brokers. With this lingering attitude, it’s no surprise that governmental efforts to reign in the industry continue.
Burns believes instead that the profession should be expected to police itself. “We the industry support an industry sponsored solution to the crooks and neer’ do wells who latch onto this industry and fleece the public. Every time we turn around there is another call for ‘Government Action.’ Why? We know better than anyone what the problems are in this industry and we are best placed to fix them.”
And, to Goldsmith, a final rejoinder from Burns: “As a promoter, you have total control over the ticket distribution, and we invite you to get your act together and distribute the tickets in a fair and transparent manner that the consumer gets a fair chance at buying them.”