A new coalition of artists, venues, sports teams and others has launched an advocacy group — with backing from Live Nation and its Ticketmaster division — to fight against what it believes are abuses in the secondary ticket market.
In addition, the Fans First Coalition (FFC) will be a proponent for restrictive paperless ticketing and attempt to act as a counterbalance to the StubHub-backed Fan Freedom Project (FFP), which had been winning the public relations war over the new technology, catching Ticketmaster flat-footed in the process.
The FFC counts among its members more than 35 artists and more than 70 venues; the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team and Carolina Panthers football team; promoters Jam Productions, Feld Entertainment, Rose Presents and Red Light Management; and Live Nation-owned Front Line Management and Live Nation’s own secondary ticket resale company TicketsNow. Among the venues that back the coalition include Connecticut’s XL Center and Minnesota’s Target Center, both of which have fought against proposed legislation in those states to regulate restrictive paperless tickets; New York’s Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre, Irving Plaza and Shubert Theatre; and MTS Centre, the Fillmore Charlotte and American Airlines Center.
The common denominator for many of the members of the FFC is that they are either artists represented by Front Line Management or venues with ticketing contracts with Ticketmaster.
Among the complaints the FFC said it has against the secondary market:
-Fans are routinely misled into purchasing tickets from websites that masquerade as being affiliated with artists, teams or venues. These phony, non-sanctioned sites trick fans into believing they are buying tickets directly from the artist or venue rather than the resellers who operate them.
-Scalpers use software and other illegal means to secure as many of the best seats as possible the second tickets go on sale, just to sell those tickets back to fans.
-Many ticket resellers do not inform fans that their websites are resale sites, and that prices often exceed face value.
-Fans are not aware of the true cost of their tickets until after they have made a purchase.
-Many resale marketplaces and companies sell tickets they do not have in-hand, and do not disclose this to the ticket buyer. Fans are often unaware that the tickets they purchase are “speculative” in nature – that is, they may be unable to see a game, concert or show if the ticket seller cannot fulfill speculative orders, even after paying for tickets.
“The Internet has revolutionized the way fans access and purchase tickets, but it has also created an environment where fans are routinely victimized by fraudulent ticketing practices,” Michael Marion, president of the FFC and the General Manager of the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, AR, said in a statement. “The Fans First Coalition seeks to put an end to these practices and ensure fans have a good event experience, from ticket purchase through the final out or encore.”
Marion has long been a vocal critic of the secondary ticket market, even going so far as to publish a scathing indictment of the industry two years ago where he outlined several moves his arena — then known as the Alltel Arena — has made to fight ticket resellers. The arena was also one of the beta test sites for Ticketmaster’s restrictive paperless ticketing initiative.
“We need to make sure that fans get the tickets, and not scalpers. Fans First is fighting to do just that. Our band wants our tickets to be sold at the face value that we set, so that the real fans can get the tickets — not scalpers,” coalition member Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5, said in a statement.
However, despite claiming its mission is to help fans, the FFC does not appear to support proposed legislation that would require artists, venues and promoters disclose just how many tickets will be available at the initial time of sale. Such “holdbacks,” as they are often called, limit the number of tickets available to fans before they can even reach the secondary market. Before delaying their respective ticket resale legislation, both Connecticut and Minnesota proposed requirements to disclose the number of available tickets.
“It is encouraging to see artists, sports teams, venues and Ticketmaster/Live Nation finally joining the Fan Freedom Project in our campaign to put fans first,” FFP president Jon Potter said in a statement. The FFP boasts more than 30,000 members. “We agree that all ticket agencies should be transparent about fees, should not engage in duplicitous marketing tactics, and that bot software should be prohibited. Fans are tired of being confused and abused, so we applaud this new spirit of consumerism.”
Potter added, “We look forward to working with the Fans First Coalition to promote fairness, transparency and consumer choice, and hope it will join us in urging artists, event producers and ticket issuers to: Disclose the number of tickets available for sale to the general public and those reserved for private sale to VIPs; eliminate ludicrous fees, such as those for printing tickets at home; and, ensure that fans who buy tickets own them, without limits or restrictions on transfer.”