Secondary ticket sellers could be facing financial losses as Ticketmaster’s paperless tickets are becoming more popular among a number of musicians and sports teams. The tickets, which are non-transferrable, prevent fans and secondary ticketing companies from reselling tickets.
Ticketmaster UK, a Live Nation Entertainment company, has announced that paperless tickets will be used for 80 percent of the seats available for all three of Radiohead‘s UK tour dates.
The popular band will make stops on Oct. 6 at the Manchester Arena and Oct. 8–9 at the O2 Arena with 20 percent of tickets being made available to fan club members via a presale. The band opted to use paperless ticketing for nearly all of the seats to ensure that fans will have fair access to the ticket inventory and will not have to pay above face value.
Paperless tickets prevent secondary ticket sellers and scalpers from selling tickets to the shows, a practice that sometimes results in fans paying prices higher than face value.
“Radiohead made it clear that they wanted the face value of the ticket to be the price their fans paid and Ticketmaster Paperless ticketing is crucial for artists who want to protect their ticket inventory for their fans,” said Chris Edmonds, managing director for Ticketmaster UK. “The technology means a smooth, secure and fast entry to the venues whilst also restricting secondary ticketing activity.”
While Ticketmaster’s paperless ticketing sounds like a positive alternative for fans, the service also has several restrictions that prohibit fans from exchanging or selling their legally-purchased tickets.
Radiohead fans can purchase a maximum of four tickets for the band’s upcoming UK tour dates. The credit card used to purchase the tickets in addition to the cardholder’s photo ID must be presented in order to gain entry into the show. This means that tickets cannot be exchanged or refunded and all members of the party must arrive together.
While paperless ticketing ensures fair pricing of ticket inventory, many fans and organizations are still unsure of whether the technology actually benefits the ticket buyer.
TicketNews recently discussed the issue with the Fan Freedom Project, created to preserve the rights of live event ticket holders, such as the right to exchange or resell tickets.
With the paperless ticket technology, the ticketholder will not be able to gain back money for their tickets in the event that they are unable to attend the show, since tickets cannot be transferred or resold — this also means that tickets can no longer be given as gifts without the ticketholder attending the event.
While Ticketmaster does offer an option for fans to resell tickets for certain shows, the tickets can only be sold using the Ticketmaster TicketExchange, that includes fees and restrictions on the price for which the tickets can be sold.
Paperless tickets also prevent consumers from purchasing tickets to sold-out shows and season ticket holders can no longer sell their unused tickets.
Radiohead is following in the footsteps of other musicians and sports teams looking to use paperless ticketing as a way to protect their ticket inventory. TicketNews recently spoke of David St. Peter’s endorsement of paperless ticketing. The president of the MLB‘s Minnesota Twins predicts the technology becoming more widespread, but says the secondary market will remain the primary outlet for fans to purchase tickets.
TicketNews spoke via email with Will Flaherty, director of communications for SeatGeek, who says Ticketmaster will use the Radiohead show as a test of the success of paperless ticketing — they may be able to use the public’s distrust in secondary ticket markets to win fan support for paperless ticketing.
“Almost certainly the traditional players in the UK secondary market including individual brokers and the marketplaces like Viagogo and Seatwave will be financial losers in regards to paperless ticketing for the Radiohead Tour, as limits on the transferability of paperless tickets mean that they won’t be able to resell those tickets (in the case of brokers) or facilitate secondary transactions (in the case of Viagogo and Seatwave),” said Flaherty in an email to TicketNews.
Flaherty explains that if Ticketmaster sets up a secondary marketplace where paperless tickets for the Radiohead show can be transferred, then the company will have the upper hand by earning money fees charged for the service.