The day Ed Sheeran introduced a new ticket sales system for his European tour in July 2017, a new chapter was heralded in the fight against unfairly high ticket prices and extreme sales practices. More initiatives and a lot of media attention followed. What about the usury trade? How do we ensure that we no longer have to queue for hours for nothing or, in the worst case, a ticket for the triple price?

What exactly is going on in the ticket world?

More than ever, concert tickets for live shows and festivals are being resold. In the Netherlands this is about 3.5% of total trade. Although this phenomenon is not new, it seems more relevant than ever. Ticket merchants using bots to buy tickets as quickly as possible are the new standard. At the end of 2017, these problems in the Netherlands were once again firmly confirmed by parliamentary questions about the ‘profiteering trade in concert tickets’. State Secretary Keijzer (Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate) answered these questions, which show the seriousness of the situation.

There is a very profitable ecosystem around the ticket market. This not only leads to disappointed fans who cannot buy tickets for their dream artist after waiting for hours, but also to very extreme ticket prices. The tickets, initially bought by ticket dealers, are in this way only accessible to those who can afford the high prices. Not to mention the resale of false or invalid tickets. And that while others make money from it.

Artists who want to keep their ticket prices affordable for their fans also regret these practices. Torre Florim, lead singer of De Staat, also finds it ‘very unfortunate’ when he comes across tickets for his own shows for double the price. DJ Don Diablo even became rebellious when he noticed that the tickets for his benefit concerts (for the KWF Kankerbestrijding) were being sold online at extremely high prices. Moreover, with resale, no money goes to the artist, instead it disappears completely from the music value chain. The Professional Association for Authors and Musicians (BAM) is also concerned about this.

Is resale illegal? What are the rules anyway?

This varies. In most countries, there is no clear law governing the maximum die-sale margin. The same applies to technology used in the deployment of bots. In the Netherlands, in the autumn of 2017, an initiative law of the CDA and the SP for a maximum price of 120% for the resale of concert tickets was passed. The law did not pass the Senate. The new bill from SP MP Peter Kwint offers a second possibility to tackle the usurious profit through political regulation. In the United States, the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (or BOTS Act) exists. This law was signed by Barack Obama in 2016 and can be seen as an official starting point for all the anti reselling tickets initiatives that have been started since then by organizations and artists from around the world. Ireland and Belgium have also recently passed laws against resale.