Tuesday, May 09, 2006


You'd have thought that the Labour government would have had enough on its hands, what with the crumbling edifice of Blairism and all, but it's decided that it's going to have a look at ticket touting, too.

The reports that Creative Industries Minister James Purnell (that's as opposed to the destructive industries minister, of course) is inviting ideas doesn't exactly fill one with hope - after all, most Labour initiatives designed at "helping" the music industry tends to be rushed through and ill-conceived. (The bungled New Deal for Musicians, for instance, or the legislation which requires all pubs to be expensively licensed before anyone can have a bit of a sing-song.)

Anyway, Purnell's calling for input:

"We'd like to hear your readers' views," Purnell told NME.COM. "Why it is these tickets are disappearing? Is it professional operators or just lots of individuals who are finding a way of making £200, £300? How that can be stopped? Does the Glastonbury way of doing it does that work well?"

The minister added that the government have been discussing the issue with the concert industry at a series of "touts summits" and now wanted to hear from music fans.

"There are some genuinely complicated issues, but also a lot of differing views," he explained. "Some people say it's a free market and if you ban it from auction sites it's just going to go underground, and other people say it's so out of hand that people aren't getting tickets who should be getting them."

It's interesting that Purnell mutters about the free market, but at the same time poses the question "how can it be stopped" - which suggests his mind may already have been made up.

If you'll let us put some aluminium headgear on for a moment, remember the "Glastonbury way of doing it" is to link ID to a ticket - so we're far from convinced that this isn't merely another way of trying to sell ID cards to the public in a different form. And while we're not keen on people making hundreds of quid of Reading Festival tickets, we'd much rather see Labour making time to slap down supernormal profits in places where they run into millions - banks, say, or oil companies.

If we were running a touting ring, we'd be writing a few cheques for Labour Party funds right now. Not that it'd buy influence, of course.

Anyone want to persuade Purnell he might be better off looking at Ticketmaster's fees structure?


ian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ian said...

Typical NME, always on the pulse. James Purnell is now the pensions minister. The creative industries minister is now former Tory Shaun Woodward (woodwardsh@parliament.uk) but the head of the department is Tessa Jowell (tessa.jowell@culture.gsi.gov.uk). Although why she's more concerned about people buying tickets from touts than how her mortgage gets paid is a mystery to me. The reason why they're not interested in Ticketmaster, Live 8, et al is probably revealed in the attendance to the ticket touting summit...

Anonymous said...

The 'problem' is hugely exaggerated. The subtext here is that people who are prepared to spend 10x face value are squeezing out those who can't and that this is wrong. You could say this isn't much of an issue because if Babyshambles gigs (to take a crap example) were suddenly chock full of bankers and estate agents, they might not be so attractive to anyone else. Of course that's never going to happen in any case. If you look at a typical sold out show (e.g. YYY's upcoming gigs), the tickets are readily available for around 2x face value on ebay. That's pretty much the high end (apart from the odd exception like Tom Waits or Glasto where it could be argued that the market should rule so we can see who the real audience is for that kind of thing).

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