Ticketmaster’s decision to shut SeatWave and Get Me In! was greeted by a polite ripple of applause from music fans rather than the kind of whooping that might be reserved for their favourite artist coming on stage. Was this decision a bold one? Or was it a straight forward piece of strategy designed to make them more money? At first look Ticketmaster have decided that the secondary market is more trouble than it’s worth. Industry sources say that TM have been planning to shut down Seatwave and GMI! for over a year. There contribution to Ticketmaster's billion pound profit last year was slight in the case on Get Me In and non existent in the case of Seatwave, which lost over £3M last year.
Add to that bad PR, government departments producing multiple reports calling for an industry clean up, the cost of implementing technology to combat bots, an investigation from the CMA, raids by Trading Standards and a mass of complaints to advertising watchdogs about the transparency in ticket resales. This all adds up to a simple and pragmatic decision rather than one born from altruism.
So what does this leave us with? With two of the biggest players out of the way, StubHub and Viagogo, could now pick up business from touts with a shrinking range of options. So the fight goes on in the secondary market.
There is also wide spread scepticism that Ticketmaster’s long term strategy is to follow the capped fan to fan ticket exchange of platforms such as Twickets. It must have occurred to Ticketmaster that if top selling artists offer tickets at affordable prices they are leaving money on the table that the touts are sweeping away.
When looking at Ticketmaster’s new Platinum service it is hard to see how they want fans to hang on to their excess cash. Under the platinum service tickets are drip fed into the market for hundreds of pounds after desperate fans have been told the event is sold out. To be fair it is billed as a service to provide access to the best seats in the venue. Worryingly, Ticketmaster seems uncomfortable in explaining how this service works in a transparent way when pushed.
So who? You might ask, is looking after their fan base here? There are now dozens of artists who have taken a stance against the secondary marketing of their tickets by limiting access to shows at the venue doors. This is a long overdue step in the right direction.
But more could be done. The technology, data and insight is already being used to help artists understand who, what and where fan demand is. This logic and insight can be applied to ticket allocation and pricing very simply. For instance we are working with a number of artists who want to make sure only their most engaged “Super Fans” gain first and affordable access to the best seats at their shows.
Why is this technology not being applied across the board? Are artists more worried about upsetting ticket selling platforms than they are about protecting their fans from questionable marketing strategies? Will an AAA artist stand up against the primary ticket market next?
The good will out of course and, as the tech becomes more widely adopted, artists will understand the ease of which they can measure and meet their fan’s needs. Ultimately this will allow them to take back control of profits and marketing by moving them away from third party organisations.
We are helping dozens of artists to overcome these and many other challenges. Please call our Head of Business Development Rob Sealy, on 07919 001752, if you would like to talk in more detail.