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Ticketing: Paying the price

Ticketing: Paying the price

Chair: Tim Chambers, TJ Chambers Consultancy (UK)

Guest speakers:
Oliver Hoppe, Wizard Promotions (DE)
David Marcus, Ticketmaster (US)
Paul Newman, AXS Europe (UK)
Adam Webb, FanFair Alliance (UK)
Steve Zapp, ITB (UK)

Always one of the most popular sessions at ILMC, this year’s ticketing panel was no exception with chairman Chambers broaching a range of subjects including how shows are priced, multiple pre-sales depleting inventory for primary onsales, and, of course, resale.

Chambers began by establishing with Zapp that the ticket price is decided by a combination of the artist, management, agent and promoter, but that price is face value-only, rather than including booking fees and other additional costs to the consumer. Hoppe however commented that there is a difference between “what can we charge versus what should we charge,” noting that overpricing may harm the artist’s brand.

Railing against the notion of all-in pricing, Marcus recalled the response of Depeche Mode manager Jonathan Kessler to the concept. “His reaction was ‘You’ve got herpes and you want to give it to me too’ meaning that the band was willing to carry the $69 ticket face value, but not the additional $10 of fees.”

Marcus revealed his company is moving toward a situation where they are pricing on an almost seat-by-seat basis. “We can have 24 price levels across a stadium show,” he said, rather than the traditional two or three pricing levels. However, Webb commented that 24 pricing points could pose potential issues with transparency.

“WE’RE DILIGENT, BUT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT”

Hoppe said that in Germany they are trying to come up with solutions through legislation to regulate the secondary ticketing business. “Otherwise, every model that we work with is not thought through – it costs the promoter, the artist, money for lawyers to challenge what secondary platforms, in the likes of the Netherlands, are doing with tickets,” he said.

Noting that Amazon had been personalising its sales for about 20 years, Marcus observed that ticketing had a lot to catch up on. “At Ticketmaster, we’re going to start delivering tickets to consumers based on who they are.” He explained that Verified Fan allows consumers to register their interest in a band in a certain city or market, so that they can separate fans from resellers when inviting them to participate in ticketing offers.

Agreeing with Chambers that there are too many pre-sales, Newman stated that he does not think those pre-sales are going to disappear at any time soon. “The question is, who is in those pre-sales – are they humans or are they bots, and are you bothered about that? We are. We are diligent, but there are people who are not.”

Marcus advocated industry-driven solutions to problems, such as Ticketmaster’s negotiations with Google in the United States, rather than national legislation, while underlining the complexity of the ticketing market from one country to another, Hoppe said that many acts had fans that still buy tickets from box offices – sometimes 25% in Germany – or do not have mobile phones or understand the Internet. “Any solutions have to take those people into consideration too,” said Hoppe.

Meanwhile, delegate Stuart Galbraith of Kilimanjaro Live described the process that they went thought to try to get as many tickets into the hands of true fans as possible. But he noted that the issue in adopting similar measures globally, whilst possible, remains elusive because of industry politics. “The large corporations are preventing this happening because they are pursuing their own individual agendas,” he stated.