Giddings Also Goes Viagogo

Within 24 hours of the announcement that Festival Republic’s U.K. festivals will use viagogo as its official secondary ticketing partner, John Giddings’ Isle Of Wight Festival has followed suit.

Giddings said the recent media coverage of untrustworthy ticket touts made him want to make sure that festivalgoers could purchase tickets from a reliable source.

Viagogo, the company started by StubHub founder Eric Baker, which attracted raised eyebrows in the U.K. by touting Michael Jackson tickets for promoter AEG, has signed similar deals with Madonna for her Sticky & Sweet tours. However, it’s the first time major music festivals have signed partnerships of this kind.

The deals mean Baker now has agreements with three of the major U.K. music festivals and one of its most prestigious smaller ones. The combined capacity of Isle of Wight and Festival Republic’s three events – Reading and Leeds festivals and the smaller, 3-year-old Latitude Festival – is close to 250,000.

Last year, Benn’s festivals were hit when rogue Internet sites including SOS Master Tickets and Xclusive Tickets, which has subsequently gone into liquidation, made an estimated £5 million ($7.2 million) collecting money for tickets they didn’t have.

“What really gets me most is that it’s millions of pounds that won’t find it’s way back into the music industry,” Benn said as details of the scam emerged.

Six people believed to be connected with the online ticket agencies have since been arrested by the Serious Fraud Office.

Benn has agreed to work with viagogo as the recommended and only official ticket exchange and is warning ticket buyers not to use other re-sale sites.
“If fans use other ticket exchanges or buy from unauthorized agents they risk being defrauded and not getting their festival tickets,” he explained.

Giddings, whose 2008 IOW ticket problems had more to do with a glut of poor forgeries, said he’s hooking up with viagogo because he has “absolute confidence” it will offer the “best possible service to our customers.”

Since 2006, viagogo has provided the official ticket resale service for top football clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea FC. Both clubs’ ticket exchanges allow season ticket holders to sell their spare tickets to other fans in a safe and secure environment.

Baker said viagogo is honoured to be working with what are considered to be among the world’s premier music festivals.

Meanwhile, Benn is also sticking to his ILMC pledge to take PRS For Music to court over the performance royalties he’s being asked to stump up for Latitude.

He told the conference’s festival panel that only 17 percent of the Suffolk event’s entertainment output is music-related, and he believes he should be paying 3 percent of 17 percent of the gross (less VAT) ticket income and not 3 percent of the total gross that the PRS license requires. Giddings was among those who were enthusiastic in their support for his stance.

Benn told the ILMC session that many people attend Latitude for comedy and theatre and he has been refusing to pay what PRS wants.

The matter may well go to court, as PRS says Benn is wrong to base his argument on performance times, equating an hour-long mainstage show in front of a full arena with the same length show that a juggler does to 20 people.