Put Fans On Backburner

Ticketing reform coalition Put Fans First’s chances of persuading the government to exercise some control over secondary ticketing took a knock when the department of culture, media and sport said it “did not anticipate supporting a move toward regulation.”

A statement was posted on the DCMS website within three days of a meeting between the “Put Fans First” group, which includes Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood and top concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith among its champions, and culture secretary Jeremy Hunt.

“This government, in any case, believes the lightest practical regulatory burden is the right approach,” the DCMS wrote. “Unless there is a demonstrable market failure there is not a case for government action.”

Many in the UK live music business believe the government will be happy for the issue to stay in the long grass until it’s embarrassed by a fiasco surrounding one of its “crown jewel” events, particularly next year’s Olympic Games.

Smallwood told The Times that half of the tickets on sale for some events mysteriously appear on the so-called secondary sites.

“And who gains from that? Not the artist or the event, not the taxman, and certainly not the fans,” he said.

Smallwood told Pollstar it “doesn’t make any sense” to comment until his group has had chance to “fine tune” its strategy, following the meeting with Hunt.

The group is treading a well-worn path to the DCMS and so far this year there have been at least five separate online petitions supporting a cap on ticket resale mark-ups.

However, PFF has the support of a Who’s Who of live music firms including Festival Republic, IE Music (which manages Robbie Williams, Jimmy Page, and Duffy), plus agencies and promoters including The Agency Group, K2 Agency, Kilimanjaro Live, X-Ray Touring and 13 Artists.

Also said to be on board are Tony Smith, whose management CV includes Genesis and Phil Collins, Brontone Management (Muse and The Pogues), Arctic Monkeys’ management Wildlife Entertainment, promoter Phil McIntyre Entertainment Ltd, Stage Entertainment UK, Courtyard Management (Radiohead), and the organisations representing independent music companies and independent festivals.

Their initial three-pronged attack included collecting the 100,000 signatures needed to force a parliamentary vote on the issue.

Earlier this year, Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, proposed that the profit on resold tickets should be capped at 10 percent.

That’s similar to the legislation that Live Nation Belgium chief Herman Schueremans has been trying to put before his national parliament, although his efforts have been stymied by his country going without a government for the last 18 months.

The PFF initiative is the broadest-based campaign for government action on secondary ticketing since Tessa Jowell and the previous Labour administration passed up the chance to take action against touts in 2008.

On that occasion, a government study determined that the secondary ticket market could police itself.