Viagogo Bottles Out

Secondary ticket seller Viagogo has pulled out of the cocktail party it was hosting with UK agent Carl Leighton-Pope on the first day of ILMC.

A week before the March 9 gathering at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and a week after the company was the subject of an investigative television documentary, Leighton-Pope sent a note to everyone who had been invited.

“Viagogo Are Not Coming To The Party,” it said.

Leighton-Pope, who works for Viagogo in an ambassadorial role, has called upon German concert promoter Karsten Jahnke to help with the mingling with guests.

“It’s just me and Karsten Jahnke, hosting a great cocktail party,” the revamped invitation explained. “Come and have a drink with me! – Carl,” it said at the end.

At press time it wasn’t possible to get comment from Viagogo chief Eric Baker or Leighton-Pope on why the American-owned resell firm had pulled out of its own party.

The TV documentary, called “The Great Ticket Scandal,” was a public relations disaster for Viagogo, arch rival Seatwave and some of the UK’s biggest concert promoters.

Two reporters from Channel 4’s “Dispatches” team went undercover at Viagogo’s London office to lift the lid on how the UK’s ticket resale business operates.

It claimed that Viagogo and Seatwave are far from being solely fan-to-fan sites and that as many as two-thirds of the its tickets come from show promoters and bulk purchasers.

Apart from getting an allocation from promoters – Live Nation, SJM Concerts, Metropolis, 3A and MCD were among those named in the program – it also said Baker’s company gobbles up even more of the inventory by using teams of buyers with piles of credit cards registered to different addresses.

A day before it was screened, Viagogo failed in its attempt to get a High Court injunction to have it stopped.

For years, secondary ticketing has been the most contentious issue in the UK live music business – if not the global one. Backstage before the ILMC ticketing panel of 2008, artist manager Jazz Summers reportedly gestured as if he was about to attack Baker with a bottle.

Baker was appalled and clearly shaken by the incident.

At a cocktail party, maybe Viagogo’s opponents would have had too many weapons within easy reach.