In an unexpected turn of events, I managed to buy a couple of last minute returned tickets to the sold out NME awards show at the Brighton Dome, through the Dome’s own ticket office. The show’s line up was Azealia Banks, Tribes, Metronomy and Two Door Cinema Club.
I’d originally planned to talk about the artists, about how Azealia showed a lot of swagger, promise and style, but little in the way of stand out tracks in her set. Or the stark contrast between how bored I became during Tribes’ set compared to how exciting and interesting Metronomy were.
What I couldn’t help noticing on the night with our seated tickets, however, were the amount of empty seats in the auditorium. At the time, I assumed it must have been a popular gig with the more fortunate of Brighton’s citizens, who could afford to pay for their entrance but then spend the whole night milling around the bar area paying their prices for drinks. Maybe everyone had managed to sneak into the standing area, although that didn’t look properly packed until Two Door Cinema Club appeared.
However, a few days later I caught up with the Dispatches documentary “The Great Ticket Scandal” aired on C4.
It focussed on the secondary ticketing market, and specifically, on two websites: Viagogo and Seatwave. The programme claimed that the sites marketed themselves as ‘fan-to-fan’ ticket services, the idea being that if you were unable to go to a concert after you’d bought a ticket, you could sell your tickets directly to another fan, rather than using a tout.
Adrian Larkin on BBC 6 Music News gets the reaction from Ed Parkinson, Director at Viagogo UK:
Using a dollop of investigative journalism, the documentary shows a heck of a lot of footage that indicates that most of the tickets sold through the sites come from ‘Pro-sellers’ – people with enough capital to splash out on say, a hundred tickets to an event at face value, who can then use viagogo or seatwave to sell those tickets on at a massive mark up.
Not only that, but the dispatches documentary also pointed to one of the major promoters – SJM and how they’d allocated tickets to certain tours straight to these secondary sites, rather then selling them honestly to fans. Dispatches said the promoter then recieved 90% of the mark up made on the tickets sold through Viagogo (in this case.)
Then, I looked down at my own ticket from the NME awards show that I’d shoved into a coat pocket and forgotten about. What name did I see at the top?… “SJM Concerts presents.”
Now, the first time I came across Viagogo or Seatwave was when the tickets for the NME awards tour went on sale. Although they didn’t sell out within minutes to my knowledge, I didn’t get hold of tickets before they had sold out and as a result ended up like so many people before me depressingly considering the ludicrously expensive alternative websites as a means of gaining entrance to the Dome that night.
At this point I should probably tell you that as far as I know, everything was above board. I’m certainly not trying to imply there was anything wrong with what the NME did, the Brighton Dome or any of the artists that night.
I merely noticed that there were plenty of tickets available on the secondary websites mentioned on the documentary, and the amount of empty seats in the auditorium was striking at a show which was supposedly sold out. Also, the fact that it happened to be promoted by SJM is what prompted this article. I just couldn’t help but wonder…
Sharon Hodgson, an MP campaigning for a bill to passed limiting these secondary ticketing websites interviewed by Andrew Larkin:
Now, on a lighter note.
In case you were wondering, Two Door Cinema Club performed a fantastic set to round off the night and have changed, (or is developed a better word?) since I saw them just last year at The Roundhouse. Benjamin Thompson on drums was still an incredible sight to behold, and to be completely frank, “F***ing amazing” to watch, to quote my drunken self from the night. They showcased a few of the new tracks from their upcoming album that promises to deliver much more of what any fans of their last album want.
If you want to hear from Ed Parkinson, Director at Viagogo UK talking to BBC 6 Music News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music/news/20120224_tickets.shtml
For the twitter discussion, go to https://twitter.com/#!/C4Dispatches
Also check out the CMU article on the response from the promoters to the whole thing.