"BUY or SELL Dropkick Murphs tickets, BUY or SELL". A familiar sound to any concert goer leaving the tube station before heading down the road to the venue. These often flat-cap wearing "geezers" do their best rain or shine to continue the far more direct instigation of ticket touting but whilst yes they're fairly irritating and can never seem to pronounce the name of the artist's properly they have truly become a dying trade in the shadow of the far more expansive and exploitative secondary ticket business running online. Chatting to one of these touts outside of a recent Dropkick Murphys show at London's Brixton Academy, they admitted as much, "... it is getting harder to make any money selling tickets outside of the venue these days. It's all online, everything's online now and I don't use computers." Now before you pull out the worlds smallest violin or double check whether you're actually reading an article on the Daily Mash, there was something this chap added on to this (before becoming highly irritated that we weren't going to be buying a ticket off him) which did resonate a bit more with the general state of this trade at the moment - "I never thought I'd see the day where the official ticket outlets had themselves started to back the touting business, but now it all makes sense."

Ticket Masters


Whilst we were being slightly facetious in poking him for an insight in to his own exploitative DNA, he was right. Years ago no one could have possibly foreseen that websites like Ticketmaster were going to end up benefitting financially in the darker side of their business, but let's all be honest for a moment, once all the pieces fell in to place at a board meeting in their imperious island lair (or office) they probably felt like Lionel Messi does when bearing down on an open goal. TWO of the big four secondary ticket selling sites are owned by Ticketmaster. But what does that actually mean? Well in simple terms, Ticketmaster subsequently end up getting paid twice - their rightful commission on the original ticket sale and then again from any resale at the hugely inflated prices. They are the puppeteers making everyone dance to their tune. With that said, it is incredibly difficult to take them even remotely seriously when commenting on the success of a recent initiative put in place by Iron Maiden to prevent re-sales but Andrew Parsons (Ticketmaster UK Managing Director) certainly did his best - "Iron Maiden has been clear from the beginning: eliminate resale and get tickets directly into the hands of fans. We're proud that our Paperless ticketing technology has been able to achieve this for the band, their team and the fans.". You can almost picture him grimacing and shaking his fist in the air whilst dictating that quote to his PA. Then again, their paperless technology? They've probably found a way to make up for some of the cash that could've been made through GetMeIn or Seatwave so we can all breath a huge sigh of relief on that then...

Brave New World

As you look across music at the moment, whether they're Rock, Pop, Dance or whatever, there are artists beginning to rise up in the fight against the frankly scandalous online ticket touting at the moment. There was a block of time where this side of the business was beginning to grow when no one really grasped the initiative to nip it in the bud - who could have predicted its growth to be honest? But as live shows have become the true bread and butter cash generator for musicians now (gone are the days where bands could release an album and then decide to tour it when they felt like it several months down the line), the focus on this market has ended up being constantly heightened. Whilst there are still some truly BIG names who need to say and do more in this fight there are certainly some spearheading the way. In fairness to Iron Maiden, this is an issue they've been trying to fight for several years now, and following the launch of their latest ticket scheme they've been able to give a pretty good insight in to how successful their tussle has been so far.

Look at those glares. They're not mucking about.

What they did implement doesn't sound like rocket science at all, they simply worked at bringing in an extensive "paperless" ticket scheme which would require the purchaser's ID and credit/debit card information on entry to the venue. Sounds incredibly simple right? Yes. A particularly vocal presence in all of this has been the band's manager Rod Smallwood who subsequently commented, " We are delighted that the paperless ticketing system and other measures we instigated here in the UK have proved a massive deterrent to touts and counterfeiters. We want to thank our fans for their enduring support and patience. We appreciate that our stringent policy has meant fans having to jump over one more hurdle in the ticket-buying process but the results speak for themselves and I think everyone can agree this was well worth it."

Last year Iron Maiden joined other acts including Arctic Monkeys, Noel Gallagher and several more in launching the FanFair Alliance. As a campaign they were looking to take on the secondary ticket selling sites alongside pressuring politicians to take this far more seriously than they perhaps had done beforehand. Commenting on this particular angle, Rod Smallwood went on to say "... we very much welcome the excellent work of the FanFair Alliance and the fact that the Culture, Media & Sports Committee recently re-opened the debate in the House Of Commons on this ongoing problem and trust that common sense and good judgement will prevail." To a point the latter part of this proved to be a success as representatives from StubHub and Ticketmaster were forced to face MPs in an inquisition at the stated committee. Whilst major newspapers did pick up on the news in the immediate aftermath, looking back and watching through all of the footage again it's borderline staggering how nonchalant they were. The attitude portrayed on the day can be summarised as such: well we've done our bit implementing some level of security but anything beyond that doesn't become our problem anymore. Of course it doesn't.

Josh Francheschi appearing at the Culture, Media & Sports Committee

On the day itself, You Me At Six vocalist Josh Francheschi also gave evidence. Commenting on their stance on the situation Josh stated, "We are fighting the battle for fair prices for live music fans. Every artist's touring career is built on the passion and support of their fanbase. For those true supporters to be ripped off by secondary sites and being charged double, treble the face value for the right to see their favourite artists is unacceptable." With the debate re-opened politically and several MPs giving it their backing, the issue now turns to continuing with piling on the pressure. Smallwood's presentation of the kind of success Iron Maiden have garnered in implementing certain initiatives should certainly help encourage other top artists who may have felt there wasn't much they could do or were simply unaware of the scale. Commenting specifically on Iron Maiden's latest upcoming tour in support of the 2015 release The Book Of Souls Smallwood gave further insight in to the kind of success the scheme has had, " On the first day of public sale, we sold over 100,000 tickets nationwide direct to genuine fans through the proper legitimate channels. This is an incredible achievement and victory for concert-goers, not least as this is a full 12 date UK tour we're undertaking, not just a couple of dates in the bigger cities. We've calculated that around one million pounds worth of mark-up on tickets, is not sitting in the hands of touts, but instead the tickets are sitting in the hands of the fans at the correct price and we think that is a great result and makes all our efforts worthwhile." In comparison to their last UK Arena tour in 2011, the number of tickets available on these sites has gone down by 95%. You can't argue with those facts.

Gates Of Tomorrow

Now we know you're going to be sitting there frothing at the mouth and screaming that all secondary ticket selling sites are evil but as with any shit-storm in human history, there are always shining lights hidden in the mire. Enter Twickets. Starting out in 2011 as a service run entirely through Twitter they help facilitate the secure transfer of tickets between fans if they found themselves with a spare. The huge success and expansion in to running a full site only amplified the need and desire for this kind of service. The company prevents you from being able to post any tickets above face value and provide a financial guarantee to buyers should anything go wrong. THIS is how ticket resale sites should work and anyone doing otherwise should frankly be ashamed of themselves.


As noted then, this has been written almost as a call to arms to keep up the pressure and maintain awareness. There won't be many who thank Iron Maiden directly for sharing this information but we're convinced these kind of results will help push other big artists to either follow suit or come up with their own initiatives to tackle the online touts. There is no greater bond in music than an artist and fans in a live environment; the fight needs to continue to prevent the exploitation of that.

Let us know what YOU think about this ongoing scrap and whether you feel bands like Iron Maiden are starting to make a real difference:

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