There has been a point in most of our lives, especially for us music fans, when we’ve had to face the fretful task of purchasing tickets online. The scenario is one familiar to our species: sitting anxiously at the computer screen, anticipating the ticket sales for a favourite band; slowly the clock hand creeps towards 9am as you prepare yourself for the battle that is set to commence between you and your fellow consumers. But what if it wasn’t your “fellow consumers” whose clicking techniques you were hoping to outwit? Instead, imagine you were up against the entertainment industry’s very own Terminator robot. But rather than this machine being sent to destroy life-forms, this one would much rather buy the tickets you’ve had your eyes on for months on end.
A recent Which? report has suggested that this may not be so unrealistic. The report, which monitored four of the biggest secondary ticketing sites (Seatwave, Viagogo, StubHub! and Get me in!) from August to October last year, discovered numerous causes for suspicion in ticket sale patterns. It has been indicated that “botnets” may be part of the reason you struggle to get tickets for your favourite music acts. But what exactly are botnets?
Botnets are illegal computer systems, used by touts to buy large amounts of tickets as soon as the clock reaches 9am. This latest revelation, along with much else exposed by the Which? report, has reignited the fury over ticket touts and the power they wield over the events industry.
Many artists, including Adele and Mumford and Sons, have recently spoken out against touts and called for a change in the law. Considering this is a problem for music fans and not necessarily the industry, this is something we should be happy to hear coming from our biggest stars. Touts have long been a problem which has only continued to grow whilst the industry has turned a blind eye, allowing genuine music fans to miss out. As our world becomes ever more digitalised, the issue threatens to escalate if nothing is done. As long as botnets are buying tickets in a matter of seconds, there is no chance of the likes of you and me getting our hands on the best seats in the house. Currently no law is in place to stop touts abusing the system and ripping off fans. As well as the use of botnet devices, the Which? report also found evidence that tickets were appearing simultaneously on primary and resale sites, and even appearing on resale sites before they were officially released. The report further indicated that current resale restrictions were being ignored.
The problems aren’t caused by individuals wishing to sell on tickets for events they cannot attend, but by touting professionals. But as long as no law is in place to stop touting, can we really blame those who are diligent enough to take advantage? After all, the act may be frowned upon, but it is not yet a crime. If anything, considering the law should be in place to safeguard the masses, why hasn’t a law yet been passed to stop this? At the moment, the interests of touts are coming before music fans, and this is something that should infuriate us all. However, it no longer seems odd, and therefore unacceptable, to see second-hand tickets selling for way above the normal price for top acts. Because of this we have grown unaware and somewhat immune to the true extent to which we are being abused. When bands and artists are struggling for money from records – and ticket prices are already extensive – touts are adding insult to injury. Yet having said this, there are sites leading the way to a far more reasonable means of selling second-hand tickets. Twickets and Scarlet Mist are just two examples of sites that sell tickets at face value only or below. Yes, you may not be able to earn a small profit on those tickets for the shows you cannot attend, but think of how you’d benefit when sat before your computer screen at 9am if this was common practice. Considering this problem could quite easily be solved if real action was taken, hopefully this latest resurgence in opposition to touting will finally bring with it some justice for those the industry relies on – fans like you and me.