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Is there a better way to sell tickets?

This post was originally published on the Mumubl.com Newsletter. For updates and recommendations direct to your inbox don’t forget to subscribe.

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Welcome again to the Mumubl.com newsletter and my thoughts on the goings on in the music industry.

As ever my musing on the music industry leave me with more questions than answers and like so many areas there is real pressure for reform. When it comes to ticketing some of this is being taken on board, the current systems are often proving unworkable for especially for large scale gigs and tours. Is there a better way?

I always enjoy the feedback I get from anyone – on any aspect of the content produced at Mumubl.com so please don’t hesitate to get in touch – and of course spread the word – as Grant Nicholas sang on Feeder’s “Echo Park” album “tell all your friends”.

Thanks as always


[main image : Photo by me, yes I got tickets for once]

Currently checking out – “The Ballad of Darren” by Blur

It was, I think, the third or fourth time this year I’ve sat watching a Ticketmaster queue whilst Gigs and Tours refreshes in another browser window. Yet for the first time in what feels like ages it refreshed and there I was on the “select your tickets” screen. A countdown timer running in the corner pressuring me to choose tickets whilst I rushed to check that no one else I was buying for had got through yet and also praying desperately that I’d make it through the entire purchase process without getting kicked out, or hitting a payment issue. But I finally managed to secure some tickets to an event, in this case the Foo Fighters 2024 tour. Since my previous recent attempts though, which included comedian Peter Kay both at pre sale and general sale and Eurovision, and with the high profile debacle of Taylor Swift ticket sales in the states, the question has been on my mind – is there a better way to do this?

I’m a big sports fan and this is an area with many big ticket events that need management and are done so in a variety of ways. Unfortunately my beloved rugby league rarely has a ticketing issue but I have previously applied for Olympics tickets, in the UK back in 2012 and more recently for Paris 2024. Both are done via a lottery system. I’m also a big football fan and long gone are the days I could easily pick up a few tickets for games as Aston Villa’s season petered out towards the back end of the season, now there are various memberships and weightings to get tickets for any match. I’ve tried getting tickets for visiting friends who want to watch Manchester United as well and it’s very difficult without a club membership and often knowing someone who knows someone who knows the tricks.

This idea of a loyalty weighting system finding it’s way into music, rewarding fans for supporting a group, or, if you’re cynical, as a marketing ploy to boost album sales. But the Foo Fighters pre sale code was available to fans who bought the album (I’m not sure if these were individually unique) and the latest Taylor Swift sales in the UK and Europe were done again using pre sale codes for those who bought the album and then prior to general sale fans had to have registered interest before a deadline. There was a lot of planning required as ticket releases were staggered by city to spread out the demand, but it paid off and I think generally it seemed to be taken better online than the previous free for all. It felt something had been done to earn those tickets rather than random pot luck of an the online queue and all it’s horrors of drops offs and failures.

I assume as well that at each step of the way for Taylor Swift tickets there is an opportunity to filter out the usual bots and scalpers, and I think this is the biggest issue for fans. Most will be acceptant of the fact that in the case of large acts like Taylor Swift and the Foo Fighters, more people want to go to a show than can be accommodated so some will miss out. What they don’t like to miss out to is these organisations that are then dropping tickets onto resale sites at many multiples of face value minutes after a pre sale has started. I’ve always thought that one way to help stem this tide would be to manage returns and resale in house, allow returns for a small admin fee, a very small fraction of the ticket price, and then resell them yourself at face value. Put in more stringent ID checks etc when admitting people to help stop tickets being randomly spread about.

All in all I think it does boil down to two problems, demand often outstrips supply and bots and scalpers still find ways through. I’m not sure what the answer in but I think these incentives for fans who have supported the band are a great step in the right direction and echo the types of schemes we see in sport – which I accept is a bit different as they have so many more events on. I’d point you in the direction of two recommended bits of listening if you are interested in the subject though

“The weird history of concert tickets” on The Ongoing history of new music podcast.

“Speculative ticketing is, essentially, fraud!” on the Music Ally Focus podcast

I’d also be intrigued to here your ideas of ticketing solutions – give us a shout on our social media if you have any suggestions.

This post was originally published on the Mumubl.com Newsletter. For updates and recommendations direct to your inbox don’t forget to subscribe.

Subscribe to the Mumubl.com Newsletter

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