A majority of British concert-goers who buy resale tickets are attending fewer concerts and festivals due to inflated prices, a new report on online ticket touting says.

Ticked Off: Consumer Attitudes to Secondary Ticketing also found that the 1,200 consumers surveyed said they are spending less money at events on things like recorded music, merchandise and food and drinks.

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“There is growing opposition to what many feel are systematic abuses and misleading practices,” in the secondary market, Adam Webb of the FanFair Alliance writes in the report. The group sponsored the study as part of its efforts to stop ticket scalping by secondary ticketing platforms like StubHub, Viagogo, GetMeIn and Seatwave.

“The purpose of commissioning this research was to cut through the emotional discourse, and to ask a wide cross-section of the public about their perceptions of ticket resale, and to better discern the impact of current secondary market practices,” he adds.

Three primary ticketing companies – See Tickets, The Ticket Factory and Twickets – sponsored the research, which was conducted in June and covered a sample population of people between the ages of 16 and 65 who live in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“The faceless secondary market in its current form is harming the UK’s creative economy by diverting revenue from the live events industry at large,” writes Phil Mead, managing director of The Ticket Factory. “The effects of this largely unregulated market are felt across every level of the industry…It is not just affecting artists, agents and promoters, but it is also increasingly tarnishing the reputation of venues that have to deal with distraught customers who can’t gain access to a gig or performance.”

It was unclear as of Monday if any of the four companies cited in the report had issued statements in response to its findings.

Ticket touting has generated a lot of attention in the UK from advocacy groups and government officials. The FanFair Alliance was launched in July 2016 to push for new consumer protection legislation, transparent market transactions and to promote companies that embrace fair ticket sales. Since then, more than 100 music managers, live agents, venues, promoters, ticketing companies and trade organizations have signed a declaration saying they will stand up for consumer rights against ticket scalpers.

And in December, the Competition and Markets Authority announced it was investigating online secondary ticket sales in response to complaints from live music fans.

“We feel compelled to do all we can to put touts out of business and help ensure that tickets go to genuine fans,” writes See Tickets CEO Rob Wilmshurst.

The Ticked Off results show music fans admitting they are spending less on live music because they are tired of buying tickets that are more expensive than face value. Of those surveyed, 68 percent say they are attending fewer gigs as a result. Another 66 percent are spending less on merchandise, while 60 percent are opting to stay home from festivals.

More fans say secondary ticket market has influenced their spending on food and drinks at live events. Just under half say they are buying less recorded music that is sold at concerts and festivals.

Among the report’s other key findings:

  • Nearly 75 percent of British consumers believe the secondary ticket marketing is concerning to music fans. That figure rises to 82 percent among those who have actually used secondary websites to buy concert and festival tickets.
  • Most people – 80 percent of those surveyed – said the “Big Four” secondary sites  – StubHub, Viagogo, GetMeIn and Seatwave  – are “ripping off the fans,” with just over half “strongly agreeing” with that statement,” the report says.
  • Sixty-four percent of survey respondents said the Big Four are “damaging the UK music industry.”
  • A small percentage – 16 percent – believe secondary ticketers “provide a valuable service and should be allowed to continue as they are,” the report says.
  • Fifty-nine percent say tickets sales for events should avoid dynamic pricing model similar to those used in the airline industry.

What’s more, only 34 percent of those surveyed actually understand the difference between primary and secondary ticket sellers; 44 percent don’t know the difference and 23 percent say they aren’t sure. Only 22 percent say the find it easy to distinguish between a primary and secondary source when they shop for live music tickets.

According to the data, 82 percent of the UK population surveyed say the Big Four ticket resellers should fess up to the identity of the original sellers, with a booking reference and serial number. The British Consumer Rights Act currently requires secondary platforms to provide seat numbers.

Twickets Founder Richard Davies writes that the report “highlights the damage being done to the entertainment industry as a whole by such unscrupulous activity. We hope this research alerts everyone in the industry to the threat posed by the Big Four.”

The fans surveyed say they aren’t against reselling companies – they just want the process to be fair, the report says. They want to be able to resell a ticket for the same price they paid for it. Only one in five people believe they should be able to make a profit from ticket resales; 23 percent believe people should be barred from reselling concert tickets at all.

Lastly, consumers said they tend to seek out the secondary ticket market because they want to get their hands on tickets to shows they didn’t find out about until they were sold out. Of those who said they would do it again, 36 percent said they only would if they couldn’t buy a ticket when it went on sale; another 36 percent said they would if they found out about a show once it was sold out; and 31 percent said they would if they could find a deal and pay a price that was below face value.

Maggie O'Brien

Maggie O'Brien

Maggie O'Brien has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She's covered everything from from crime to politics to fitness. Writing about bands and shows takes her back to the days of going to punk rock shows in the Midwest.
Maggie O'Brien

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