The sound of “any spare tickets” outside a concert isn’t a rarity, but it’s hard to ignore the touts when they’re hiding behind their computer screens.
It’s been illegal for football fans to resell their tickets at a profit since 1994, but there’s nothing in place to stop unscrupulous sellers listing their unwanted music tickets.
A quick search on the top four secondary ticketing sites, Viagogo, Seatwave, GetMeIn and StubHub for gigs in Birmingham last week led to nearly all medium to large scale shows being advertised at a huge profit.
If you were interested in getting yourself a golden ticket to Kasabian’s sold-out intimate show at the O2 Academy then you better have a spare £175.99. Think yourself lucky as it was reduced from £439.
Fancied substituting a quiet night in to see The Who tonight? That would’ve been an additional £90 above face value. Not wanting to give up on Rick Astley’s reboot? Expect £150 to see that strong, strong man.
Regret missing Stormzy? You shouldn’t. With that £50 mark-up, they were the ones he was telling to shut up.
The high prices the secondary markets are offering last week aren’t a one-off. Ed Sheeran’s show at the Barclaycard Arena has reached heights of £703, and Black Sabbath’s finale earlier this year doubled the cost of entry.
Don’t want to fall foul of the touts again? We asked some of Birmingham’s music moguls to give you some tips to beat the touts…
The band have the links
Even for local bands, the touts are out to get you. Not even a £5 ticket can tempt them to stay away. Table Scraps think you should always “go directly to the band”.
“They ultimately care most about getting people down so they’ll always link you to the cheapest tickets,” says bassist TJ.
After you’ve asked the band, give them a follow on their Twitter and Facebook.
The America’s Alex Bradshaw says: “The best chances to get tickets are to follow the band’s social media platforms. You’ll be first to know when they’re released and it helps bands out massively as it’ll grow their online presence.”
Also, turn on notifications and add yourself to mailing list. You’ll find out pre-sale dates, what sites to head to and for what time.
Once you know the on-sale date and time, you need to “set an alarm and be ready,” says JAWS frontman Connor Schofield. “Be best prepared beforehand.”
Be ready to refresh as the clock strikes the hour. Have all your details ready to fill in. Don’t be put off by the timer.
If you have everything to hand, you’re less likely to be timed out and have to resort to the extortionate resale prices.
Stick to the places you recognise
It’s easy to get lured away by swanky sites and too-good-to-be-true offers when you do a last minute search for tickets.
Carlo Solazzo of Birmingham Promoters thinks you should always “stick to recognised ticket agents” such as venues, promoters or the official artist site.
When searching for tickets for Ed Sheeran, over half of the sites listed were secondary, with many cheaper, primary agents further down the results.
Ignore the top search results, go to where you know.
Buy off other fans
“For any show you’ll usually find a fellow fan that bought one too many tickets or has a friend with a broken leg,” says The Mothers Earth Experiment guitarist, Jackson Younger. “You’re less likely to get ripped off by a genuine fan as opposed to a capitalist pig.”
Most gigs will have a Facebook event, either created by the promoter, venue or band that fans can post in advertising spare tickets.
Gleam’s Kez Handley says to “post in there asking for tickets or search on Twitter” as these will be the best valued tickets, and you’ll be helping a fellow fan out.
If you’re struggling, go back to the bands again.
“We always help fans by sharing their posts when they’re getting rid of tickets,” says Connor Schofield.
Use resale apps
Birmingham-based Ticket Factory was the first primary agent to stand against secondary ticketing through its partnership with Twickets. Sonic Gun promoter’s Tom Holloway also recommends DICE.
Twickets lets fans buy and sell physical tickets at face value or lower. On the rare occasion tickets can be fake or overpriced, so they “manually check every ticket for accuracy and trading history of the seller”, says founder Richard Davies.
DICE is similar but locks personalised mobile tickets onto the device they’re bought on unless they’re transferred to a friend or someone on the waiting list. It’s impossible for touts to get their hands on tickets.
“The advantage of apps like DICE and Twickets is that they offer transparency with fees unlike secondary resale websites,” says a DICE spokeswoman.
You can save on booking and transaction fees, while getting your hands on tickets for sold-out shows. It’s the best of both worlds.
Miss out and save up for next time
“If tickets sell out and touts abuse this fact, sadly the only way to tackle it is to not buy from them,” says Bradshaw.
It might be hard to sit at home seeing people post about the gig you wanted to go to, but look at the bigger picture. If there’s no market for touts, it’s less likely to happen.
Save the money you would’ve been overcharged, and put it aside for the next tour.
The secondary ticketing market is worth £1bn, and will continue to grow if people carry on resorting to touts.
Connor Schofield adds: “Buying from touts legitimises wheat they’re doing.” By saying no to them, you’ll save money and give more back to the musicians you love.
Touting won’t stop until the Government pass laws to stop it, but until they do, don’t let the touts catch you out. Get prepared and have your tickets secured before they have a chance to. You’ll be thankful you missed that big price tag.