Its interesting that Tessa Jowell has announced another inquiry on the subject of ticket touting – as mentioned on the NME and BBC web sites. Call me cynical but this might to an action to gain some positive press after all the bad press over the Olympic Games costs and super casinos. Setting that aside, this is actually nothing very new, the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)(the department responsible for such things) and the select committee for Culture, Media and Sport covering culture affairs have been making announcements and raising questions going back to 2004 and earlier – a quick search of the DCMS’ website turns up glossy documentation for the department’s objectives identifying the addressal of ticket touting back in 1999(clearly stated on page 15).
Yet nothing beyond talking about the fact that ticket touting is bad seems to be getting done. Nearly a year ago, the Tessa Jowell at the DCMS held a ‘summit’ on this issue (NME & BBC coverage), you would have thought that after this time they would have progressed things even a little bit. I’m the first to agree that the issue isn’t simple – after all those people who have genuinely purchased tickets, and then can’t attend an event have a legitimate reason to sell on tickets. But undeniably there are people out there buying up tickets to then sell on at inflated prices. The other thing that I can’t make sense of is the fact that touting tickets for football matches has been addressed.
But on the subject of inflated or inflating prices, it seems to me that ticket prices for concerts have been climbing very rapidly over that last couple of years. According to the BBC tickets have prices have been going up 10% per year (article here). Tickets to stadium concerts now seem to average £50 for a cheap seat – forgive me for my ignorance, but I thought economies of scale meant these things should get more expensive.
Then we have the super price concerts such as Madonna (£80-£160) and now Barbra Striesand (£100-£500) and Rolling Stones (£150). Admittedly Striesand will be touring with a large orchestra (but you can see the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican for £20) and Madonna’s show looked fairly complex to setup – but no more so than say Peter Gabriel (who’s tickets are at the most a third of the price).
The last sin, in the whole ticket story is the artists auctioning their own tickets to get as much as they can for the best seats. But I’ve blogged about that before.
So are the touts the only ones with outrageous expectations? What are the real chances of the politicians going something about rip off ticket prices (touts and artists)?