Two weeks ago Sharon Hodgson MP had her Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill, debated in the House of Commons. It’s an attempt to outlaw the controversial touting of gig tickets.

Maybe they should have debate it here first.

Afterall everyone who reads this site is probably a gig goer and has their experience of touts. We spoke to people at gigs and got a varying and more complex picture of the issue.

There were a lot of people against touring- claiming that it pushes up ticket prices and it also means tickets are all bought up en masse by the touts who have the time to jump the queue there were others who were quite relived to grab those last minute tickets. Some people, oddly, claimed to find the touts intimidating.

It’s been a thorny issue for a long time.

We also spoke to some touts who claimed that they were providing a service by holding tickets for their clients. It seemed that there were two types of touts, the old school gentlemen tout who had spent the eighties bunking round Europe selling tickets, grafting and living on the edge of pop culture. They were still with us and worked in a polite and subtle way- almost like a street booking agency and doing most of their business with regular clients over the phone.

There was also the new school of hustlers who were more in your face and they all claimed to be part of the business of music.

Are the touts any more or less on the hustle than anyone else involved in music?
Should touring of tickets be outlawed?

What do you think?

19 COMMENTS

  1. The central issue that I have with touting is the way prices for shows get driven up. I have no problem with individuals buying up tickets and selling them on for a small profit, given that they allow people to get them last minute, but when gig prices are up in the £100s it does seem ridiculous, particularly if this means that the original number of tickets on sale at face value is lowered.

    Maybe a limit on price of sale, rather than outright ban would be a better way to go?

  2. the current monopolistic practices over ticket distribution by “official” retailers (touts) takes the absolute… when did it become acceptable to charge a £2.20 service charge/card handling fee in addition to £3.25 standard mail postage (and/or collection). buying a ticket these days is as unpleasant as booking a trip on ryanair. i’d rather pay a tout! (almost)
    “phantom band tickets on sale from £9.00” – great I’ll have 2. “that’s £25.65 please”.
    FRO. rant over.

  3. I have no issue with people re-selling tickets, how often is it that you buy a ticket up to 8 months in advance never knowing if you’ll be able to go? pretty often. so you sell it on. FOR COST.

    I have no issue either for people who put tickets on e-bay on auction at less than the tickets cost and then end up generating a huge profit. sure they could have asked for the cost price plus charges, but if people want to bid then that’s their right.

    What I can’t abide by is the people who deliberately buy tickets and then re-sell them at a huge profit. As for fan to fan ticketing, don’t make me laugh. that is glorified touting, £64 for a ticket that originally cost £30. GET LOST. And these companies are supported by the industry? It’s a joke, absolute joke.

    As far as I can see the fans lose out, the bands lose out, the promoters lose out and they are the only people who should be involved.

    Can I also just say that the additional costs added on to a ticket price by the ticketing agency is an outrage also. Especially when you buy online. It’s all a database and as for printing your own ticket and being charged for the pleasure?…. RIP OFF.

    The laws surrounding ticketing for gigs in general needs to be looked at. Protect the band protect the fan. That’s what should be most important here.

  4. What infuriates me is that you can spend hundreds of pounds on tickets, the venue will not accept them back for a refund, and then you are made to feel like the bad guy for selling them on!

    Perhaps if venues were more receptive to accepting returns, didn’t milk booking fees for their own gain and actually provided a decent service I might respect their view that touts were ruining the live music scene. As it stands it seems to me companies like TicketMaster are little more than touts in all but name.

  5. The street touts in London aren’t gentlemen at all. I’ve seen the same faces for the twenty years standing outside the Academy, Forum etc. If you ever have a spare ticket to sell and just want to sell it to another punter (for cost of course), they will threaten you. Over the years I’ve seen people being punched and kicked to the ground just for selling a ticket without their permission.

    If venues or promoters could provide a safe and easy way to sell back unwanted tickets, then that would be a great help. Most people don’t want to make a profit but just that the ticket has a good home and the venue is full!

  6. YOU BUY A TICKET…..YOU SEE THE SHOW……AT THE PRICE CHARGED …….I BEEN TO GIGS WITHOUT A TICKET AND HAVE BOUGHT A COUPLE FROM TOUTS…..BUT I WOULD NEVER GO OVER A TENNER…….TOUTS PLAY ON FANS PASSIONS FOR THEIR HEROS AND KNOW THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH OUTRAGEOUS PRICES ……THE ONLY SERVICE THEY PROVIDE IS THEIR BANK BALANCE GOING UP……….

  7. Things have definitely taken a turn for the worse with online “semi professional” touts block buying every event possible for NO other reason than to re sell. Anything from Take That to Green Day, I even recall a few years back ice skating tickets for Somerset House in London were being touted for daft money! Selling on a ticket should be subject to a maximum (10% ?) of face value. However even buying tickets officially from ticketmaster etc, add on booking fees and other charges, what a joke. P&P PER ticket yet they all go in the same envelope.

  8. Booking fees AKA “cheeky tax” only appeared towards the end of the C20th they are glorified touting. A few years ago I got two Butthole Surfers tickets from Bristol Academy. Several £ over the top included booking fee, handling charge and then a third other payment which, when queried, fell under a category already occupied by booking fee and handling charge. While promoters get up to this shit they cannot take the moral high ground over less ahem “legitimate” touts.

  9. If you buy tickets just to sell them for profit, you’re a c*** and it shouldn’t be allowed, end of story.
    We’re not talking about a car or a toaster here, you’re simply depriving genuine fans obtaining limited opportunities to see their favourite acts.

    Unfortunately, promoters, venues and probably in some cases, even artists are complicit in this practice as it bangs the cost up for next time round.
    If every ticket outlet practices like wegottickets.com, who effectively leave a paid guest list on the door at venues for punters to collect on the door with ID with very little effort, this sort of practice could be wiped out in a heartbeat, the technology is definitely there.

    I’d also like to know what happened to venue box offices?…It’s laughable that news outlets tell you that tickets are on sale for say £20 and there’s nowhere to get them but some skanky agent who charges you to print your own ticket for an extra fiver, but we all give it over without a whine don’t we?

    (This is the reason I don’t go to see any large bands anymore, there’s plenty of small ones who aren’t caught up in this game)

    Anything getting done about any of this is good in my book.

  10. I have to agree with the comment from Tom. Touts are no gentlemen and they will threaten anybody who tries to sell a ticket to another fan. They’re not even providing a service as far as I can see. You’d get rid of that ticket anyway at a popular gig. You’d be lucky to get face value from them for even the most over-sold gig. I’ve found myself holding on to tickets rather than taking their derisory offers. Why should we line their thieving pockets?

    A year or two back I heard an enlightening phone conversation with a tout on a London bus. He had heard about a rumour that Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher were doing a gig at the Koko. Don’t know if this ever happened, but the interesting bit is that he was straight on to Weller’s management or PR and asking if it was happening and how many tickets they could let him have. “As many as you can,” was what he was after.

    And as a little sweetener to the lady he was talking to, he promoised to bike over some Justin Timberlake tickets for her at the O2 that night.

    Having said that, the fan to fan market is even more galling. Is there nothing that can be done to outlaw this?

  11. You’ll never be able to police touting, so long as there is a buyer and a seller. Not nice or right, but true. I sometimes turn up at a venue at 9pm and offer a tout less than face value, did this for a B52s gig a few years ago and got in for a tenner.

  12. If I understand it, the bill is leaning more toward the “official” tout sites where you can buy tickets almost as soon as they go onsale and -instantly- sell out.. you know the ones (not sure if I can name names) but there is one owned by the main worldwide ticket agency… Hmmmmmmm
    I was at a London show and a tout told me never to buy before hand, always on the night if you want a bargain.. He wouldnt however tell me how much he was selling for when he knew I already had a ticket….
    On a lighter note, I always know I’m at a Manchester gig when I see that tout with the strange looking mouth/tongue

  13. As a promoter and a musician these touts are profiting from my work. I put hard work and effort into putting on a good gig. These people do nothing but buy some tickets and then sell them on. They are parasites.

  14. Re-selling sites run by mega ticket agencies like getmein are much worse than Del-boy and his mates and I thoroughly object to not being able to re-sell an expensive ticket I have bought for face value when I have bought it properly. The ticket agencies are cashing in massively. Any big seller of tickets appears to have turned into some scary control freak over the whole thing.

    I’d rather old-fashioned touts continued to exist, which would allow all of us to sell what are, after all, OUR tickets as we wish. Basically, the big agencies/organisers want to get max profit out of every ticket whilst denying us the opportunity to even re-sell at face value! Capitalism with no democracy.

    People also forget that old fashioned touts buy as well as sell, so there is at least some give and take there. I’ve been walking past ticket touts at venues up and down the land for over 20 years and never had any problem, unlike the numerous times I’ve had no choice but to be ripped off in terms of ticket agencies’ booking fees, no re-sale policies and all of that ridiculous recent lottery malarkey for popular tickets involving iris scans and strip searches (well, okay, not quite, but certainly having to take passports, credit cards etc along. God, it’s only a pop concert!)

  15. Touting went mad with the electronic age, as it became too easy for anyone to do without leaving their house, and the online ticket reselling organisations should definitely be banned for pushing prices to crazily inflated levels.

    The old-fashioned touts who spend hours hanging about outside gigs should always continue to have a place. Sure, some of them will try to rip off the gullible, but if you have too many tickets, or not enough, (have already tried asking around your mates and fans in the local pub), and can be patient, it’s usually possible to get a reasonable deal from them. It’s not an easy ‘job’ they do, and it carries a big element of risk, (if the gig doesn’t sell out, then they are out of pocket!!), so it’s fair that they set their buy & sell prices so they can make a bit of a profit.

  16. That said, agree with the comments about venues buying back tickets. Solves the problem in an instant and all fans pay the same price.

  17. i dont see the problem with touting, its simply supply and demand, buy cheap, sell high, its the way of the world. i dont think they should hassle anyone else selling their tickets though, since thats what theyre doing too, if you’ve got a ticket(s) to sell, you should be able to sell them for whatever you like, if people are willing to pay over the odds, you’d be daft not to sell for a profit. its all very nice thinking people will sell for face value, but 99% of people arent “nice” and will see £ signs

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