We must stand up to shameless profiteering in music


By Rory McInnes-Gibbons

£5,900. A mere ninety one times the face value of tonight’s ticket. For whoever had the ‘Golden Ticket’, there is only one question: was it worth it? Normally, I ally myself to the ‘gotta be there’ crew and will find myself paying above board prices for a performance. After all, what price an experience? But, in the dark dungeons of the night-time, the fan-in-question was wrong. They will admit to their own idiocy. In the past, I’ve been the idiot. Stupidity is relative.

My moral dilemma. ‘Should I sell or should I go?’ The girlfriend, best mate and mother all screamed “SELL!” The catcalls of capitalism. But the trains were booked and Radiohead rock. Nonetheless, I suppose I could have funded most of my master’s on the re-sale value of the ticket through online sharks like Viagogo, GetMeIn or Stubhub. Sites like these are the new bane that haunt today’s theatre-goers, gig-goers, sports’ plebs and anybody else willing to attend a live event today. Money talks. People are profiteering us out of the opportunity to enjoy ourselves.

Admittedly, I’ve bought a ticket or two off online sites. Queens of the Stone Age cost me twice the original price and a moment’s madness saw me buy two tickets for Ireland vs Wales at this year’s six nations at roughly 270% of their €80 original value. I have even sold a couple of Dylan tickets for a date I could no longer make, cutting my losses and selling them a little under price. Because I’m not profiteering scum looking to skim a profit out of genuine fans. If a couple want my Dylan tickets, so be it. They are not going to pay an astronomical fee. I have some respect for them and others like them. Like me, for instance.

However, others do not. Take my quasi-Thatcherite brother. He was wonderful, registering early as a season ticket holder at Gloucester Rugby, and buying me and him tickets for the Wales vs Fiji World Cup match. Only, at checkout, he saw opportunity. It knocked. So he bought more. Trying to sell one last ticket on the day, he was caught short. An hour before kick-off we were left traipsing the Holiday Inn in Cardiff where the ticket was to be collected. Upping the price online at the last, he found no takers at more than twice its face value. As a result, while the anthems rang out in the background, we were running around Chip Street and the bars of Delilah seeking a Cardiff ticket tout. In the end, he just about recovered the fifty quid of the ticket. He spent the first half huffing about the hundred quid he’s just let go. But lesson learned, maybe.

My brother is not a cockney twat of a ticket tout (inexplicably, all touts have a cockney accent, wherever they are, though the dialect is in fact endangered). But this needs to stop. People like my brother are the tip of the iceberg of a malaise that is deep set in society. His action begets a trend. Take the buyer of a hundred quid ticket for a sold-out Wembley gig. “Oooh shit”, thinks the fan in hindsight, “why didn’t I buy more and sell them on for triple, quadruple or ninety one (!) times the original price?” Why didn’t you? Because you were so bloody happy to be lucky enough to get one yourself. Think about that for a minute. The innocent girl or guy you are mincing for money might have been one behind you in the online queue. Unlucky. Now you are laughing dollar signs in their face as they sit beside you at the same Elton John gig.

No band on earth is worth almost £6,000. Think of what you would do with that money. Now I know who you are. If you said, invest it in Radiohead stocks, let’s have a Radiohead IPO, you are delusional. If you said, invest it in Radiohead tickets, you are stupid. The stigma of shame moves itself with stealth. The value goes elsewhere. These tickets were not merely expensive because of Radiohead. They were Radiohead: live; at a small venue; with a limited set of tour dates; for the first time in nearly five years. Their only UK dates announced so far. There you have it. That’s why £65 became £6,000. I remember a mate saying that the £65 was extortionate. I agreed (although, secretly, I had already bought my ticket). He was just jealous. I think we can both laugh now.

I’d like to move on at this point. Radiohead were sublime. But I can’t. The behaviour of security, also annoyed me. They were asking people in the entry queue to provide photographic ID that matched the name on the ticket. That’s absurd. Say I buy a ticket for my girlfriend’s birthday present. She doesn’t have my ID. Do you refuse her entry? As for the purchaser of the ‘Golden Ticket’, surely it is too late in the food chain to deny entry to someone who has paid £5,900 to get to the gig. It’s not his/her fault that they seem to lack the intellectual capacity to appreciate their own idiocy. Too late in the chain to deny the sharks their lucrative catch.

The jaws of capitalism are already clenched tight at this stage. There is only one way to unlock them and free ourselves from their next feeding frenzy. Outlaw the online resale sites. Ok, eBay might be hard to remove, but let’s rid ourselves of these consumer orientated sites that claim the moral high ground as the only route to get a ticket once the event is officially sold out. They don’t care about you getting in to see Simply Red, Adele or Backstreet Boys. They only care about their extortionate, exorbitant, outrageous commission and service charges. It is not a scam, but a snare.

First, I need to hold a mirror to myself. If, in the dark December days of a Friday morning, I fail to get a ticket for The Smiths reunion or the Rolling Stones’ funeral procession, I might just have to accept fate. It is people, like you, me and the chap over there in the corner, who need to stop driving this awful industry. The only way is to deny demand. So let it go people, turn your speakers up and accept that sometimes, you can’t always get what you want. But, if the question should ever arise: ‘Should I sell or should I go?’ You go, girl.

Illustration: Wikipedia via Creative Commons

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