Photo: Ollie Millington/Redferns
Building A Safer Music Marketplace: Concert Ticketing Issues Bubble Up In D.C.
For music fans, the ultimate experience is seeing their favorite artists live in concert, and many will stop at nothing to get their hands on tickets. Unfortunately, this haste and fervor often overshadows questionable ticket fees at the online box office, and, worse still, enables unscrupulous secondary sales practices by ticket scalpers and re-sellers.
But fortunately, change is in the works. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently held a full-day workshop on event tickets to address the challenges fans face in the live concert ticket marketplace. While it's definitely good news to hear these issues being discussed more openly by all parties, and while it's clear that the process of outlining a comprehensive plan to fix them is not a simple one, there are two pieces of legislation hoping to do move us closer to a safer system for everyone.
— FTC (@FTC) June 12, 2019
Two years ago, the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, backed by the Recording Academy and enforced by the FTC, was passed into law, designed to stop the devastating impact of ticket "bots" on music fans, performers, and the live music industry. The law speaks directly to the artist-fan relationship the live music industry strives to cultivate nurture.
"The relationship that forms when an artist connects to a fan through his or her music is at the core of what makes music special," said Daryl Friedman, Recording Academy Chief Industry, Government and Member Relations Officer. "Artists try to keep their tickets affordable for their fans, but scalpers move in and drive up the price by using automated ticket 'bots' to make it harder for fans to buy tickets to see their favorite artist perform live."
— GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) September 13, 2016
The BOTS Act enables artists to control how they sell tickets to their shows, a crucial factor in maintaining the connection Friedman describes, giving the FTC the legislative firepower it needs to keep the marketplace safe from ticket "bots."
In addition, last week a group of lawmakers reintroduced the Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing (BOSS Act) to increase transparency of the primary and secondary concert ticket marketplace and provide new consumer protections. The BOSS Act hopes to join the BOTS Act in the fight to keep the invaluable artist-fan connection alive and fair for all. However, any new effort to bring fairness to the ticket marketplace must be careful not to limit the freedom of artists to offer tickets in the way that best serves and protects their fans.
“Even though it’s 2019, the $9 Billion live events ticket market resembles the Wild West: bereft of regulation and order, with bad actors around too many corners making a living by ripping people off,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), one of the lead sponsors behind the bill's reintroduction. While these realities are harsh for concertgoers, the FTC workshop and reintroduction of the BOSS Act mark two encouraging signs there is renewed interest in solving ticketing issues in Washington.
As lawmakers weigh the many factors at play in fixing a broken live events ticket marketplace, it is important to remember and protect what makes live music events work: the artist's connection with the fan. Artists enjoy the right to control how they sell their tickets and fans deserve transparency and protection when spending their hard-earned money to support the artists they love, so the special relationship between artists and fans stays strong.