After a tumultuous few years for the live music industry, demand for gig and festival tickets appears to be at an all-time high. This year’s Glastonbury sold out as quickly as ever, despite a not inconsiderable price increase. Madonna was forced to turn one-night at London’s O2 Arena into six. The clamour for tickets to Taylor Swift’s US stadium tour was so enormous that it has forced a national debate on the nature of ticketing there, one that even President Biden has weighed in on.
And it’s difficult not to conclude that, whilst there might never have been a more exciting time to be a music fan, there might also never have been a trickier time to be a music fan. Prices have jumped, especially for the biggest shows. Actually getting hold of tickets has become a more stressful experience than ever, with sweaty palms and countless browser windows the only certainties at 10am on a Friday morning. And, perhaps most worrying of all, scamming appears to be more prevalent than ever, with fraudulent ticket sales on the rise. It is the kind of crisis that demands a response led by music fans. New platforms like TicketSwap look like holding the key; a safe and easy ticket resale app that allows tickets to be resold directly from fan to fan, with peace of mind for both parties.
Scamming on the rise
Last summer’s sharp rise in scamming saw, according to Lloyds Bank, a 600% increase in fans reporting rip-offs, compared to the first three months of 2022. Fittingly, TicketSwap, an ethical ticket resale platform, actually arose in response to the kind of scam that fans are increasingly being targeted by; the company’s Dutch founder, Hans Ober, was looking to sell his ticket for one of the country’s biggest festivals, Lowlands, when he was no longer able to attend.
He found a prospective buyer, but there was a hitch; she was, understandably, nervous about the ticket’s legitimacy. She wanted to speak to Ober in person, to be sure he wasn’t a scammer. After a brief meeting, she went away happy with the ticket, and he was convinced that a new platform was necessary, one that would allow fans to buy resale tickets quickly, fairly and with total confidence. From that idea, TicketSwap was born in 2012, and now has more than 10 million users across 36 countries, connecting music fans, locking out the touts and scalpers, and allowing for safe purchases in just a few quick taps.
It’s a solution that’s arrived at a crucial time, with TicketSwap launching in the UK last November. According to a report in The Telegraph in June last year, the first post-COVID festival summer saw what Lloyds called an “explosion” of fraudulent sales of fake festival tickets to fans eager to enjoy the first restriction-free summer since 2019. Scammed customers, they said, were losing an average of £251 each buying fake tickets online, lured by sophisticated advertising and the pull of a long-awaited return to the festival fields.
The muddying of the waters around ticket resale will only have aggravated the situation, with secondary ticketing sites increasingly replaced by the major primary ticketing outlets utilising Uber-style dynamic pricing, offering tickets at a markup of many times the face value, and making it increasingly difficult for fans to decide what is and is not a legitimate point of ticket sale. According to TicketSwap’s own research, in a survey carried out in the UK in January, 69% of respondents found the concept of dynamic pricing confusing.
Connecting fans with fans would appear to be integral to removing the scammer from the equation; after all, live music is all about community. January’s research showed that 70% of respondents would no longer consider buying resale tickets, such is the risk of being scammed. The message is loud and clear; the gig-going community is crying out for a platform that would restore peace of mind; TicketSwap prevents fraud through user-checks and via partnerships with event organisers, which include LWE in the UK, Dekmantel in the Netherlands, Sziget in Hungary, Les Eurockéennes de Belfort in France and many more.
‘Dynamic’ pricing – or just plain extortion?
Pricing, meanwhile, is a bigger issue than ever, especially with the face value of tickets for the biggest shows spiralling to all-time highs; in a stark indicator of the financial squeeze being applied to fans, only last month, the Bruce Springsteen fanzine Backstreets, which has been published for 43 years, announced that it will not continue, blaming the disaffection of many of his die-hard fans with ticket costs for his latest tour.
When the price is high enough to begin with and with many countries in the grip of a cost of living crisis, it’s more important than ever to keep resale prices fair. This is why TicketSwap cap the markup on resold tickets at 20% in the UK, meaning, for example, that a £10 ticket can be sold on for no more than £12 (the cap differs by country, in line with local law).
This allows for sellers to recoup increasingly exorbitant booking fees, but removes the profit incentive that drives the more unscrupulous side of the secondary ticketing market. This is vital with the advent of dynamic pricing, which is something that according to January’s survey, Britain believes to be unfair – with 60% of respondents, once dynamic pricing was explained to them, deeming it unjust. Only 3.6% agreed with the concept.
The minefield of modern ticketing is not just something that poses a rising financial cost to music lovers; feeling the need to vet every secondary ticket seller is something that is time-consuming and anxiety-inducing, for fans simply looking to see their favourite artist. TicketSwap arrives in the UK, then, at just the right time, and now offers a fully-fledged ticketing app, allowing for artist tracking and Spotify integration. As its presence continues to expand ahead of what promises to be an epic 2023 festival season, TicketSwap’s ethical marketplace is leading the charge against scammers on behalf of music fans everywhere – meaning less fraud and more fun.
You can buy and sell tickets to gigs, festivals, club-nights, theatre and more by downloading TicketSwap on the App Store or by visiting TicketSwap.uk