According to a new report released by Lloyds Banking Group PLC, scams for Festival and Gigs tickets has risen by 529% with the average victim losing £110. Popular artists such as Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi and Coldplay have had their fans scammed with Reading Festival being the most scammed festival.
There was an increase in ticket scams for comedy and theatre events but it wasn’t as high according to the report which was conducted from February 2022 to February 2023. Most of the events were sold out but scammers still found a way to entice desperate fans into their dirty trap. Fake websites, social media posts and emails were the main gateways to this awful scheme. Sadly scammers are not just targeting big events and artists, they are doing it to the emerging scene too.
Big Ticket Retailers Could Be to Blame
Since the dawn of gig ticket time, there has been arguments about how much should be charged for tickets, how much venues or websites can add for fees and processing costs, then postage and all that exciting stuff. Ticketmaster has been in a lot of hot water recently with a few issues (well more than a few). This included the over selling of tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras US tour and the astronomical prices that tickets were being sold at back in November 2022. Swifties (Taylor Swift’s fanbase) took their complaints all the way to the US Senate Judiciary Committee which scrutinised both Live Nation and Ticketmaster who merged together in 2010, effectively ruling out any competition.
Read more about what happened at this hearing by reading the New York Times article.
Just before the Swifties scenario in the US, Ticketmaster was being called out by music fans in October for its new ticket pricing system (which has been used in the US for a lot longer) which works in a similar way to Airlines and Hotels. Called “Dynamic Pricing” ticket prices are set by the artists and promoters but will then vary on price due to popular demand. Therefore Ticketmaster do not give a General Price as it will instantly fluctuate which in most cases outprices many fans who can’t see their favourite artists. An example would be Harry Styles gig at Slane Castle originally €97 but due to demand went up to €195! Double it’s face value.
When asked about the Dynamic Pricing system by the BBC, Ticketmaster said it was “an important shift necessary to maintaining the vibrancy and creativity of the live music industry.” Personally I find that a crock of bull. If anything is has had the reverse effect.
Back in 2018, Ed Sheeran cancelled 10,000 tickets that were being resold so that fans were not being scammed or charged inflated prices. The Artic Monkeys have gone down a similar route for their 2023 tour and of course Robert Smith of The Cure took on the ticket giants after their US tickets sales were seriously inflated. Personally my favourite was seeing Bruce Springsteen tickets reselling for a whopping $5,000!
Fans are Getting Sick of It
Since the big ticket giants are holding fans at ransom, you would have thought that the scammers would just be out for the big names? Sadly not.
I have seen on social media so many smaller, independent festivals suffering the same sick degrading of their reputation because of false tickets. As always you will get people who are unable to attend events so they might have to sell their tickets. Resale sites can add insane amount of extra fees and many have a rule of selling the tickets at face value or higher with no option to sell for less for a quicker sale.
Most of the “resale” tickets for smaller events I have seen, have mostly been on fan pages of the particular artist or event. But as always if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Then again, fans are being outpriced so what are they are they meant to do?
According to a YouGov report in December 2022 over half of Britons have found themselves priced of attending live events with a staggering 77% believing its too expensive to see live music with a further 44% saying it’s very expensive. I probably do fall into that category but at the same time, there is so many smaller events up and down the UK that are greatly priced to experience live music.
Of course at smaller events you won’t have the BIG NAME headliners but on the gigging circuit here in the UK you can find iTunes charters playing to thousands of people to a few hundred people and put on an amazing show. Smaller festivals and gigs gives people the chance to experience live music of the next great thing to hit the scene. Remember, Metallica, Bon Jovi, Guns n Roses, Def Leppard all started out somewhere, they did not instantly play Wembley, they started out on the circuit and playing to one man and his Whippet in the social club (or a dive bar).
If you like a genre, you’ll find a gig or smaller festival for it! You could be sat with your mates in 20 years to come and say, “Yeah I saw them in a field playing to 30 people and now look at them.” The same way many people talk about watching Kate Bush, The Rolling Stones, Whitesnake etc back in the day to the “youth” of today.
How Do You Prevent Being Scammed
Lloyds gave some obvious points on how to prevent being scammed. The biggest prevention is to pay using a Debit or Credit Card as you are covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and use a trusted platform such as Ticketmaster or Live Nation (as much as they are/can be scammers themselves) you are guaranteed a ticket of some description whether it is digital or paper. Also check out Gigantic for big and smaller gigs and festivals. Another fail safe way is to purchase (if possible) from the event or band’s website. A lot of smaller independent bands sell tickets for gigs on their websites or have links to approved retail sites.
A lot of people have been caught out by paying via Bank Transfers which doesn’t hold the same protection as paying with Debit/Credit card. It is the digital equivalent of giving a random guy on the street cash and he’ll meet you in an hour with the “merchandise”, who never shows up. Paypal also gives protection when making purchases online.
If tickets for a sold out event become “available” at a ridiculous low price after they have just gone on sale, hold suspicion in your mind because if it is too good to be true, it usually is.
What are Fans and Sellers to Do
Follow the steps above when purchasing tickets but there doesn’t seem to be a clear end in sight to this ever evolving issue.
Viagogo fell under suspicion of selling non-existent tickets a few years ago and received fines from America, Australia and Italy (to name a few) for selling illegal tickets and many other things, therefore big names cannot always be trusted. The merging of Live Nation and Ticketmaster has routed out competition and with bands constantly using these big names to sell their tickets, what else are consumers to do?
Before long consumers will no longer be able to afford or enjoy live music because of greed by big corporate companies. They may claim they only make money on the processing fees, booking fees etc but they have contracts with PR companies and bands across the board.
More investment and fairness needs to be brought to the table and scammers need to be given harsher punishments. The fans, bands, promoters etc all need to be given fair treatment and maybe consumers need to be looking at not just the big name events such as Download, Leeds, Reading and look at Call of the Wild, Springfest, Firevolt, Nozfest, just to name a few that are happening across the summer. Great entertainment, great music, great times!
Have you ever been scammed? What do you think should be done to prevent such things? Leave a comment below!