Canadians are tired of losing concert tickets to scalper bots and want something done about it, according to a new poll.
The poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute finds 80 per cent of Canadians believe that ticket bots should be banned. However, respondents are divided on whose problem it is to fix.
There was an even 50/50 split among respondents as to whether the issue required government intervention, or if it should be left to the likes of Ticketmaster or Live Nation to set controls on purchases for the most in-demand events.
“Regardless of experience, Canadians don’t have a great perception of the re-selling market. Even though relatively few have bought and even fewer have re-sold on the secondary market, they do see the resale industry as one that is part of a huge problem,” said Angus Reid executive director Shachi Kurl.
The issue came to the forefront last spring when many fans came up empty in pursuit of seats to the Tragically Hip’s farewell tour. Live Nation admitted in October that two-thirds of the tickets were claimed by automated brokers before the public had a crack at them.
Some artists have made efforts to get around the bots. Bruce Springsteen, Mumford & Sons and Adele reserved some tickets for ‘paperless entry’ requiring concert-goers to present the purchasing credit card to enter the venue.
Foo Fighters used a much more traditional strategy in its ticket bot defence in 2014, offering fans a chance to get as many as four tickets to its Sonic Highways tour by lining up at the venue before online presales even began.
Ticketmaster took steps to better the fans’ odds to getting tickets to ex-One Direction idol Harry Styles’ 2017 summer tour, by instituting the #VerifiedFan procedure. The system required fans to register for a crack at tickets. While some fans were still shut out, prompting Ticketmaster to write an open letter to angry fans, the brokers reported that 95 per cent of the tickets went to fans based on the smaller-than-usual resale market.
According to the data released by Angus Reid, only 23 per cent of respondents said they had used a secondary market such as StubHub to purchase tickets. Nearly half the respondents said they attend two live events or fewer per year, with an additional 27 per cent stating they never purchase tickets.
Despite a research base that under-represents the most active Canadian concert-goers, Kurl thinks the perception of a tilted playing field is enough to cause problems for the ticket vendor services.
“Even if those perceptions are not based on experience, it’s important to note that perception can become reality,” Kurl said. “The ticket-selling industry, while they may be able to say ‘the people that we know are using it - our customer base - is not totally unhappy,’ what matters is the perceptions particularly in light of the legislation that’s been tabled in Ontario… is the perception of the general public, because that’s what [the ticket sellers] are dealing with and that’s what the government is dealing with.”
Ontario’s proposed Ticket Speculation Amendment Act suggests fines of up to $50,000 and possible prison time for individuals found in violation, and up to $250,000 for corporations.
Meanwhile, there was a higher instance of those who had used resale services among millennials (33 per cent) than there was among the 55-and-olders (12 per cent). Sentiment to require proof of purchase for entry or invalidate tickets acquired through the resale market was also slightly higher among the 55 and older bracket than it was from the 18-34 respondents.
Despite the generational divide in willingness to accept the secondary market, Kurl sees a unified front in terms of addressing the issue.
“Not surprisingly, younger people are more likely to have used [resale markets] than boomers and older generations. That said, when I see opinion levels at three-quarters saying that this is a major problem and four-fifths saying that they would support a ban … that says to me that there is widespread concern over the issue of ticket resales across the board, no matter how old people are,” Kurl said.