She famously took on the touts, banning thousands of them from buying tickets, but as she prepares to kick off her long-awaited UK tour on Monday, Adele may have to concede she has not yet won the war.
The four main ticket resale websites are offering seats for her 20 UK arena dates for more than 290 times their face value. Fans wanting tickets for the sold-out London O2 concerts are being asked on Get Me In – the resale arm of Ticketmaster – to hand over as much as £24,840 for a seat with a face value of £85. That figure includes a cut taken by Get Me In. Rival resale website StubHub is offering seats for Adele’s eight London shows for up to £23,600 each, including fees.
Fans of Adele – who won four Brit awards last week – aren’t the only ones left frustrated by ticket touts. On Friday, hundreds of followers of the indie group Catfish and the Bottlemen, who won the Brit for best British breakthrough act, voiced their anger on Twitter. Tickets for the band’s tour sold out instantly – only to appear minutes later at vastly inflated prices on ticket resale websites. The Observer found examples of tickets for the band’s shows, which originally cost around £27.50, being resold for as much as £328.90 hours later on the website Get Me In.
The band’s management company said: “We watched the presale and the general sale for the Catfish and the Bottlemen April tour dates very closely. The demand for tickets was truly exceptional, however we were really disturbed to see a very large proportion of the total tickets available in the pre-sale appearing for sale within minutes on secondary ticket sites priced at up to five times their face value.
“There is no way this is down to genuine fans attempting to resell unwanted tickets, but rather organised touts, automated large-scale ticket purchase programmes, or worse, tickets never reaching the primary market in the first place.
“Artists’ pre-sales are intended to reward a band’s most loyal fans with an early opportunity to buy tickets, not for professional touts to profit. We will be taking what further steps we can to prevent this for future Catfish and the Bottlemen shows, but this is a problem on an industry-wide scale and it requires an industry-wide solution.”
“We must make it clear that these secondary ticketing companies are not providing a service to fans but are systematically ripping them off.”
Lauren Paton, 19, a student in Fife, was unable to get tickets through either a pre-sale on Wednesday – which was made available to fans through the band’s newsletter – or through the main sale on Friday. She claims that at 10am no tickets for the Glasgow show appeared on Ticketweb, one of the outlets purportedly selling them, and that those she got for Doncaster became “sold out” as she was still entering her details. “Something definitely needs to be done – it’s not fair,” she said. “Most of these people buying tickets are probably just buying to sell on for three times as much.”
Rachael Dowd, 21, a student based at the University of Westminster, was online waiting for the sale of the Catfish and the Bottlemen tickets at 10am on Friday only to find the shows had sold out. “Ticket touting has been going on for so long, but I feel like lately it’s just gotten so out of hand,” she said. “It takes the excitement out of going to a live show because it’s so hard to get tickets. It’s just really unfair to the fans who actually want to go to these shows.”
Adele – who scooped four Brits at last week’s ceremony – is one of a number of high-profile stars who have attacked the ticket resale “rip-off” and demanded the government clamp down on the activities of secondary market ticket websites. Others who have waded into the row include Sir Elton John, Prince, Mumford & Sons and Coldplay.
So keen was Adele to ensure that fans were not fleeced by profiteers that her management teamed up with a British company called Songkick to identify and exclude more than 18,000 “known or likely touts” from the ticket-buying process for the singer’s tour. This begins at the SSE Arena in Belfast on Monday before visiting Manchester, London, Glasgow and Birmingham. Fans had to pre-register, and the touts – most of them based in the UK and Europe – were eliminated from the process before they even had a chance to buy tickets. On top of that, Adele’s website carries a prominent warning that “resale of tickets … will not be accepted – you risk having them cancelled and being denied entry to the show”.
The only company given permission to facilitate resales of Adele tickets is Twickets, an online fan-to-fan exchange where the price is never more than the original face value.
Despite that, there were plenty of tickets available last week at hugely inflated prices on Get Me In, StubHub and the other two big players in this market, Seatwave (also owned by Ticketmaster) and Viagogo.
A spokesman for Ticketmaster said: “Ticketing marketplaces react to demand and the willingness of fans to pay. With high-profile events, such as Adele, tickets are sometimes listed at prices higher than the face value. Tickets very rarely sell at these elevated prices though, with many selling at face value or below the original price.”
Seatwave alone was listing more than 2,700 seats for sale for the UK dates, while Get Me In was listing more than 2,800 - though of course some tickets will be listed on more than one website. Viagogo said that demand for tickets rose by 163% following her performance at the Brit Awards.
Seatwave had seats at the London shows for sale for up to £4,999 each, though Get Me In topped the price league with its four tickets for the 21 March show available for £22,000 each, excluding fees.A family of four buying those seats would pay £88,000, plus a £4,040 “processing and administration charge”, to give a total of £92,040.22. For that price one might at least expect to be sitting in the best seats in the house (or perhaps even up on the stage) but these are “nosebleed seats” in row R of the O2’s upper tier.
The Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on ticket abuse, told the Observer: “It is dismaying to find that tickets to Adele’s hotly anticipated tour are now being resold at significantly marked-up prices on secondary ticketing platforms. While artists and their management can have all the best intentions in mind to end the profiteering by ticket touts on their events, what we need is the legislation in place that supports artists in doing this.”
Last October the government launched a review of how the secondary ticket market was working and whether consumers were sufficiently protected by new rules introduced last year to make it easier to identify touts. The review panel, chaired by Prof Michael Waterson, is due to report by late May.
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