This Christmas time, spare a thought for those behind the scenes of the music industry. If you want to see your favourites live, they’ll see that you get there.
For a price of course – I refer to the ticket touts. Which sounds a bit pejorative. Let’s try “classic entrepreneurs” as that’s what former Culture Secretary Sajid Javid called them. A man who instead of Debbie Harry probably had a picture of Margaret Thatcher above his bed, fortunately he’s since moved on from that post.
Ah yes, the poor touts, also known as scalpers, or ‘secondary resellers’. Their income could be hit so hard that they may have to put off getting those new knuckledusters until next Christmas. Things have got so miserable for the touts that Adele considered writing an album about them.
However, a minuscule change to the law means that a resold ticket must have its seat number marked. Which is fine for those genteel sit-down shows – as Noel Gallagher put it, Adele does make “music for grannies”.
Instead, the cockeneree superstar has gone to the other extreme and decided, on behalf of her fans, to wage war on this great British institution. You see, the multi-million-selling songstress has been riled. “You mess with my faaamily, you mess with me”, she said in those dulcet tones redolent of Barbara Windsor in Eastenders (I’m paraphrasing a little here) before adding “Gerroutta my pub”.
Because, tickets for her upcoming stadium tour have been exchanging hands for as much as £95. Sorry, as LITTLE as £95.
Say what you like, and I may be in a minority of 1 here judging by album sales, but the caterwauling songstress has her heart in the right place. Teaming up with ticketing website Songkick, she’s saved fans £4M by taking back 36,000 tickets, IDing 18,000 touts in the process. Half a million people registered on her website to avoid paying £1200 (ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED POUNDS) to get in.
Of course, battling touts is nothing new, it’s just gone a bit hi-tech. Traditionally it’s a Cockney or Scouse geezer hanging around outside the a venue muttering: “Any tickets mate?” and terrorising anyone trying to shift a face value brief for a sick friend. Of course, back in the day tix were bought in bulk at the box office, where you’d maybe send along your granny working in the city while you were at school. They’d come back with Bay City Rollers rather than Sham 69 owing to senility, but the thought was there. You’d be allowed a maximum of 6, and for the really big-name shows queues would develop overnight, with a kind of blitz spirit and camaraderie developing between the fans who’d huddle together for warmth and swap soup and Special Brew .
Nowadays, the biggest purchasers are ‘bots’ – automatic computer programs which snap up tickets in their thousands. Actually, that’s not strictly true. Tickets sometimes don’t even make it that far, as Prince and Rod Stewart found out when tickets were with a ‘secondary reseller’ even before ‘presale’. What the layman might call an ‘inside job’ given that the ‘official’ and ‘resale’ sites are part of the same gang – sorry, ‘company’.
So – and this isn’t easy to say – let’s applaud Adele. There are many questions to answer – how slow will entry to the shows be if ID is being checked? What if you have a genuine reason for reselling? Will my personal details be visible to the entire internet (as happened briefly)? But these are minor quibbles. If it means that the touts end up on the streets just like the homeless guys you see begging outside the nation’s venues, then that will be a fitting demise. Although, sadly, the real criminals will be safely ensconced in their city offices, running their bots and counting their shares…
The Leaf Library
(Where It’s At Is)
Time flies. It seems like only yesterday a band called Saloon were number 1 in the John Peel Festive 50. 2001, it turns out. But one of the band, Matt Ashton, has re-emerged with this London-based quartet, who don’t stray too far from the indie-pop blueprint so beloved of the DJ and his listeners. Jangling guitars, hushed vocals and folkish tunes are all key elements here but mainly it’s a languid, shoegazey feel, a dozen songs that wash over the listener. That’s not to say it’s dull, in the same way Yo La Tengo or Quickspace envelop and charm by mixing solid tunes with chilled immersive sounds. One to listen to on repeat. HHHH