Archive for September, 2006

Kill All Touts, part 2

So we’re not particularly pleased with eBay’s policy towards ticket auctions here at Indie Cred, even if, I admit, we’ve bought tickets that way in the past. We’ve never spent much more than the ticket price though. The Ledge did, on one occasion, sell a pair of Arcade Fire tickets that we could not use (as the Pixies announced a tour date the same night). The intention though was to take the money from the auction of our pair and use it to buy tickets to the Sheffield gig, which we did not manage to do in the end. But not for lack of trying. If we’d known about Scarlet Mist at the time, we’d have done it that way and tried to arrange a swap.

But I digress.

I have another story.

This is the story of the man known to someone I know, who walked into his office last Friday afternoon and began bragging about how he’d bought four Killers tickets and had placed two of them straight onto eBay and the bidding was already at over £200. This is the story of the fan who thinks it’s cool and acceptable to rip off other fans. Now, surely being a fan of a band makes you part of a larger community. It means that you share something in common with others, something that ties you together, because, face it, music is important to us in our lives, we get very emotional about it. We should understand that others with the same passion feel the same emotion. We should understand that the elation we feel when our favourite band tours or releases a record is the same elation other fans feel. We should understand that the abject disappointment and misery we would feel if we failed to get tickets to a gig is the same that other fans feel. And we should understand that if we did not get tickets to see our favourite band and went on an internet auction site and found other fans trying to fleece us we’d probably become homicidal.

Why do fans take advantage of other fans?

A very nice woman on a forum when I brought this up told me that she always buys extra tickets for popular gigs if she manages to get through and get any tickets. She can then offer these to fans on the band’s forum at face value so that people who were unlucky have a chance to get the tickets they missed out on without having to pay over the odds to a tout. To me, this is how music fans should behave. They should treat each other with the care and kindness and respect they want themselves.

Fandom is not a competition, it’s a shared experience.

So a word of warning to all you “fans” out there who wish to take advantage of other fans. When the revolution happens, you’ll be the first ones with your backs against the wall.

Posted by JustHipper on 19th September 2006 at 8:12 pm | comments (6)
File under Rant.

Kill All Touts

Now, I’m sure that is not a controvertial sentiment I’ve just expressed there. We’ve all been there: wanted tickets to a gig, tickets sold out and the only way to get them was by paying over the odds to a tout. The thing is, back in the old days, the touts bought up some tickets, not like, say, half via the internet cause they had to queue up all night just like the rest of us, and then they hawked them outside the gig on the night. These days, they can spam the system of every ticket website going, keep the real fans out and buy up hundreds of tickets which they can quite easily sell on via eBay. Seriously, it’s just gotten out of control.

I’m going to tell you all a little story.

On Friday, the Killers put tickets on sale for their November tour. Most of these dates are in pretty small venues – Nottingham Rock City and Manchester Apollo being two that spring to mind. Now, I realise the Killers suck live. In fact, most of the people reading this will say that the Killers suck full stop. But my friend, Bricking Chick, loves them. We used their debut album to keep us awake on the overnight drive home from T in the Park, screaming along off-key to ‘Mr. Brightside’ and ‘All The Things I’ve Done’. She was desperate to see them live. So desperate, she was in the office early on Friday morning and on her mobile and the internet on four different websites trying to get one single pair of tickets. There was not a ticket website that was working. All the phone lines were busy. The gigs all sold out in under five minutes. Now, I find that amazing since all the ticket websites were not working, but there you go. The mysteries of the internet. She was gutted.

I pointed out that very often a couple of hours after this happens they get all the tickets for rejected credit cards back and put them back on sale. A person from Piccadilly Box Office confirmed this. So about 11am she was back on the computer and phone ringing around and trying to get some re-released tickets. None came up, to our knowledge. This was the point at which she got very curious and went on eBay. eBay already, before noon the day the tickets went on sale, had nearly 100 pairs of Killers tickets listed. All of these were already priced in the hundreds. By 2pm there were nearly 400 listings. This was hours after the tickets went on sale. Imagine how many pairs will be sold between now and November? Think hard. So, we’re talking a hefty percentage of the tickets for a very small tour. Now somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but is it not against the law to sell tickets on at more than their face value?

Now Bricking Chick is a clever woman. She phoned up See Tickets and asked what they do about these things. She was told that if they know the ticket numbers, they cancel the orders. She was also told that they make bids on the tickets themselves to stop the touts getting away with it. Large bids. Bricking Chick made a couple of very large bids too. £1,000,000 I believe. For one set she was outbid and lost. She won the other at £790,000. She’s asked the tout selling them for the ticket numbers and order reference so she can check there’s actual tickets involved before she transfers the funds…can anyone see where this is going?

Now I, for my part, attempted to contact eBay customer service about this issue. First I found to report Event Tickets you could do no more than submit up to 10 item numbers. Well, that won’t take long then, 400 items at 10 items an email, most on 24-hour auctions, yeah I’m sure it will be worth the 2 or 3 hours it would take me. I submitted 10 items. Then I went through a different form. It still wanted an item number. You can’t just email a general question, see. I listed one item number and sent the following note:

Message: This item number is one example of a serious problem. I did this: http://search.ebay.co.uk/search/search.dll?from=R40&satitle=killers+tickets after my friend failed to get tickets LEGALLY for the Killers. There are nearly 400 people selling tickets above face value ILLEGALLY on your site. Why are you encouraging and allowing touts to rip off fans? Why do you let it carry on? This is unethical and cruel and surely not the corporate image of your brand you want to convey and you want bloggers to be publicising? Get these down now. Stop making the touting problem worse. Thank you.

I received the following reply:

Thank you for your report of item number 180028703931, the two tickets
for The Killers, which you feel is in violation of our site policies.

We review all items that are reported to us and a determination is made
on whether the item is in violation of our policies. When a violation
has been committed we will take the appropriate action for that item.

There will be times when offenders will slip by because they have not
been reported to us. Please note that even if some sellers are currently
in violation of eBay guidelines this does not lessen the seriousness of
the violations for those sellers whose auctions have been reported to
us.

I will look into the item you have reported to us as quickly as
possible. eBay’s Community Watch team reviews all user reports of items,
normally within 24 -36 hours.

So, you see, they don’t monitor everything. They can’t. But here’s the rub. If it is against their policy and against the law for tickets to be sold over the ticket price, why are they allowed on as auctions at all? Surely that is asking for a whole heap of trouble. Why are they not allowed only as “Buy it Now” items listed at face value? Or simply not at all. This would solve a lot of problems. It would keep eBay from being complicit in allowing fans to get ripped off by dickheads and criminals looking to take advantage of people’s emotional connection to the music they love. It’s easy to say “Don’t buy them” to people, but if it’s your favourite band ever, and you can afford it, sort of…. I have my limits, but if, say, Morrissey did a farewell tour before retiring and I knew I may never get to see him again, those limits would bloody well go out the window I assure you! But at least if touts were discouraged from buying because they couldn’t make any money then more fans would get tickets. And fans needing to sell tickets on for whatever reason could use Scarlet Mist to sell them on at face value to other fans.

I guess my point is, why can’t this be monitored? I know there’s been a lot in the news recently and it’s being looked into, but why won’t sites like eBay make it a policy of simply not allowing ticket auctions? That would solve a lot of the problems. Why can’t ticket agencies make like Glastonbury and print names on tickets and require photo I.D. for popular gigs? This would solve a lot of the problems.

I guess what I’m saying is, if the bands and the ticket agencies and the corporate satan that is eBay actually had a heart about what music fans go through trying to get tickets for popular shows, surely something could be enacted pretty much immediately that would solve the problem?

Posted by JustHipper on 17th September 2006 at 2:13 pm | comments (20)
File under Rant.

Gig Review: Voxtrot at the Night & Day, 18th August 2006

Voxtrot at the Night & DayVoxtrot‘s set at the Night & Day a couple of weeks ago was scandalously short. They were billed as headliners and didn’t get on stage until after midnight but were allowed less than half an hour and got in just six songs. I was great while it lasted, though. Starting out with the brilliant “Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives” from the EP of the same name they played an exhuberent set that showcased their marvellous indie pop craft and showed just why those bloggers over the pond are raving about them so much. Singer Ramesh Srivastava spent the entire gig bouncing up and down, even when he was sat down playing the keyboards, and standout track “The Start Of Something” went down a treat with the small crowd, which was no surprise given its similarities to “This Charming Man”. A Texan band that sounds like The Smiths? Can’t be bad.

Kicking off the evening were local band The Silent Parade whose attempts at anthemic commercial indie rock were desparately trying to fit in somewhere between Snow Patrol and Embrace but they were duller than both of those bands put together, each song sounding suspiciously like the last with no let up in the over-earnest choruses and monotonous guitar work. Even when they tried to add a little variety on the last two songs, starting slow, allowing some space between the instruments, the volume quickly grew and the anthemic wailing crashed in exactly when you were expecting it to.

Fortunately The Silent Parade’s leaden dirge bore absolutely no comparison to The Needles‘ sprightly intelligent pop. We’d never heard of this Aberdeen four piece before but they were excellent, the sheer variety of their sound and the brilliant guitar work of the lead singer putting the first band to shame. Their influences, like many young bands around today, draw heavily on the late 70s/early 80s new wave movement but rather than Wire and Gang Of Four they are more in the vein of Elvis Costello and Squeeze with some of The Buzzcocks’ power pop edge. We’ll be looking out for The Needles in the future.

How The Zetlands ended up on this bill I’ll never know. Their dire uninspired bluesy pub rock had us grimacing at each other for a good 45 minutes, much longer than headliners Voxtrot got. I think they played all original material, except it was anything but original, sounding like bad Springsteen, Billy Joel or The Commitments, and at one point they praised XFM for playing their single. Christ, we all know that XFM Manchester Sucks but they must now be plumbing new depths. The guy in front of us, standing right in front of the stage, spent their entire set reading a book and when they had finished proceeded to hurl insults in their direction. That guy was a hero. The Zetlands should be playing “Mustang Sally” at local weddings, not playing the Night & Day with bands of Voxtrot’s and The Needles’ calibre.

Posted by The Ledge on 4th September 2006 at 11:15 pm | comments (9)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.