With the development of online shopping and increasing demand for popstar shows, the black market’s growth has become endemic in Europe (article in French). To better understand the problem and the solutions that can be brought to it, we have interviewed Aline Renet, Head of Communication and Institutional Relations at PRODISS (National Union of producers, distributors, festivals and musical halls and variety in France).
An investigation from the French News channel France 2 on black market (in French)
According to Ms. Renet, the black market is no longer solely the preserve of scalpers but is also in hands of sites that present themselves as second market or trade websites, but which are in fact not. The expansion of both e-commerce and Internet has led some of these companies to develop and use software and robots that can both detect the shows public on sales and buy a massive amounts of tickets at a time. These sites then call into selling these tickets at a much higher price, by adding various fees.
Shows producers own their box office
Producers are not all able to counter such problems in the way Live Nation did for example. Therefore, PRODISS took up the subject in order to suggest, altogether with the artists, to the last government (in 2011 and 2012) an adaptation of the 1919 law which condemned street peddling of subsidized theatre tickets. However, the current music shows and festivals do not receive any public subsidies or very little. Thus, the Law of 12 March 2012 sets out a framework to counter the black market. In this law, only the producer of the show gives mandate to sell tickets for his shows. The law addresses the “usual” resale (through actors of organized black market), but does not control “occasional” resale (when you or me would get rid of a place for a concert which we can not attend).
In this nebula, consumers does not always well out of it, […], he/she finds himself/herself with research results from dozens of sites from which he/she cannot tell the difference between sites selling the real price and those speculating.
Aline Renet, PRODISS
Aline Renet keeps on: “On Internet, many websites do specialize in the resale of event tickets, and many of these companies speculate on consumers’ backs, which has also an impact on the artists’ reputation and remuneration. We must separate the official market (where seats are offered for sale with the agreement of the show producer and which sell at the official price (face value) : Fnac, Digitick for example…) from the other resale market where the prices are not the official prices you would find on the tickets and the sale was not authorized by the producer of the show. In this nebula, consumers does not always well out of it, especially since these companies do a lot of Internet advertising. As a consequence, when the viewer is looking for a site via a search engine (like Google), he is left with search results featuring dozens of sites without any differentiation between sites selling at the real price and those speculating. The problems are diverse: seats are sold more expensive than their face value or could also be never sent: disputes are numerous. ”
Informing customers on face value
In order to clarify the research and purchase of tickets by consumers, PRODISS has created a site: levraibillet.fr. The site is able to follow the evolution of the ticket price as its primary function is to inform customers about the face value of the ticket price so they know what they will pay for the show. The site also shows and follows the pricing strategy of the show producers. As to the question of a certain volatility of prices, with the appearance of demand-based prices (or yield management, a topic that we have discussed here in French), Aline Renet stresses that this subject is a bit of a recurring subject in the field of performing arts. According to her, a producer who would offer this pricing strategy would take a shot in the foot by drying up the market at the risk of doing too expensive shows.
Initiating a reflection on a European scale
The Law of 12 March 2012 has triggered many reactions in Europe. Several countries in Scandinavia have mentioned the website levraibillet.fr during their legislative reflections. In the US and UK, the producers accept willy-nilly this situation with brokers and secondary market. However, in 2012, journalists from Channel 4 investigated in taupe fashion at one of such resellers and highlighted some more or less questionable practices.
However, the legislation being more protective of consumers in these lands, the need for a legislative framework is less pressing. This does not prevent, says Aline Renet, that it is vital that European countries coordinate on this issue of the black market.
To go further:
- Law of March 12, 2012
- PRODISS Guide on true tickets value (French)
- New York Times article on “fair ticket”
- Press release: PRODISS wants to reduce balck market by 50% in France (French)
- an article from MaGestionBilletterie on black market complexity (French)
- An article on MaGestionBilletterie on Viagogo (French)
- An article on MaGestionBilletterie to undertsand the black market in the USA (French)