“The resale of tickets will not be tolerated.”
That’s the stark message which has been confronting fans over the past few days on Adele’s official website.
It’s a warning shot to touts looking to nab pre-sale tickets to the star’s 36-date 2016 European tour, which were made exclusively available yesterday morning to registered fans on Adele.com.
MBW can confirm that a whopping 57,000 tickets have now been sold to just the 14-date UK and Ireland leg of the tour by independent ticketing operator SongKick.
However, Team Adele’s zero tolerance approach to persistent touts hasn’t quite managed to stamp out the practice entirely.
MBW understands that up until yesterday evening, just over 1,000 of these tickets had been listed for re-sale on sites such as Stubhub, Viagogo, GetMeIn! and Seatwave – the latter two owned by concert giant Live Nation.
That means approximately 1.9% of the ‘first wave’ of Adele tickets ended up on secondary ticketing sites – with some today being sold for prices in excess of £1,000.
1.9%. It’s a percentage that’s much lower than the touts would have liked to have achieved, with experts telling us the average arena gig sees closer to 20%.
But for Adele and her team, and their severe lack of ‘tolerance’ over resale, it’s still not good enough.
So they’re not stopping there.
“The big problem here is legislation,” Adele’s manager, Jonathan Dickins at September, tells MBW.
“Until a law is passed in the UK that outlaws ticket resale profiteering you cannot stop it completely.”
“The big problem here is legislation.”
Jonathan Dickins, September
That doesn’t mean Team Adele has to take it lying down, though.
Ahead of 85,000 more tickets going on sale to the public this Friday (December 4) September Management and their associates are doing everything they can to block and quash touting on a number of levels.
Their first line of defence was the pre-sale registration process.
In order to be in with a chance of getting hold of the initial batch of Adele tickets, fans had to volunteer a series of personal details on Adele.com.
More than 500,000 people across the UK and Europe signed up, Dickins tells MBW. (In a month of pretty amazing stats for Adele, there’s another one.)
“We were carefully monitoring all of the registrations to try and spot anything suspicious,” says Dickins.
Experts managed to catch more than 18,000 ‘known or likely touts’ from the process – around 15,000 of them based in the UK/EU – and kick them out before they even had a chance to buy tickets.
“This is a show for fans who’ve waited years for Adele to perform,” adds Dickins.
“Everyone working on it just wants the best outcome for those fans.”
Sadly, even combing registrations for ‘known or likely touts’ isn’t foolproof.
That’s why those 1,000+ Adele UK tour tickets are now being sold for ludicrous money on resale sites.
Team Adele, though, have another trick up their sleeve.
Although Dickins is clearly aghast at the lack of anti-touting legislation in the UK – the practice is legally prohibited in countries including Israel and Canada – he does at least have some legal weaponry to deploy.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 was introduced earlier this year, carrying new laws restricting the resale of tickets to live events in the UK.
It warns secondary ticketing operators they must make information known to the buyer, which ‘as far as applicable’, should include ‘the number, letter or other distinguishing mark… of the seat’.
Where this instruction is being followed by resale sites, says Dickins, it offers Team Adele an opportunity.
“We zap the ticket,” he says.
The purchase is cancelled by the original seller – SongKick – and the identified seat can then be made available to genuine fans.
MBW understands that, so far, over 100 tickets have been cancelled by Team Adele this way.
(The original buyer, whether professional tout or opportunistic punter, still gets a full refund after the cancellation. “I personally think that money should go to charity,” says Dickins – a hypothetical suggestion which would at least make touts sweat a bit if it could ever be enacted.)
There is, however, an obstacle which Dickins finds even more frustrating than the current legal vacuum – that resale sites, in his opinion, don’t seem to be abiding by existing UK law.
“You go on the vast majority of these ticket sites and they’ll tell you the block and the row of the seat, but not the number,” he says.
Conveniently for the resale sites, without this number, Team Adele can’t cancel a purchase at source.
“Everyone working on these concerts just wants the best outcome for fans.”
But is it actually illegal for Seatwave, Viagogo et al not to display a seat number? It’s a grey area.
Remember the phrasing from the Consumer Act? “Where applicable.”
Dickins backs a new campaign, led by managers, agents and artists such as Coldplay, calling for a tightening of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 – something which could force all touts to disclose the exact details of their seat online, and therefore risk them being cancelled by an artist’s team.
There are other anti-resale tactics that, on this occasion, Team Adele have decided against.
A complete digital ticketing setup is one option, making any ticket resale not approved by an artist’s team a logistical headache.
However, there are risks – especially if something goes wrong with a venue’s equipment. Visions of fans queuing down the street wearing grumpy faces – perhaps Team Adele didn’t want to risk it.
Fans are however, being asked to bring photo ID, with venue security instructed to ensure this tallies with ticket ownership via spot checks – another tactic in Team Adele’s quest to limit touting as much as possible.
Not that September Management is against genuine fans selling Adele’s tour 2016 tickets – face value of £35-£95 – to one another.
MBW can reveal that when the remaining Adele tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday, those looking to offload theirs will be officially encouraged to use Twickets – the face value fan-to-fan ticket exchange.
“Obviously we expect the public sale to throw up more touting activity, because it’s much harder to control than the pre-sale,” says Dickins.
“But at least by pointing people to ethical secondary ticket solutions such as Twickets, we make the option obvious.”
“playing arenas is the next organic step for adele.”
The humongous pent-up demand for Adele tickets is, of course, the key reason why those crazy-priced tickets on secondary sites will, depressingly, sell out.
(And why, says Songkick, some fans had a scare when they appeared to see private details of other ticket customers yesterday.)
So why can’t Adele just play to more people?
A 36-date tour is a big undertaking for any artist, but surely she could have sold out stadiums, rather than arenas?
“You have to remember that the last time Adele toured, it was for 21,” says Dickins.
“In London, for example, we did two nights at Hammersmith and one night at the Albert Hall. That’s 15,000 people in total – about the same as one night at the O2. This is the organic next step.”Music Business Worldwide