- 20 Feb 18
The live scene in Ireland is thriving. Except that, far too often, real music fans can’t get their hands on tickets for big shows – and then see massively inflated prices being sought online by those who do. Ticketmaster’s Head of Music in North America, David Marcus, believes that the company’s new ‘Verified Fan’ initiative can solve one of the most contentious issues in the industry.
Historically, the thought of a string of sell-out U2 shows in Dublin and Belfast would have been the basis for a major celebration on the part of the band’s Irish fans. For months, there’d be something extra special to look forward to. However, the launch of the band’s most recent Irish tour dates was followed by a slew of headlines about tickets being re-sold for upwards of ten times their face value.
Fans want to know how this happens. And the simple answer is that technology and the use of artificial intelligence is at the heart of the problem. Robots – or bots as they are known – are used by ticket touts to bombard a ticket-seller’s site the moment the sale of tickets begins. The scale of this onslaught is sufficient to ensure that touts secure tickets. The only question usually being: how many?
At the time of going to press, the most expensive ticket on any secondary site for the U2 Dublin shows stands at €1,750. What’s perhaps most frustrating is that there has been little agreement as to where the root of the problem lies. For some – incuding Fine Gael’s Noel Rock and Sinn Fein’s Maurice Quinlivan – big secondary ticket sites, such as Stubhub, Viagogo and Seatwave (which is owned by Ticketmaster), are contributing to the problem, by in effect encouraging the re-sale of tickets at a profit.