Stones concerts reignite secondary ticketing row

Last Friday, when tickets for the Rolling Stones 50th anniversary concerts sold out in seven minutes, the secondary ticketing market went into overdrive, with prices rising to as much as £15,000 per stub.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 24 Oct 2012
  • min read
The original face value of tickets ranged from £106 to £406 (including fees) for shows at London’s O2 Arena in November, and at the Prudential Centre, Newark, in December.

But secondary ticket websites are now listing tickets for vastly inflated prices, sparking new controversy around the ambiguous re-sale market.

Viagogo is listing tickets for £1,600 apiece, Seatwave for £414 and Get Me In for as much as £15,600 a ticket, raising questions about where the inflated profits may be going.

Rolling Stones concert organiser Paul Dainty of the Dainty Group has denied channelling ticket allocations to the secondary ticketing market. But online ticket resellers Stubhub said that tickets were put aside for the secondary market, even though Seatwave and Get Me In have denied this practice.

Secondary ticketing does not benefit the creators of the music being played at such concerts, raising concern that the practice is penalising songwriters, composers and music publishers.

Collecting society PRS for Music, which is home to 95,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, currently takes three percent of primary ticket sales, which it then redistributes to its members in the form of royalties.

The genuine secondary ticketing market is currently excluded from this returns process, although the society said it has the right to audit any live music returns and will be monitoring the Rolling Stones situation.

Paul Clements, Director of Public Performance Sales at PRS for Music, said: ‘It has been rumoured that some Rolling Stones tickets for primary sale have been channelled to secondary market. If this allegation is true then they should be included in returns to PRS for Music so that songwriters, composers and music publishers earn the royalties which they are due.’

‘This debate is far wider than the Rolling Stones, and we are concerned that our members receive fair recompense when their music is used. Talk of £10,000 tickets for big music events looks like huge sums going back to the creators of music but that’s not the case….only three percent of the face value goes back to creators.’

PRS for Music appreciates that secondary ticketing is an issue for many of our members and the value of live music is not fully captured. In a high proportion of cases the songwriter is not the performer of the work.’

The Rolling Stones shows were announced last week and tickets went on sale at 9am on 19 October. The concerts are expected to feature a custom-built set design based on the band’s tongue and lips logo while the gigs will be the first since the band played at London’s O2 Arena in November 2007.