Robbie Williams tickets put directly on resale sites

By Chi Chi Izundu
Victoria Derbyshire entertainment reporter

media captionRow over Robbie tickets on resale sites

Robbie Williams's management team is placing tickets directly on to resale ticketing websites at higher prices, the Victoria Derbyshire show has found.

Ie:music put tickets for Williams's 2017 tour on Get Me In and Seatwave - in one case for £65 more, before fees, than a similar ticket on Ticketmaster.

The company has previously called on the government to take stronger action against resale sites.

Ie:music has not responded to repeated requests for a statement.

Ticketmaster, which owns Get Me In and Seatwave, said the tickets - which it describes as "platinum" tickets - on the sites were "priced according to demand, in consultation with our clients, the event organisers".

image captionThe tickets investigated by the BBC were priced at £95 on Ticketmaster, before fees

Tickets on Ticketmaster for seats on level one, block 126 - for Robbie Williams's gig at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, on Friday 2 June 2017 - were found by the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme to be priced at £95, before fees.

But on Get Me In, for "platinum" seats on level one, block 125, at the same gig, seats were priced at £160 before fees - £65 more expensive.

Because the tickets came straight from the artist's management team, all the profit goes directly to them.

image captionSimilar tickets on Get Me In were priced at £160, before fees

A statement from Ticketmaster said: "Platinum tickets are a very small percentage of the best seats in the house that are priced according to demand, in consultation with our clients, the event organisers.

"The UK live events industry has been successfully using platinum for many years so that the full value of these tickets goes back to the rights holders and not to resellers."

'Abusing the system'

In November 2015, Williams's management, ie:music, signed a petition saying: "We as artist, managers and agents deplore the increasing industrial-scale abuse and insider exploitation of tickets for music, arts and sports events by ticket touts, and their online associates and facilitators."

They wanted the government to take stronger action against resale sites.

Promoter Harvey Goldsmith said the position Williams's team were taking made him "angry".

"I think it is wrong, but hopefully most of the people who have signed the [2015] petition are acting honourably and are doing everything that they can do to prevent tickets being sold on the secondary market," he said.

Conservative MP Andrew Bingham, part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, said that "somehow, [touts] have worked a way round of abusing this [resale] system".

He said it appeared that some artists' management teams were "now also complicit in it as well".

In December, the Competition and Marketing Authority announced it was to investigate the resale ticketing market, to ensure sales were complying with consumer rights laws.

A representative of Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball and Summertime Ball confirmed they had placed tickets for both those events directly on StubHub, but added they had not increased the prices.

Tickets 'bots'

The Victoria Derbyshire programme also found resale websites StubHub, Get Me In and Seatwave were providing specialist software - which could be used by touts - to enable users to sell large volumes of tickets through their platforms.

To sign up for StubHub's software, StubHub Pro, users have to show they have sold more than $50,000 (£40,000) worth of tickets in a year.

The software allows users to sell tickets in different currencies, as well as in volume.

image captionStubHub provides specialist software for those selling large volumes of tickets

StubHub has not responded to requests for a statement. Ticketmaster said its software, Ticket Utils, was not available in the UK.

Both have previously spoken out against computer programs known as "bots", which have long been cited as a major problem in helping touts buy large volumes of tickets ahead of the general sale to fans.

'Morally bankrupt'

In Italy, the country's lawmakers have moved to ban secondary ticketing, after a media investigation found evidence that Live Nation Italy was selling thousands of tickets directly on Viagogo at higher prices.

In a previous statement to Billboard Magazine, Live Nation Italy said the allegations related to a "small number of tickets, for a handful of international artists".

Neither Viagogo or Live Nation UK have responded to repeated requests for a statement.

Andy Inglis, an artist manager from 5000 management, called the practice "morally bankrupt".

"I just think artists should answer to their fans more," he said.

"There should be more accountability.

"But I guess when the artists get bigger, they are more removed from their fans.

"So I think you can more easily set aside your ethics and charge what you want."

Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News channel.

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