Twickets is the UK’s largest fan-to-fan ticket resale site, and the only service to cap prices at face value (plus fees).
Endorsed by artists such as Ed Sheeran, Sam Fender, Foo Fighters and The Cure, who encourage fans to sell tickets they can no longer use through the platform, it was founded by Richard Davies, a former biochemistry graduate who moved into the music industry in the '90s.
Here, Davies discusses the current state of the secondary ticketing market, methods of cracking down on scalpers, his insights into the primary market, and more.
What practical steps can artists and venues take to crack down on scalping and inflated prices in the secondary market?
There's quite a bit that artist teams can do to disrupt online ticket touts – as well as providing customers with a safer alternative to resell tickets at face value.
Many of these measures don't actually cost anything, it's more about providing clear advance communications about where and when tickets are on-sale, what the terms and conditions are, and promoting official resale channels.
The terms and conditions applied to tickets are also hugely important.
This is all spelled out in guidance from the FanFair Alliance (www.fanfairalliance.org/), but, in a nutshell, T&Cs should be consumer-friendly: making clear in advance of purchase that the ticket is a personal revocable license, that any tickets purchased by traders with the intention of reselling for profit will be canceled, as well as appointing an official resale service from the get-go.
Other common anti-touting measures are to limit the numbers of tickets that fans can purchase, to personalize tickets, and to insist that primary agents are checking sales data for suspicious purchase patterns.
The upcoming shows by Arctic Monkeys offer a good template of how a well-thought-out anti-touting strategy might look.
If these kinds of T&Cs are replicated across all venues and across all primary ticket agents, then it empowers the artist and it means they can enjoy greater recourse to consumer law – including the cancelation of tickets that have been acquired by touts.
Is there any technology that's proved particularly effective?
Predictably, implementing an anti-touting strategy is more challenging when you're selling paper tickets or static barcodes. These can be easily copied and resold.
The move to mobile-only tickets, and particularly with near-field technology or revolving barcodes, has the potential to give promoters greater control over distribution – and also to offer a better experience for fans.
"Implementing an anti-touting strategy is more challenging when you're selling paper tickets or static barcodes."
Has your work in the secondary ticketing market provided you with any insight into current trends in the primary ticketing market?
The most obvious incoming trend in primary is the push for “dynamic” pricing from US-based companies like Ticketmaster. Similar to surge pricing with Uber, “dynamic” ticketing means that primary prices are inflated in line with the secondary market.
Some artists obviously like the concept, as it allows them to make more revenue; while others are opposed and would rather cap their ticket prices. You've seen this recently with Robert Smith from The Cure, who is vehemently against fans paying inflated prices and in fact appointed Twickets as their official resale partner for their US tour.
Although dynamic pricing strategies are emerging from the primary sector, they are reliant on activity in the secondary market. So in our opinion it is blurring the lines. Without touts setting an uncapped "market price" on [some secondary] sites, there would be no benchmark to justify price inflation in primary.
What are the current trends you're seeing in secondary ticketing?
With Twickets, we’re continually trying to innovate and tap into new consumer trends. Unlike other resale facilities, particularly those offered by the major primary retailers, we’re proactively trying to match sellers with buyers, and help fans resell their ticket.
One clear trend we’re seeing is the “last-minute” market. This accounts for an increasing percentage of our sales, with fans realizing they can’t attend in the final 48 hours before a show and then often dropping the price below what they paid.
"One clear trend we’re seeing is the 'last-minute' market."
It’s why we introduced the facility for buyers to “make an offer”, and why we always encourage promoters to allow resale right to the last possible moment. Those final few hours might make the difference between a show being full or empty.
At Twickets, we're also still committed to offering a simple customer proposition. Sellers can only offer tickets for no more than the total price they originally paid.
We are seeing some other services claiming to be ethical by allowing sellers to make less of a profit than on the secondary market, typically capped at 20-30%. I think that's a slippery road to start going down, as who is to determine what level is scalping and what isn't.
What do you think the next innovation with secondary ticketing will be?
Resale over face value has already been made illegal in a growing number of European countries, with Ireland being the latest. The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority have recommended to UK Government that laws are strengthened.
What platforms like Twickets offer is a genuine consumer-friendly alternative. We actively partner with artists, venues, festivals and event organizers to provide an agnostic service to their customers.
Wherever they originally purchased a ticket, we want them to have the flexibility to resell through Twickets for no more than the price they originally paid. By making that process as seamless as possible, and by giving customers these freedoms, I actually think it’s increasing the value proposition of the original ticket. Twickets has seen growth in excess of 200% on pre-pandemic levels across all territories as a result.
At the end of the day, this business should be pretty straight forward. All of us have been in the situation where we need to sell a ticket. If we make that process easy, and if we promote consumer-friendly resale properly, then I genuinely believe it can help grow and sustain the long-term future of live music.
"Twickets typically sees over 70% of transactions for any event in the final 10 days before the actual show, with over 30% of trading coming in the last 48 hours."
Are there any statistics around when most secondary tickets are likely to a) sell, and b) come on the market?
Twickets typically sees over 70% of transactions for any event in the final 10 days before the actual show, with over 30% of trading coming in the last 48 hours.
This is regardless of the type of event, music, sport, theatre or the arts.
It demonstrates that these are genuine fans looking to trade tickets last minute, once they find out they can't attend for whatever reason. Unlike the secondary platforms such as Viagogo and StubHub, where most of their trading is immediately after the pre/on-sale, when brokers are actively flipping their primary inventory.