More than 60 Tennessee sports and entertainment organizations, including the state’s music industry leadership and major performance venues, have banded together to stop the rampant problems caused by deceptive, professional scalpers.
The Tennessee Sports & Entertainment Industry Coalition (TSEIC) is calling on the Tennessee General Assembly to approve common sense reforms so that the ticket resale market is safe for fans. The proposed legislation, called the Fairness in Ticketing Act, will strengthen the free market by empowering fans to make informed decisions when they purchase tickets for sports, musical, and other performance events held in Tennessee.
Coalition members span the state, and include the FedExForum, Memphis Grizzlies, and The Orpheum Theatre in Memphis; Bridgestone Arena, Nashville Predators, Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry, LP Field, Tennessee Titans, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, and the Country Music Association in Nashville; the Tennessee and Bijou Theatres in Knoxville; and the Bristol Motor Speedway in Northeast Tennessee. These are the organizations that have an investment, employ people, pay taxes, entertain, and help drive tourism for Tennessee—as opposed to out-of-state scalpers who are do not contribute to the growth of Tennessee.
“The unscrupulous scalpers ruin the ticket market for fans," said Sean Henry, president and chief operating officer of the Bridgestone Arena and Nashville Predators. "The bad actors do not participate in a free market; they manipulate a black market that raises prices for everyone. They cut ahead of fans during internet onsales with sophisticated and often illegal software. They drive a wedge between fans and artists, teams and venues. They hike up prices. They refuse to disclose who they are, where they operate and if they actually have the tickets they claim to sell. They create an environment rife with counterfeits and fraud and fans are left disappointed and cheated. The Fairness in Ticketing Act is a consumer protection bill. It would restore the free market and protect fans that spend their hard-earned dollars on live entertainment."
Fans, venues, teams and artists are encountering numerous systemic problems at the hands of rogue online scalpers:
• Scalpers routinely purchase some of the best seats the second they go on sale by using illegal “BOT” software for the sole purpose of reselling tickets to make a profit. In using "BOTS," scalpers cut line ahead of fans and deprive them of the chance to purchase tickets at face value.
• Many ticket resellers do not disclose essential information to consumers, preventing them from informed purchase decisions. Currently, resellers do not have to disclose whether they have the tickets in hand, the face-value ticket price, the location of the seats, or that they are a ticket reseller.
• Counterfeit tickets sold online to unsuspecting Tennesseans, have become commonplace. Though venues work to accommodate cheated fans (at the venues’ expense, if seats are available), sold out shows result in understandable frustration since the fraudulent reseller is nowhere to be found.
• Scalpers use websites that masquerade as being affiliated with venues, sports teams, or recording artists to mislead fans into purchasing tickets on the resale market—often for prices well above face value. This deceiving tactic is often used when face-value tickets are still available through primary ticket sellers and the box office.
“We are proud to stand with more than 60 artists, venues, and major events in support of the Fairness in Ticketing Act," said Pat Halloran, president of The Orpheum Theatre in Memphis. “Our number one priority is Tennessee patrons. We’re tired of watching our patrons be preyed upon by out-of-state scalpers who are only concerned with making a profit. This legislation will cut down on deceptive ticket resale practices, provide our patrons with greater access to face-value tickets and enhance consumers’ protection against misleading ticket sellers.”
“Ticket scalpers take advantage of our patrons by not disclosing speculative tickets and withholding information that would make fans more informed buyers of tickets on the resale market,” said Tom Bugg, general manager of Knoxville-based Bijou and Tennessee Theatres. “We owe it to our fans to provide more transparency to remove the risks that currently exist, and cause far too many problems for far too many fans.”
Eric Church, country music singer-songwriter and TSEIC member, states: "As an entertainer, you want your fans to be able to attend a show with their friends or family and for the entire experience to be affordable. With our tour, we wanted to make every ticketing area accessible to fans—from the pit to the upper tiers—so we kept the ticket prices low. What we didn’t expect was for all these big ticket brokers to join our fan club, infiltrate our system, take advantage of our system, and buy up all these tickets. We’re not the ones charging $200, $300, $400 dollars a ticket; the scalpers are the ones placing that value on them and, in turn, walking away with fans’ money.”
Mr. Church said, further clarifying, “We’re not asking for a ban on scalping, but there have to be rules in place that protect the fans and prevent them from getting ripped off like this.”
The Fairness in Ticketing Act will be filed in the 2013 session of the Tennessee General Assembly. The act proposes consumer protections for the online ticket resale market for Tennessee events. Provisions of the legislation would achieve the following:
• Inform consumers by requiring up-front, clear information consumers should know, including original face value, seat location, and whether the reseller actually has the tickets they are selling in hand.
• End deceptive marketing practices by making it more clear to consumers the differences in non-sanctioned and unofficial resale sites that masquerade as an artist’s, venue’s or event’s official ticket purchase “box office” site.
• Preserve consumer-friendly ticketing methods by ensuring that fans have the best shot at the best seats at face value prices, and preserves the rights of artists, sports teams and venues to use the ticketing methods they choose.
• Preserves the right to resale by establishing a set of rules that are consumer-friendly, above board and transparent, without deception to consumers or the use of illegal “BOTS” to obtain tickets.
“I am sponsoring the Fairness in Ticketing Act to bring order to the resale market and end the ridiculous frustration that so many Tennesseans—and guests to Tennessee—experience as a consequence of bad behavior by internet scalpers whose main objective is to make a buck, however unscrupulously,” said Haynes. “Fans work hard to earn money for entertainment and they deserve transparency and certainty at the online ticket window.”
Members of the Tennessee Sports & Entertainment Industry Coalition:
3 Doors Down — Jason Aldean — Sara Bareilles — Barenaked Ladies — Pat Benatar — Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis — Beaver Productions in Memphis — Bijou Theatre in Knoxville — Breaking Benjamin — Bridgestone Arena in Nashville — Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol — Garth Brooks —Lindsay Buckingham — Buddy Lee Attractions in Nashville — Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in Memphis — Kenny Chesney — Eric Church — Country Music Association — Creative Artists Agency — Gavin DeGraw — Sara Evans — Fans First Coalition — The Fitzgerald Hartley Co. in Nashville — FedExForum in Memphis — Peter Frampton — Freedom Hall Civic Center in Johnson City — Neil Giraldo — Grand Ole Opry in Nashville — Great Big Shows in Nashville — JAM Productions — Sammy Hagar — Don Henley — Live at the Garden in Memphis — Live Nation Entertainment (Live Nation, Ticketmaster, Front Line Management, and TicketsNow) — LP Field in Nashville — Maroon 5 — Martina McBride — Meat Loaf — Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy — Memphis Grizzlies — Memphis In May International Festival in Memphis — Louis Messina — Mick Artist Management — Mud Island in Memphis — Nashville Chapter of The Recording Academy — Nashville Municipal Auditorium — Nashville Predators — Nashville Symphony Association/ Schermerhorn Symphony Center — National Shows 2 in Nashville — The Orpheum Theatre Memphis in Memphis — Jake Owen — P.O.D. — Q Prime South in Nashville — Red Light Management in Nashville — Rascall Flatts — REO Speedwagon — Rival Sons — Ryman Auditorium in Nashville — Spalding Entertainment in Nashville — Lynyrd Skynyrd — Sugarland — Tennessee Titans — Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville — Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in Nashville —Tower of Power — Varnell Enterprises in Nashville — WME (William Morris Endeavor)
For more information on the Fairness in Ticketing Act, go to http://www.fansfirstcoalition.org/tn