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New Jersey approve tougher ticketing regulations

By | Published on Monday 14 June 2010

Lawmakers in New Jersey have approved a new bill that will revamp state laws covering ticket sales. The rules aim to regulate, to an extent, the secondary ticket market that has proven controversial at times in both the US and UK.

It was New Jersey who reacted most vehemently to the allegations against Ticketmaster made last year regards the ticketing firm’s practice of redirecting customers from its main website to its secondary ticket resale service TicketsNow, even when primary tickets for gigs were still available. New Jersey took a particular interest because it was State native Bruce Springsteen who kicked up the most fuss about the practice.

Because the new rules were drafted in response to the TicketsNow debacle, while in theory they aim to regulate the secondary ticketing market at large, you can’t help feeling they’re designed more to hit the big primary ticket sellers like Ticketmaster.

Some allege primary ticketing agencies deliberately sell large numbers of tickets for concerts onto associated secondary sellers, with whom they have a revenue-share relationship, meaning primary ticketing agents can earn twice on the sale of the same tickets. Most primary ticketing types deny partaking in such practices, but the new rules in New Jersey are mainly designed to stop such things anyway.

Among the new rules will be a requirement for primary sellers to disclose how many tickets are available and whether any more such tickets are likely to go on sale at a later date, so that gig goers know how many primary tickets are still available before entering the secondary market where tickets for in-demand shows will be more expensive. Primary sellers will not be allowed to sell tickets to associated or affiliated secondary sellers, and will have to put the original ticket price on the actual ticket. 

Interestingly the new laws will also ban primary ticketing agents from issuing non-transferable electronic tickets. The (very) slowly emerging e-ticket market is seen by those in the live sector who dislike the growth of the secondary ticketing market – and the general professionalisation of ticket touting – as a way of stopping tickets for their events being resold by touts for profit. Some larger promoters in both the UK and US have been dabbling with e-tickets, including Ticketmaster owners Live Nation who, having dabbled with secondary ticketing via TicketsNow, are now more keen on finding ways at curtailing the growth of the secondary market.
Which means, somewhat ironically, that because efforts by New Jersey lawmakers to restrict the secondary ticketing market are really efforts to hinder Ticketmaster, they will stop the live sector from developing its own systems to stop mass ticket touting. Needless to say, while Live Nation welcomed much of the New Jersey ticketing bill last week, they didn’t sound especially pleased about the bit banning non-transferable e-tickets.

In sort of related news, according to TicketsNews, the US bit of Live Nation is working with Google and Hewlett Packard to develop a ‘cloud-based’ ticket-printing system which would make it easier for people who buy tickets online or via their mobile to print out their tickets on a laser printer, including via printing units at gig venues. Or something like that.

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