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Ticket tout claims he has deals with venues for early access to tickets

By | Published on Monday 14 November 2016

Ticket touts

A large-scale ticket tout has claimed that he pays annual subscriptions to certain music venues in order to buy up large numbers of tickets to events before reselling them on the secondary market.

Canada-based Julien Lavallee made the claim to the Daily Record, denying accusations that he uses ‘bots’ to hoover up tickets to in demand events when they first go on sale. Rather, he says, he employs 20 staff to do the buying, while it was his deals with venues that meant he was able to place 350 tickets for Take That at the O2 Arena on sale before they were even made available to the general public earlier this year. He also blames the cost of these venue subscriptions for the high mark-up on the tickets he sells.

“We have contracts with venues that allow us to buy certain allotments in exchange for a yearly fee, so we reduce their risk in case they can’t attract the big acts”, he told the Daily Record. “Even if we buy a ticket at £100, maybe, when you factor in our yearly contract paid to the venues, that ticket comes up to £160. So that guarantees us tickets but it also ups significantly the price we pay. Most outsiders never factor in those costs… We will always look like the bad guys”.

The all-important guaranteed ticket allocation “can come from the promoter, venue, etc, many sources”, he added.

The O2 Arena refused to say if it had any deal with Lavallee, but told the Record: “Annual membership of the O2’s VIP Club allows small businesses, corporate clients and individuals the right to buy a limited number of tickets for shows of their choosing throughout the year. Within the terms and conditions of the VIP Club licence, the resale of tickets is not permitted”.

Glasgow’s SSE Hydro, another venue where Lavallee has resold tickets to major shows, said that it “does not place any of its inventory on to the secondary ticketing market”. Which is not quite the same as saying it doesn’t work with other people who do.

Lavallee was tracked down by the Daily Record after his company’s details were added to his listings on StubHub. However, these details were apparently removed after the newspaper began asking questions. The tout was initially challenged about whether or not he used bots to secure large numbers of tickets as the government investigates whether such technology breaches the Computer Misuse Act.

Commenting on Lavallee’s claims to be in cahoots with the venues, the Campaign Manager of anti-touting organisation the FairFair Alliance, Adam Webb says: “Music fans will be horrified to hear this. This investigation offers a rare insight into the murky world of professionalised online ticket touting”.

“As well as the 350 tickets listed for four Take That shows, Lavallee had similar volumes for The Weeknd, as well as Craig David, Phil Collins, Kaiser Chiefs and many others”, Webb continues. “Here was a guy based thousands of miles away, hoovering up hundreds if not thousands of tickets for UK events, and then reselling them at a profit back to British fans. Because of a complete lack of transparency in the resale market, we don’t know if Julien Lavallee is a one-off rogue trader or the tip of a much bigger iceberg”.

Elsewhere in touting news, Bay City Rollers bassist Alan Longmuir has taken it upon himself to confront a tout who had bought up tickets for his band’s upcoming tour with The Osmonds, David Essex and Showaddywaddy. Longmuir handed previously exposed professional tout Andrew Newman a letter last week, detailing his issues with the ticket reseller’s business.

“I had a feeling you might not speak to me face to face, so I thought I’d write
a letter”, wrote the musician. “I have been reading in the press lately how you have been making a fortune by selling tickets for gigs and putting on huge mark-ups. You may not bother to think about it, but your actions mean that many working class fans are being priced out of gigs”.

“Our band, like many others, have been exploited and swindled by lawyers, managers and records companies for years”, he continued. “And now it has come to our attention that you are taking almost 50% extra from the face value of our tickets. On behalf of our band, I’d like to invite you to pack it in and stop being a parasite. Your greed is wrecking the industry. Get a real job”.

Longmuir told The Daily Record: “I wanted to look him in the eye and tell him he is a parasite. We have been ripped off for our entire careers and we can’t even get a fair deal on a nostalgia tour, which we are all looking forward to. Andrew Newman produces nothing yet he is making millions off the music industry without ever playing a note as far as I’m aware. And it’s the fans who are the main ones to suffer, which is a disgrace”.

As previously reported, Parliament’s Culture, Media And Sport Select Committee will consider how current rules on secondary ticketing are being enforced and if new legislation may be required at a meeting tomorrow.