Sep 28, 2023 3 min read

BOSS-SWIFT Act to regulate ticketing in the US introduced in Senate

The BOSS-SWIFT Act that proposes new regulation of the American ticketing business - introduced in the US House Of Representatives earlier this year - has now also been introduced in the Senate

BOSS-SWIFT Act to regulate ticketing in the US introduced in Senate

Another set of proposals for regulating for the American ticketing business has been introduced in US Congress, though this is the Senate version of legislation already proposed in the House Of Representatives.

It’s the snappily titled Better Oversight of Stub Sales and Strengthening Well Informed and Fair Transactions for Audiences of Concert Ticketing Act. Or the BOSS-SWIFT Act, if you prefer.

One of the senators introducing the act in Senate is Richard Blumenthal, who says: “This measure will be a major step toward stopping all the hidden fees and exorbitant prices that have plagued concertgoers for far too long. Ticket buyers now face sky-high junk charges or shut outs by scalpers and secondary sellers. These standards bring fairness and transparency to fans, artists, and venues who power this industry".

Ticketing has become a big talking in US political circles again over the last year ever since Ticketmaster's Verified Fan system collapsed when tickets went on sale for Taylor Swift's The Eras Tour last November.

Although Bill Pascrell, in the House Of Representatives, has been pushing for more rigorous regulation of the ticketing market for years.

He originally proposed what he called the BOSS Act in 2009 following another Ticketmaster scandal, that time relating to Bruce Springsteen fans being directed from the main Ticketmaster site to higher-priced touted tickets on its resale site, even though tickets were still available on the main platform.

There have been various versions of the BOSS Act over the years, with the most recent iteration named the BOSS-SWIFT Act to capitalise on the latest Ticketmaster scandal. As the Senate version of the act was being introduced yesterday, back in the House a subcommittee of the Energy & Commerce Committee was also discussing Pascrell's latest proposals.

In a statement to that subcommittee, Pascrell said: "I have worked on this issue for almost fifteen years. The market is criminally under regulated. This industry is the Wild West: mammoth, opaque and speculative".

"The newer, tougher, stronger, fearless version of the most consumer friendly ticketing reform legislation is the BOSS and SWIFT Act", he added. "My plan creates fair rules and brings needed daylight. No more hidden fees. No more labyrinth of shady gimmicks. This is me trying to make a change in the ticketing marketplace".

By the way, the Congress member was trying to name-check as many Taylor Swift songs as possible in his statement, linking to them in the published version of it. Five were name-checked in those few sentences there, if you can be bothered to look for them.

In the actual act, there are proposed new laws to regulate both primary and secondary ticketing. Among other things, it would force US ticket sellers to declare upfront the total cost of any one ticket - including all commissions and fees - and require more transparency around ticket availability and refund policies.

Most ticketing companies - including Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster - are supportive of moves to force everyone in the market to declare the total cost of a ticket upfront. However, not all the things proposed in the BOSS-SWIFT Act will be popular with all ticketing platforms.

Meanwhile, some of those in the music community who have been calling for tighter regulation of ticketing are also critical of the BOSS-SWIFT Act. That’s because - while it does propose some new regulation of secondary ticketing - the act also protects the right of touts, or scalpers, to resell tickets for profit. Which, for some campaigners, makes Pascrell's proposals too pro-tout.

That said, those who are pro-reform but don’t like the BOSS-SWIFT Act have other options. Several proposals for ramping up regulation of the ticketing business have now been proposed in Congress, including another backed by Blumenthal. So ticketing companies and campaigners can pick whichever set of proposals is closest to their own agenda.

Though, whether any of these proposals actually become law, remains to be seen.

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