Assignment 1 Blog 4: The Canon of Ticketing and The Materiality of Tickets

A rather prudent area of discussion within the music industry within recent months has been the secondary ticketing market, more specifically the fraud that occurs within it. Sparked by industry outcry (Smirke 2016) and a government review of the market (Cooke 2016), the debate has led to several attempted disruptive innovations (Christensen 1997) of the market, such as Dice.

Dice is an app-based curated ticketing agent, which promises immunity to touts, no booking fees and 100% reliability (DICE 2016). Throughout the website and during a lecture given by company representative Jen Long at Birmingham City University (2016), this disruption-based discourse is used in both their promotion and brand identity, presenting Dice as heroically making a stand against the corruption within ticketing.

However, I would argue there is a flaw in Dice’s manifesto. Their narrative suggests it is primarily the large ticketing agents such as Ticketmaster who are to blame for the secondary ticketing market’s issues. Whilst Ticketmaster’s integration with Live Nation is certainly questionable (Kreps 2009), one can’t blame one industry for an issue that encapsulates several. With the rise of debate surrounding this topic, the canonisation of this industry is dangerous, particularly when considering that paper tickets will never be obsolete.

Whilst the last claim is certainly a large one, I don’t feel it is unjustified. Even if Dice becomes the most popular ticketing agent, industry cornerstones such as Ticketmaster will continue – they offer more to their clients in terms of promotional tools, and customers in terms of conventional buying practices (Orr 2016). In addition, promoters themselves are often accused of ‘shady’ practices, such as selling tickets directly into the secondary market (Cloonan 2013) – another reason why the negative canonisation of the contemporary ticketing industry is damaging; ticketing agents aren’t the only agents of corruption acting within the secondary market.

In addition to the various agents of corruption within the secondary market, paperless tickets will never truly dominate due to the concept of materiality. Materiality has always been important to music consumers, but in recent years has seen a spike in prominence, with the resurgence of the vinyl format (Bartmanski & Woodward 2013; Hayes 2006), as well other popular, physical musical artefacts (BBC News 2016). Academically, materiality within music has leaned towards a focus on the physical artefacts of the recorded music industry – vinyl, cassettes etc. Of course, the frameworks and theories can easily be modified to fit within live music by viewing a ticket or festival wristband as an equivalent of a CD or cassette within recorded music.

Continuing from that analogy, one only has to look at the abundance of recorded music in existence today to illustrate the point. Despite the challenge presented to the major labels by the advent of digital music and p2p websites at the beginning of the century (Wikstrom 2009), physically formatted recorded music is still extremely popular, as shown by the resurgence of vinyl and cassettes for purposes relating to authenticity (Hayes 2006), collection and sentimentality (Shuker 2014). The same concept can be applied to ticketing. Even if a majority of tickets are sold digitally online, there will be those fans who wish to collect ticket stubs, and so will prefer to purchase physical tickets, even if they are less convenient, in a similar way to consumers who buy vinyl. Bennett and Roger have already shown ticket stubs carry materiality and cultural value as a treasured collectable (2015); there is no obvious reason for tickets to follow a different trajectory to vinyl or CDs when said trajectory is re-purposed for the live music industry.

 

  • Bartmanski, D. and Woodward, I. (2013). The vinyl: The analogue medium in the age of digital reproduction. Journal of Consumer Culture, 15(1), pp. 3-27.
  • BBC News. (2016). Gustav Mahler £4.5m manuscript breaks record at Sotheby’s – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-38142482 [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].
  • Bennett, A. and Rogers, I. (2015). Popular Music and Materiality: Memorabilia and Memory Traces. Popular Music and Society, 39(1), pp. 28-42.
  • Cooke, C. (2016). UK government publishes its secondary ticketing review | Complete Music Update. [online] Completemusicupdate.com. Available at: http://www.completemusicupdate.com/article/uk-government-publishes-its-secondary-ticketing-review/ [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].
  • Christensen, C. (1997). The Innovator’s Dilemma. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press.
  • Cloonan, M. (2013 b) Mastering Tickets (repost). [online] Livemusicexchange.org. Available at: http://livemusicexchange.org/blog/mastering-tickets-repost-martin-cloonan/ [Accessed 28 Nov. 2015].
  • DICE, (2016). Gig tickets with No Booking Fees – Get the app now | DICE. [online] DICE. Available at: https://dice.fm/ [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].
  • Hayes, D. (2006). “Take Those Records off the Shelf”: Youth and Music Consumption in the Postmodern Age. Popular Music and Society, 29(1), pp.51-68
  • Kreps, D. (2009). Bruce Springsteen “Furious” at Ticketmaster, Rails Against Live Nation Merger. [online] Rolling Stone. Available at: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/bruce-springsteen-furious-at-ticketmaster-rails-against-live-nation-merger-20090204 [Accessed 14 March 2016]
  • Long, J. (2016). DICE Music.
  • Orr, A. (2016). An Exploration of British Live Music Promotional Practices from 2010-2015, using The Ticketline Network Ltd. (Ticketline) as a Case Study. Birmingham City University.
  • Shuker, R. (2014). Record Collecting and Fandom. In: M. Duffet, ed., Popular music fandom : identities, roles and practices, 1st ed. New York: Routledge, Chapter 10.
  • Smirke, R. (2016). One Direction, PJ Harvey Join New UK Industry Alliance Advocating for Secondary Ticketing Regulation. [online] Billboard. Available at: http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/7438312/fanfair-alliance-uk-secondary-ticketing-market [Accessed 30 Nov. 2016].
  • Wikstrom, P. (2009). The Music Industry. 1st ed. Cambridge:Polity.
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