Jamie Webster criticises ticket resale sites: “If we don’t speak up against it, nothing will change”

The singer-songwriter released a two-minute video showing how “politics is well and truly entwined to the music industry”

Singer-songwriter Jamie Webster has shared a video on social media criticising ticket resale sites, former culture secretary Sajid Javid and the way politics is “entwined” with the music industry.

The viral clip has been viewed almost 400,000 times across Twitter and Instagram, racked up thousands of likes on TikTok and been shared by members of Bastille.

“If you’ve ever been ripped off for gig tickets, then this video is for you,” Webster began.

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“My two gigs at The Cavern sold out within fifteen seconds last week but then I found out they were back onsale on resale sites like Viagogo for prices up to £143. That’s more than 3 times as much as the original ticket price (£27). It got me thinking, why hasn’t this been stopped? Why is this still going on.”

Webster continued: “Turns out, in May 2014 a bill was put forward, which passed its first reading, to stop ticketing websites selling tickets on for more than 10 percent of the original face value. Anyone who infringed on that would receive a hefty fine.

“Our now Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid came out and spoke against it, he was Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport back then. He came out and said it is ‘a service that deserves to be rewarded’ so long as the original tickets have been brought legally and legitimately.”

“He then came out and said ‘as someone who believes passionately in the virtues of the free market and who is on the side of the ordinary, common working man, I respectfully oppose the Bill’. Common, ordinary working man, as if we’re some sort of animal species,” added Webster.

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“To add to all this, the CEO of Viagogo and Stubhub, Eric Baker has just bought his third Beverly Hills mansion for $39million (£28.6million). So, if you’re wondering where all the money goes when you buy these tickets for stupid prices, you’re just buying this fella another house.”

Webster finished by saying: “I’ve got people telling me to keep my politics out of music. After all that I’ve told you, here’s a lesson for you. Politics is well and truly entwined in the music industry and if we don’t speak up against it, nothing will change.”

A response from Viagogo reads: “Viagogo is a regulated and secure resale marketplace, where sellers set the price. Ticket resale in the UK is governed by the CMA and Viagogo strictly complies with all regulations.”

“Much of the criticism of the secondary ticketing market comes from a misunderstanding of resale and a desire by some to control the wider events industry and ticketing processes. The reality is, there will always be people wanting to resell their tickets and there will always be fans willing to pay a price they deem fair. Our platform offers some of the strongest consumer protections in the industry, and all our tickets are covered by the Viagogo guarantee.

“We strongly feel that for the live events industry to recover from the pandemic there needs to be less restrictive ticketing practices enforced on fans and more flexibility in the buying and reselling process. This will ensure more seats are filled, and more events are financially successful.” 

However, in 2020 consumer group Which? reported that Viagogo were “refusing” to offer music fans refunds for gigs cancelled due to the pandemic.

Webster’s comments come as last year, new proposals from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) would see secondary ticketing websites fined or shut down under new rules aiming to battle against “unscrupulous” ticket touts.

Under the new proposals, websites such as Viagogo and StubHub would need to gain licenses to operate, and could be fined or have their sites taken down if they are found to break consumer protection rules.

In response to the CMA’s proposals, Labour MP Sharon Hodgson – who has led a group of MPs examining secondary ticket use – said work needs to be done to tackle the “parasitical market” of secondary ticketing.

“The abuses in the secondary ticket market are clear as day and the CMA have been provided a wealth of evidence on this,” Hodgson said. “Fixing the secondary ticket market to make it fit for fans will require political will from the government and time allowed in parliament.”

Back in 2019, Google suspended Viagogo from advertising on its platform amid concerns that the resale site was allowing touts to use the site to sell tickets at an inflated price.

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