Artists, Venues And Promoters Form Fans First Ticketing Coalition

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Dozens of major artists have joined with industry professionals and more than 60 venues to form the Fans First Coalition, a nationwide, not-for-profit with a stated goal of protecting fans from fraudulent and unscrupulous ticket practices.

The coalition claims that the organization was launched in response to an increasing number of unscrupulous or outright fraudulent practices in the ticketing industry. The coalition hopes to raise awareness of these issues and advocate for industry or legislative changes to prevent such abuses.

Some of the issues of interest for the coalition include:

• Fans are routinely misled into purchasing tickets from websites that masquerade as being affiliated with artists, teams or venues. These phony, non-sanctioned sites trick fans into believing they are buying tickets directly from the artist or venue rather than the resellers who operate them.

• Scalpers use software and other illegal means to secure as many of the best seats as possible the second tickets go on sale, just to sell those tickets back to fans.

• Many ticket resellers do not inform fans that their websites are resale sites, and that prices often exceed face value.

• Fans are not aware of the true cost of their tickets until after they have made a purchase.

• Many resale marketplaces and companies sell tickets they do not have in-hand, and do not disclose this to the ticket buyer. Fans are often unaware that the tickets they purchase are “speculative” in nature – that is, they may be unable to see a game, concert or show if the ticket seller cannot fulfill speculative orders, even after paying for tickets.

Members of the coalition include: Live Nation Entertainment; the Carolina Panthers (NFL); JAM Productions; Red Light Management; the Carolina Hurricanes (NHL); Verizon Arena (Ark.); Ticketmaster; Durham Performing Arts Center (N.C.); Target Center (Minn); The Recording Academy; and more than 30 recording artists ranging from Anthrax to Kenny G and from Maroon 5 to Megadeth.

“We need to make sure that fans get the tickets, and not scalpers. Fans First is fighting to do just that. Our band wants our tickets to be sold at the face value that we set, so that the real fans can get the tickets — not scalpers," said Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine in a statement.

Ironically, Live Nation's ticketing division Ticketmaster was accused of some of these very practices before merging with coalition member Live Nation in early 2010. In 2009, Ticketmaster paid a fine of $50,000 and was forced to close more than 100 ticketing websites that were described as deceptive as a part of an agreement with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Moreover, the coalition says that it will seek to oppose legislative efforts in the U.S. Congress and several states to ban venues from requiring identification at ticket will-call windows and that institute restrictions on paperless ticketing, a move that will strengthen Live Nation's own secondary ticket market. Without a physical ticket, ticketholders who wish to resell their ticket will find themselves forced to use secondary sites affiliated with the primary ticket vendor such as Live Nation's TicketsNow subsidiary.

"It’s not perfect. We just have to get started. It’s a ridiculous conundrum that they [Live Nation and Ticketmaster] have a ticket scalping business on the side. But we have to start somewhere. We just want to get more tickets in fans' hands at face value," Randy Levy, Treasurer, Fans First and President, Rose Presents, Minneapolis said during a press conference.

The coalition's website is located at www.standwithfans.org – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers

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