LOS ANGELES — The battle of the band tickets is officially on.
Backed by Live Nation Entertainment and Ticketmaster, a group of concert promoters and artist managers on Monday declared war on ticket resellers such as those on StubHub, Razorgator and others. The newly formed group, dubbed Fans First Coalition, lashed out at "scalpers" and others who buy tickets in bulk and then resell them.
"It erodes the heart of our business," said Randy Levy, an independent concert promoter and president of Rose Presents in Minneapolis. Levy said if fans have to pay markedly above a ticket's face value to attend a concert, they will have less money to spend on other live shows.
The solution: "paperless tickets" that are largely non-transferable. That means only the original buyer can claim the ticket on the day of the event, cutting out scalpers. Sounds reasonable, right?
Wrong, says another group, called the Fan Freedom Project, backed by the National Consumers League and founded earlier this year by Jon Potter, former director of the Digital Media Assn.
Potter argues that the real agenda for promoters who back paperless tickets is to prevent consumers from selling or giving away tickets they have purchased.
"I would say that what they're doing is very anti-fan," Potter said. "Consumers should have the right to determine what they can do with a ticket once they've purchased it. That means being able to sell it at both higher or lower than face value."
The controversy over paperless tickets is not new. Miley Cyrus and Bruce Springsteen both experimented with paperless ticketing back in 2009 for their concert tours.
But with powerful forces amassing on both sides, each professing allegiance to the consumer, the issue is poised to get hotter, particularly as states such as New York this year banned the issuance of paperless tickets and Massachusetts lawmakers consider a bill that would preserve a ticket resale market.
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