Saturday, November 27, 2021

Ed Sheeran comes to Belgium and fights with usury tickets

Ed Sheeran is coming to the King Baudouin Stadium, and he doesn’t want you to pay too much for it. With a new app, the British singer is trying to sideline ticket loan sharks.

The concert halls in our country are open again, but the stampede for tickets is not forthcoming for a while. Much is expected from the return of tours of international artists to crank that machine up. With Ed Sheeran, one of those heavyweights is already hitting the target. He announces a European tour that will stop at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Friday 22 July 2022. There he will present his new album Equals, which will be released on October 29.

The past shows that things can go quickly at such a Sheeran concert. For his show on the Werchter meadow in 2018, the Briton sold 60,000 tickets in 40 minutes. But that also led to excesses: Sheeran tickets were then offered for more than double the original price of 75 euros on resale sites such as Viagogo. That was the work of ticket usurers, who prefer to buy tickets in large numbers and sometimes via specialized software in order to realize a hefty profit.

In 2019, the secondary ticket market was valued at $8 billion per year, compared to the $30 billion in revenue generated by the global concert industry annually. In this way, artists and organizers miss out on income, and fans also pay more than necessary.

No more paper ticket

At Sheeran, opposition to ticket loan sharks grew after he saw hundreds of tickets to a British Teenage Cancer Trust benefit concert appear for £7,000 instead of £75 in March 2017. In that year, he had 10,000 tickets for his tour blocked, among other things, because it turned out that they had been resold at an extortionate price via Viagogo. Afterward, his team helped the duped fans to get their money back. Around that time, this tactic was also applied by Tele Ticket Service, the ticket sales service of the Antwerp Sportpaleis Group.

For this tour, Sheeran goes one step further, with a new digital ticket system that should make illegal resale impossible. “Fans buy their ticket as always through the official sales channels Ticketmaster and Eventim,” says Jan Digneffe of FKP Scorpio, the office that organizes Sheeran’s concert in Brussels.

‘Only you will no longer have to or be able to print that ticket to come to the concert. Instead, you will need to download an app that will link the ticket to your identity and phone number via an SMS verification code. Only a few days before the show will an animated QR code appear in the app, with which you can go to the concert. That should make it impossible to resell a screenshot, for example, let alone do that long in advance.’

Gifts are getting harder

That does not mean those ticket holders who have to cancel last minute are stuck with their tickets, says Digneffe. ‘Within the apps of Ticketmaster and Eventim, there will be a system in which you can offer your ticket for sale again. Only that will not be possible for a price that is higher than the original value. Lower will be possible, for those who want it.’

The new system also has some drawbacks. Tickets can be purchased in a maximum of six, but are all linked to one telephone number. That requires the entire group to enter at once. It will no longer be possible to resell tickets directly to friends: all transactions must take place via the official platform.

Giving a ticket as a gift is also becoming more difficult: you need the mobile number and identity card of the person to whom you want to gift the ticket. And for people without a smartphone, such a digital ticket is not obvious either. “That’s a shame, of course,” Digneffe also knows. “There have also been many discussions internally. But at a certain point, you have to dare to make choices if you really want to limit the resale at extra costs – which is already prohibited by law in Belgium. In the end, those loan sharks make money on the emotion of fans, and that is very ugly.”

Tickets for Ed Sheeran at the King Baudouin Stadium will be available from Saturday, September 25 at 11am, via Ticketmaster and Eventim. The prices vary between 72.40 euros and 101 euros. For more information: edsheeranbrussels.be.

The last time Ed Sheeran came to our country was in 2018. Music journalist Nick De Leu then explained why the singer sold out Werchter on his own in forty minutes.

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