Here’s an opinion – if you aren’t going to go to a gig, don’t buy a gig ticket.

Doesn’t really seem very controversial, does it?

But as demonstrated by the selling-out of the Flight of the Conchords tour this morning and the speed at which these tickets appeared on re-sales sites for up to £500 (and more), there are a lot of people out there who are gaming the system for profit.

First things first: I don’t mind people doing things for profit per se, or even gaming the system; if you play by the rules and you make money, then fair play to you. But the system is broken.

The idea that someone should be able to make £400 getting lucky off the back of five minutes work spamming a ticket-sales website is just not reasonable. It’s particularly odious given that it prices out so many fans from watching popular gigs.

What’s more, tickets are sold at a price point that aims to maximise revenue for artists (and their record company, of course). By inflating those prices by four, five, ten times or more, touts are also taking money away from artists who are increasingly struggling to make money from music sales, and relying ever more on concerts as an income stream.

If you asked a lot of artists, I’m sure they would be against what is happening. Numerous politicians have spoken out against ticket touts, but little has been done – even though there are a wide variety of possible technological solutions nowadays.

There are a couple of obvious options – including tying the tickets to a named photo ID or a credit / debit card – even potentially to a mobile phone number – each with their own pro’s and con’s, including wait times.

While it seems very out-of-whack with the gig-going experience, it’s certainly not an un-tried or un-tested system; it’s also in place for various other kinds of tickets including plane- and certain train tickets and hotel bookings.

But go a step further: given that so many tickets for major venues (which almost exclusively are the target of this sort of action) are sold through so few providers, would it not be possible to develop a system where entry relies on a name-specific, photo ID ticket – particularly given the rise in print-at-home tickets. Phones are more complex, but also a possibility – particularly if you need to provide a phone number in order to finalise any purchase.

I accept that this hasn’t really been thought through – but it’s only three and a half hours since Flight of the Conchords tickets hit the re-sale websites, so cut me a bit of slack.

I accept that there are genuine reasons why some people (people much nicer than I am), would want to buy a ticket for someone else but I doubt that person would be a total stranger, so there shouldn’t be a problem with a “name-and-ID” system.

Another potential improvement would be a “plus-one” system, where you can bring someone (or two? or three?) in to the venue with you on a ticket – so long as they enter the venue with the named ticket holder. This would be a major barrier to the “outside the venue” touts as well, as it would mean they would need to consistently achieve a sale price more than double face value just to make a profit – particularly if you tied the ID to a named credit/debit card, making it harder for them to buy multiple sets of tickets.

If a named ticket holder can’t make a gig at short notice, ticket providers could offer short-notice refunds up to the day before the concert, and keeping a “reserves list” of people who could get their ticket on a “compulsory purchase” on gig day – and would probably be over the moon to do so.

I think it’s got to the point where, for the paying public, the kinds of restrictions above, and the flaws in a thoroughly-thought-through system would be preferable to the situation that we currently have, which benefits a few people who extract money from the industry, while adding zero value to artists, users or venues.

Chris Oliver

I've been playing bass guitar and guitar for over half my life. I last played bass in in a band called Electromotive and as a singer-songwriter I have written songs about cheese and vajazzles (separate songs!). I started out listening to 60s, 70s and 80s rock as a kid and I was in to grunge and U.S. punk and ska in the 90s. Since then, I've broadened my tastes and I like the best of all styles of music, even country. I've been writing for Silent Radio since it started.