Pearl Jam Tell Congressmen BOSS Ticket-Reform Act Is ‘Flawed’

UPDATED: The BOSS Act is legislation designed to crack down on improper practices in the secondary ticket market — bots, price-gougers and the like — spearheaded by New Jersey Democratic Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Frank Pallone Jr. The bill, which is officially named the “Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing Act” and was first introduced in 2009, has generally met with a positive response from the industry, but Pearl Jam — a band that has been deeply involved with ticketing since they went after Ticketmaster in 1995 — has written the two congressmen a letter pointing out what they perceive to be flaws in the bill, which was re-introduced last year. The news was first reported in Politico.

While the group praised some of the reforms in the bill, they also note that it “blocks non-transferable ticketing” and “requires primary ticket sellers to disclose the total number of tickets offered to the general public a week before the primary sale.” Some consumer advocates, however, argue that allowing ticket transfers is a key protection for consumers.

“We write to you as one of the biggest touring bands of the last three decades,” the band wrote. “We also write to you as the working musicians and the MUSIC FANS we were for years before that. … For almost thirty years, we have learned from our successes and failures; we have real time experience making sure people buying our tickets actually attend the shows and do not merely sell seats at a markup … H.R. 3248 has been presented as a protection for concertgoers to get access to live concerts. Instead, we believe that it primarily, if not entirely, benefits professional ticket resellers using the so-called ‘secondary market.’”

The band then lists what it describes as “challenges” with the act:

  • “It blocks non-transferrable ticketing: CONSUMERS NEED ARTISTS TO LIMIT SCALPING AND TICKET FRAUD to use and ensure that tickets go to fans instead of profit seekers; transfer restrictions make that possible.
  • “It requires primary ticket sellers to disclose the total number of tickets offered to the general public a week before the primary sale. THIS HURTS CONSUMERS MORE THAN IT WILL HELP, because consumers don’t make purchasing decisions based on how many tickets are available—bulk purchasers like professional resellers do. Many times in final planning, after tickets have gone on-sale, we are able to create additional ticket opportunities. Artists need to retain this flexibility, for example, to open “obstructed view” seats after a concert nears sellout.

“While H.R. 3248 as it is currently written would ultimately hurt our fans, we do think it contains some reforms that would benefit both consumers and touring artists,” the letter continues. “We support the elements that prevent ‘speculative ticketing,’ where ‘bots’ hold many tickets until they find a buyer, preventing real fans from buying tickets directly and misleading others into thinking they’re guaranteed a particular seat. We also agree that the secondary market should not be permitted to confuse consumers by using deceptive websites and support the provisions requiring clear disclosure of all fees attached to a particular ticket.

The band then asks the two congressmen to oppose the act.

A rep for Congressman Pallone referred Variety to the Energy & Commerce Committee, whose press officer noted that an investigation is currently underway and provided the following statement.

“The live event ticketing market has gotten out of control,” he wrote. “Consumers have little insight into schemes designed to drive up prices and efforts to limit their options once a ticket has been purchased. The BOSS Act begins to tip the scales in favor of consumers by providing them greater transparency and control.”

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