This Is How Mumford & Sons Defeated Secondary Ticketing Sites…

Mumford & Sons have long been vocal about their disdain for secondary ticketing companies — or, as some of us like to call them,legalised scalping platforms.  Secondary resellers often make a 25% commission (10% from the sellers and 15% from the buyers) off of every sale.

The band is now putting their money where their mouth is: for their upcoming Gentlemen of the Road festival in Lewes this coming weekend, Mumford has teamed up with direct-to-fan ticketing platform Music Glue for primary tickets and, for ticketing resale,Twickets – a fan-to-fan ticket aggregator in its true sense that allows event goers to swap spare tickets for no more than face value.

Here’s how Twickets works:  If you want to offer a spare ticket at face value or less, simply tweet to @Twickets.  If you want to see every spare ticket to any event, just follow @Twickets.

There are also specific Twicket Twitter accounts for sports, music gigs and travel tickets as well as for shows, plays and musicals.

As with many great ideas, Twickets came out of its founder’s own unfulfilled need. Like many music fans, Richard Davies had grown frustrated seeing concert tickets appear on secondary ticketing sites such as Viagogo and Seatwave for vastly inflated prices.  Of course, as soon as they went on sale, fans were left empty-handed.

Davies had the idea after coming across a tweet from a music fan offering to give away last-minute tickets for free to a show he couldn’t make.  Davies did some research, and found this act of kindness was not a one-off – there were thousands of people out there who did not want to participate in legalised scalping, just because they weren’t able to use the gig ticket they had purchased.  And so Twickets was born.

Unlike other ticketing platforms, Twickets users aren’t hit with any pesky service charges, as the buyer and seller usually simply arrange to meet up before the gig.

And to ensure the scheme won’t be hijacked by scalpers, Twickets deletes tickets posted above face value.  They also block repeat abusers, if necessary. Users themselves also help police the Twickets Twitter feed.

Though Twickets currently only exists in the UK, there is no reason why it couldn’t expand to any other country. Davies is not making money off the venture, as it’s not for profit.  There is even a free Twickets app for iPhones and Androids, and the service now has over 100,000 users across all platforms.

The official Twickets exchange partnership scheme for Mumford & Sons’ festival – which also features acts such as Vampire Weekend, the Vaccines and White Denim – has come to an end, in order to “allow for all tickets to be processed before the festival weekend”.  Of course, there is nothing preventing people who find they have last-minute spare tickets to the festival from using @Twickets.

“We do what we can to keep tickets out of the hands of scalpers and away from secondary ticket sites,” says Mumford & Sons’ manager Adam Tudhope from Everybody’s Management.

“What we don’t want to do is stop legitimate fans legitimately selling their ticket at face value to another fan if they can’t make the gig for whatever reason.”

“Using Twickets for our Lewes Stopover is our first foray into finding a suitable way for fans with tickets to find fans who need tickets.  Let us know what you think.”

The scheme appears to be working.  Whereas a quick Google search for concert tickets normally throws up plenty of options of buying them for inflated prices on secondary ticketing sites, none of the usual suspects (Viagogo, Seatwave, etc.) showed up on a search for this weekend’s Gentlemen of the Road festival (though tickets for their US shows on Stubhub still rank highly).

Though Twickets may not be able to eradicate legalised (or illegal) scalping, it makes the claim of  secondary ticketing sites – that they “provide a service for real fans who have bought tickets, but find themselves unable to go” – ring even more hollow.

Another step towards minimising scalping would be for certain primary ticketing platforms (many of them have their own secondary ticketing platforms), promoters and artists to stop profiteering from it via kickbacks.  But Mumford & Sons’ latest experimental ‘foray’ shows that artists can fight scalping if they put their mind to it – and turn down the extra profits that often come with it.

14 Responses

  1. happy days

    So what’s to stop scalpers using Twickets as a handy source of face-value tickets? I admire their honesty, but good luck with that one, folks…

    (and also, fwiw, this site… “preview” and “save” as comment options? ffs. “POST”. Please. Who wants to save a comment? – pedantic commenter)

    • Twickets

      Its easier to spot touts when we have a (eg Twitter) profile. Their accounts tend to be less active, they don’t have many followers and they often tweet disproportionately about tickets. Genuine fans on the other hand stand out a mile, and its nigh on impossible to fake that.
      We spend a considerable amount of time weeding touts out of our service, through an increasing use of technology. For instance we are developing machine learning algorithms that can score users on how much like a tout they are based on behavioural comparisons. Users that score low will come under more intense moderation.
      Right now we keep a log of those who trade with us, and follow up on any suspicious activity by manually tracking a user’s future conversations.
      Importantly our followers are very cautious about who they trade with, and our role going forwards is very much to help them find the right buyer.
      We don’t have a ‘silver bullet’ to removing touts from the process nor have we ever claimed to. What we’re trying to do though is make their job harder, reduce the size of the market they can trade with and ensure its easier for genuine fans to trade with one another more transparently.

  2. jw

    I don’t really understand how this works. Basically Mumford & Sons are encouraging their fans to use twickets instead of Viagogo and Seatwave? What’s stopping people from putting their tickets up on Viagogo or Seatwave?

    • Twickets

      The difference is that through Twickets the tickets were sold at face value only, which is not the case through other channels.
      What Mumford and Sons did differently was to issue tickets which were personalised and will be checked at the event. Twickets was the only channel where the ticket was officially re-allocated to a new owner, so that when they present their ID at the event it matches the name on their ticket.
      Anyone else will be taking a huge risk that they won’t get in on the day.

      • jw

        How is the ticket “officially re-allocated” if fans “usually simply arrange to meet up before the gig?” Are tickets exchanged or are new personalized tickets issued? And how do you associate the real people who show up at the gig with the twitter account that made the request?

        • jw

          Still seeking answers to these questions. Haven’t found them anywhere online.

  3. Chris

    Bravo to Mumford and Sons and also to Twickets. A service I use regularly and cannot recommend highly enough.I run a football (soccer) fan site ofr a particular team and we’ve always had a rule that any tickets on sale could not be for more than face value and any booking fee originally paid – strangely enough we’ve had thousands of transactions and not one complaint.Secondary ticketing websites are a scam and kudos to Twickets for providing a service – I wish you continued success

  4. Martin

    Used twickets twice and i’m glad i used paypal both times no tickets were recieved from the seller and took ges to get a refund

  5. CBQ

    If people are stupid enough to pay over the odds to attend a live event where their view will be obstructed by a sea of camera phones making shitty recordings and by idiots incessantly chatting to each other throughout the gig or contininually going to the bar or the toilets, good luck to them – I don’t care what they pay. It’s their choice – they don’t have to.
    Until concert go-ers relearn some respect for their fellow audients and indeed the performers, the live concert experience will be shit.
    Sartre was right – Hell is indeed other people…
    And that goes for cinema too…
    Get some manners people!

  6. The Invisible Hand

    For almost any product other than tickets, the logical decision when determining price is “what will a potential buyer pay”? When it comes to tickets, the idea of “face value” is given way too much weight. Face value is simply an arbitrary value that the primary ticket issuer (usually ticketmaster) thinks will result in the best sales. It’s no more or less “honest” than the ticket’s resale value, and it is certainly less accurate in an an economic sense. A ticket’s true value is what a buyer is willing to spend on it, and if that value is more or less than “face”, then the ticket holder should have the right to retain that value. A ticket is a commodity, and whether or not you own two tickets or two hundred thousand tickets, your rights to realize the current value of that commodity should be the same.

    • Frank

      This is a joke and will never work.

      If you had something worth $500 why would you want to sell it for $100?
      Mumford and Sons fans arent in the charity business.

      Oh and I think I’ve heard of that company where you can arrange to meet people before a show and exchange money for tickets. Its called CRAIGSLIST. And good luck with using it, I hope you don’t get murdered or scammed.

      • Helienne

        But it is working. A friend of mine has used it a few times – he even got a ticket for free on the day for a sold out gig by one of his favourite artists. Apparently a friend of the guy who gave it to him couldn’t make it.

  7. Visitor

    Bravo! Perhaps if this kind of thing could catch on in other countries, we wouldn’t have such a TERRIBLE time getting tickets for everything. One of the biggest reasons my friends and I don’t go to more gigs is just the hassle of having to always having to find presale passwords, because there’s only about 6 seconds before sell outs. Mumford was amazing when we saw them here, and the checking of the tickets was fantastic!

  8. Visitor

    If you really want to fix this mess, stop bying tickets for 6 months. Don’t go to any show. I assure you the venues have people who will sort things out very fast…