An update on my anti-touting petition

ticket touts

The English Cricketing Board gets tough. Time for music to do the same?

As regular readers (and those who get re-directed here by various tweets etc.. thank you) will know, in the last three weeks I have launched an anti-touting petition .

I was spurred into action by the Kate Bush tickets debacle, but it wasn’t about me failing to get tickets for Kate Bush. It’s about the way in which punters are fleeced by people who have no interest in the events other than a way to make a quick buck, with ridiculous mark-ups.

When I started the petition, Maria Miller was the Culture Secretary in the UK. Unless you take no interest in Politics (in which case, you are setting yourselves up to be completely exploited) you will have noticed she has resigned. The new Culture Secretary is Sajid Javid, or to give him his full title, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Equalities.

So the petition is directed to him, rather than Prime Minister David Cameron. Within a matter of hours of Mr. Javid being appointed, it emerged that he had praised ticket touts as being ‘classic entrepeneurs.’ Now, I’m not a Tory voter – but I can imagine that there were those within his own party cringing at this. And whilst the eagle-eyed will point out that this has been attributed to him three years ago, he has not retracted it.

It’s not just about music – it’s about sport and theatre, too. Watch this summer as at major sporting events touts make a killing. This money won’t go to anyone but the touts. I’d be willing to be they won’t be paying tax on these earnings (remember how Al Capone was caught in the end?) I can understand that there are those people who buy a ticket and then cannot go, who want to get their money’s worth. Fine. But anyone who thinks that this is what ticket touts are doing…well, you probably fell for the ‘gullible’s just been taken out of the dictionary, too’ didn’t you?

It may seem hard to stop ticket touting. But just because there is a market for something, doesn’t make it it a case for so-called entrepeneurs to get involved. It exploits vulnerable punters and waving the touts along with the ‘well, if people are stupid enough to pay for it’ really doesn’t legitimise it. There might be a market for someone dealing drugs outside a primary school – but do you want people to do it? If people are always going to murder other people do we just decriminalise that on the grounds it’s probably going to happen anyway? Far-fetched examples, perhaps but relevant.

So, please, keep up the pressure. Sign the petition and spread the word. We can do this.

Interestingly, there has also been criticism this year of Record Store Day as people have sought to profit and make a killing as soon as possible without letting genuine fans get their hands on the merchandise. Paul Weller has already said he won’t be involved because of inflated prices – and The Quietus has published an excellent article on whether the day is in crisis.

If you would like to sign the petition, please follow this link. Please share and retweet

Record Store Day 2012


Tomorrow (Saturday April 21) marks the now annual Record Store Day. In a lot of ways, I think it’s fantastic -I like the fact that bands are putting things out onto vinyl, that vinyl is still being made and bought by people this far into the twenty-first century, and that while some of the big stores have gone, that there are still independents hanging in there, and in quite a few cases, flourishing.

But like a lot of things, I could make a few grumbles:

Firstly, that the real success is whether people are inspired to go and buy records, CDs or whatever in record shops on the 364 days of the year that aren’t Record Store Day. It’s going to be up to stores to encourage people to want to come back, but also up to customers who like the idea of actual, y’know, physical shops (as opposed to online retailers) to go and buy them.

Secondly, whilst it’s wonderful that stuff is being produced physically, if it’s made too expensive it will put people off (though to be honest, if someone wants to pay £150 for a vinyl boxset of Disturbed albums that’s their call). I was excited by the thought of The re-issued Cure albums, but at £25 a go for the first five albums on vinyl (which I already own)…sorry, but the mortgage needs paying, there’s food to be bought and us poor public sector workers aren’t all on massive incomes. Also if it gets flogged on ebay by greedy sods who are trying to make a fast buck – you are no better than ticket touts.

Thirdly, the music business has been its’ own worst enemy for years. The pricing of CDs when they first appeared in the 1980s was ludicrous: they were more than vinyl or cassettes, and at one point double. Ironically it is far more likely that a new release CD in 2012 will cost you less than it did it 1987. The thing was that it lead to people buying abroad if they could get it cheaper, and then online, with the result that the shops were priced out. Certainly, online retailers had their advantages -but the tax loopholes were closed in a classic horse gate bolted kind of move.

These moans aren’t new, and they will be doubtless be made elsewhere. The thing is: I still love record shops. It may be a romantic idea -and one that my thirteen month old soon may grow up to sneer at, but there’s far much more soul (hopefully literally!) in a bricks and mortar record shop than an online one. I tend to go into my local independent record store, Avalanche in Edinburgh, at least twice a week. It has to be said that seeing -and still seeing -releases that I have put out
in the window there gives me far more of a thrill than seeing them on iTunes ever could.

Independent Record stores -like good independent book shops-should have staff who know what they are on about. Sorry, but the ‘other customers who bought this also bought’ feature is not the same as a personal recommendation. Not when your taste stretch from Schubert to Slayer like mine do.

But bring it on. Great that five years down the line there are still record stores with open doors to celebrate, even if for some artists and their big record companies it will be another marketing ploy, without any of the artists needing to die (and invoke the scenario set out in The Smiths’ ‘Paint A Vulgar Picture’). Stuff needs to be happening right the way through the year. People making the effort to go to the shops (I realise easier in a big town or city than a small market town, where the chances are that since Woolworths went bust you can only buy what’s on offer in the supermarket). Record shops staff not being arsey, though the customer may not always be right.

Use them or lose them. My eye is on those Leonard Cohen and PiL 12″s, and the Arctic Monkeys and Belle & Sebastian 7″s…

From some of the special releases available for tomorrow:

PiL ‘Lollipop Opera’ taken from the ‘One Drop EP’:

Arctic Monkeys ‘R U Mine?’

Belle and Sebastian ‘Crash’ (Primitives cover)

How different would music have turned out without this track?

Kraftwerk -‘Trans Europe Express.’

I know this might be heresy, but I’m starting to wonder if Kraftwerk might actually have been more important than the Sex Pistols…Don’t get me wrong, the Pistols changed a hell of a lot in the music industry, but to listen to Kraftwerk is like seeing a prediction for the next thirty years of music. Without this song…imagine how post-punk, hiphop, pretty much anything from the dance scene from Aphex Twin to trance would have turned out so differently. Like an omelette without eggs…

Perhaps Public Image Ltd. were ultimately more important than the Sex Pistols? Discuss. I don’t know how much of an influence Kraftwerk had on PIL, but I think they must have seeped through in some way.

P.I.L. -‘Death Disco.’

BTW…(final thought before stumbling off to bed)…is this 80s cheese or a seminal track?

Ultravox -‘Vienna.’

D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so grey?

John Peel in 1976

OK, slightly rubbish heading but I’m running out of funny original titles.

Anyway, it’s been a few days since I did a post resting on John Peel’s Festive Fifties, so here we go:

In recent years, it is increasingly being considered that John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten)’s post Sex Pistols band, Public Image Ltd (PiL) may, in fact, have been far more groundbreaking than the Sex Pistols. No kidding.

Public Image Ltd.- ‘Public Image.’ mp3 (1978 Festive Fifty no.9, 1979 Festive Fifty no.9, 1980 Festive Fifty no.11, 1981 Festive Fifty no.26, 1982 All-time Festive Fifty no.20)

Famously, John Peel’s favourite ever song was this, the opening lines of which are now on his gravestone:

Undertones -‘Teenage Kicks.’ mp3 (1978 Festive Fifty no.10, 1979 Festive Fifty no.2, 1980 Festive Fifty no.7, 1981 Festive Fifty no.6, 1982 Alltime Festive fifty no.8, Millennium no.2)

There seems to be a bit of a link between teaching and rock’n’roll, despite the fact that the two might seem to be diametrically opposed. Step forward, in this case, Gordon MacIntyre and Katie Griffiths from Ballboy.

Ballboy -‘All The Records On the Radio Are Shite.’ mp3 (2002 Festive Fifty no.10)

There have been a number of cover versions making the Festive Fifty over the years, including this one (a fair bit of ‘goth’ made it onto the FF over the years):

Bauhaus -‘Ziggy Stardust.’ mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty no.14)

…and despite the accusations, it wasn’t all white boys with guitars in the Festive fifty over the years either

Broadcast -‘Echoes Answer.’ mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.36)

Though some of those white boys with guitars did make some excellent records, though:

Pavement -‘Range Life.’ mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.14)

‘At least once a week I drive a nail through my foot for not seeing them while I had the chance’ said Peel of Big Black. Maybe I’m just afraid of pain. Main man Steve Albini went on to produce Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Low and the Wedding Present.

Big Black -‘Colombian Necktie.’ mp3 (1987 Festive Fifty no.18)

Finally, many thanks to Steve at Teenage Kicks for posting these, without whom I wouldn’t be able to post these here:

Sabres Of Paradise -‘Wilmot.’ mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.

Ministry -‘Jesus Built My Hot Rod.’ mp3 (1992 Festive Fifty no.3)

Very Things -‘The Bushes Scream While My Daddy Prunes.’ mp3 (1984 Festive fifty no.27)

Will be more music here over the weekend. Keep it tuned, so to speak. X