Friday, 20 February 2015

No More Touts 8 - Interview with Kelly

Last year, a lot of amazing things happened. Among them were fans starting to stand up to extortionate ticket prices. One campaign, which I've closely followed on here, was started by a group of Foo Fighters fans. Among them was Kelly. She was brave enough to come and take on the questioning! Read on for her reasons as to why she launched the campaign and how it's continuing. Thank you, Kelly, for taking time out to come and talk!

Hi Kelly! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Kelly, 32 from South Devon. I am a huge Foo Fighters fan but music in general of all kinds.

You started the No More Touts campaign. Can you tell us what sparked the idea and how it all got started? What was the point that made you say “No more. We need to do something about this.”?

This has been an ongoing issue for so long, I was really surprised that nobody was trying to do anything about it already. Evolution is a scientific fact, there have been some historic changes throughout history and they all have 1 thing in common – people. People can drive change, people can do wonderful things…if they dare to. The Foo Fighters world tour was on it’s way to being announced, fear had set in and there were so many people worried about getting a ticket. Royal Blood and Biffy Clyro fans were experiencing all sorts of hell trying to get tickets. Cat Stevens had to cancel his own show in NYC to protect his fans from touts. Kate Bush did everything she could to protect her fans from touts at her recent London residency. This is great, is it really down to the artists; no I don’t think it is. Something had to be done, by somebody, somewhere. Even if we just make as much noise as possible to highlight the situation and stand up and say ‘enough is enough’.

For the past several years you’ve run the Foo Family. How did that come in to being? What does it involve? And how was it linked it the campaign?

When the Foo Fighters announced their long awaited Wasting Light tour and, more importantly, the Milton Keynes Bowl gig, me and my friends were so excited. We lived in different parts of the country so it was just easier to make a Facebook group so we could all communicate together about travel plans, accommodation etc. I started to receive random requests from other Foo fans who wanted to share the excitement with us, share their ideas and plans. The gig was set for the July, the group was set up in November after tickets went on sale. We received more and more requests for people to join. We had around 350 in the group by the time the gig came around. Within that time, some great friendships had been made, people met up at the gigs, people car shared, a real fan network was being created under my very nose. We all shared stories of our own fan journeys and what the band and their music meant to us. There literally was nothing else available on the internet for fans to communicate in this way. So we built it up from there, to what it is today. Without the group, the campaign would have never happened.

For the No More Touts campaign you used the Foo Fighters as a kind of figurehead for it. Why them specifically?

Well, we are all Foo Fighters fans but mostly we are all music fans. We have all experienced touting in one way or another not only with the Foo Fighters but with other artists as well.

In late 2014, the band also named their current North America tour “Beat The Bots”. Do you think this has any direct connection to the No More Touts campaign? Or was it just a reaction to the general feeling of the fans?

I would like to think that if it wasn’t a direct connection after all of the press No More Touts received then it inspired a thought process, in the right direction. This feeling within any fan community it will never go away, until it’s resolved.

The No More Touts Kickstarter was probably one of the most successful music related crowd funders of 2014. For many of us, it was like watching the countdown to New Year with the £150,000 total being exceeded in just over a week. How much work had you put in to it prior to its launch in September? And what do you think made it so successful?

A great team of dedicated people who wanted to drive this forward and make it work. We did lots of research into locations, historical relevance, different cities. Birmingham is in the centre of the country, it has great transport link and an international airport. It’s also the home of Rock n Roll!! This project had been batted about for some time in general conversation between a group of us and one day I just thought ‘I’m going to do this and I’m going to do it now’ and I contacted Kickstarter. It did take a few rejections from Kickstarter before the project eventually met their guidelines. We had a press release ready to go and had a team of people allocated to certain aspects of just getting it out there. We really wanted to put pressure on the government and not only what we were doing but most important why we were doing it.

There are many people out there who are looking at getting into crowdfunding. What advice would you give them creating a successful campaign?

Be absolutely sure of your end goal and how you are going to get there, these things don’t just happen themselves you really have to know what you’re doing and when you’re doing it. We had a timeline that we followed, we knew when the press release was going out and we knew we would hit target quickly.

Even though the Kickstarter didn’t come to its intended conclusion, it’s still viewed by many as being a success. What kind of feedback did you get from it all? Have discussions surrounding ticket touting (ticket scalping to our friends in other countries) grown? Are you finding other people are now taking an interest? What’s happening next with the campaign?

There are 2 people who if they can, will change this for all fans moving forward and that’s Sharon Hodgson MP & Mike Weatherly MP who are both supportive of this movement. They have both recently launched a ‘put fans first’ campaign over social media, driving people to write to their local MP’s to support this during the debate in the house of commons later this year (possibly March). I received an email from Mike prior to the campaign launch asking for our support, which was great. The UK Foo Fighters fan base is now known for standing up for something we believe is not right and I am pleased with that achievement in itself. We received some great feedback from other fan groups via social media. One fan base that really got on board was the Blackstone Cherry fan group. People really came together to help make as much noise as possible, regardless of which band or group we followed it was all for a common purpose.

One of the big issues surrounding ticket touting is that the government have taken very little interest. Other countries have laws in place to protect fans while the UK only regulates the resale of football and Olympic tickets. Have the UK government started to listen more in the wake of the campaign? Have there been reactions from leaders in other countries? What kind of regulations would you like to see put in place?

I think it’s important to remember, everybody should be able to sell on a ticket. It’s just not feasible to ban the resale of tickets all together. Things happen in life which means that peoples plans change and they can’t always attend an event where a ticket was purchased sometimes up to 6-8 months in advance. Companies like ‘Stubhub’ and ‘Get Me In’ have created this platform for people to buy and sell tickets. But when it gets down to the nitty gritty and people are being sold fake tickets or being forced into buying tickets at 30 times their face value these companies respond with ‘we have created a platform for others to use, we don’t control the prices of tickets’ which I believe to be a complete cop out. If somebody creates a service or a platform then they should be responsible for the protection of the people that use it. The whole industry needs to work together to resolve this. At the moment it’s the artists that are trying to drive change but they can’t do this on their own. As consumers we are entitled to a fair and transparent service, to feel protected and know that we are being looked after – just like we would with any other retailer. The secondary ticket market are digging their heels into the ground, nothing has changed. Now it’s up to the government – if they listen. Yes, fans could boycott the secondary ticket market but when tickets are shown as ‘sold out’ and you’re automatically directed to a sister site or ‘fan site’ where there are tickets available then it’s a monopoly and people have no choice.

Yet there are a few people who are for ticket touting, citing the free market and that people will pay whatever is required for a ticket. What would you say to those people?

These people have more money than sense. Anybody who thinks it’s ‘ok’ to spend 10x the ticket price for a ticket 5 minutes after its been released on general resale is crazy and doesn’t represent the general public at all. Music means a lot to people, especially live music. I’m sorry, I just don’t understand anybody that thinks the free market is the place for event tickets, regardless of if its sport, music or whatever….who wants to be ripped off, I know I don’t!

When it’s said and done, you did an amazing job! You worked incredibly hard and you’re keeping this going. How do you feel about the whole campaign? Do you have any other plans in the pipeline?

I knew this was going to be quite a big thing; it’s difficult to comprehend the success of it. Sometimes I wish I was an outsider looking in to grasp the hugeness of it all. It would have been amazing for the end result to include a musical protest and everybody coming together at a truly fan funded concert, showing that people can come together and drive change and celebrate success. Who knows, maybe one day that will happen. We have set up a ticket exchange through our own website where people can buy sell tickets at face value. The one thing that drove us to do this is that PayPal UK have recently updated their terms of protection, protecting people who buy event tickets against fake tickets and just not receiving them at all. When the Foo Fighters released their UK dates, we bought as many tickets as possible to sell on to fans at face value. You got to remember, we as a fan base are just a drop in the ocean but we will do all we can to help as many people as possible, regardless of if that’s 1 or 1000. 

You can follow the No More Touts campaign (And the Foo Family!) at:
You can also use the hashtag #NoMoreTouts

You can read the rest of the No More Touts posts here.

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