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Give touts the finger: the ethical ticket-swapping sites you need to get to know

Posted at 5:00 pm, March 22, 2013 in Music & Nightlife, News

We all know it’s rubbish when, at the last minute, you can’t make the gig you spent last month’s rent on, the gig you’ve been telling all your friends about, the one in an ‘intimate’ venue, where the band hasn’t played together in that line-up for five years and tickets were as rare as hen’s teeth. But, instead of flogging them for a squillion pounds on eBay and thus forcing another hardcore fan to live on tinned beans for a year, there are not-for-profit sites offering an alternative.

Scarlet Mist has been running since 2003 and bills itself as an ‘ethical ticket exchange’, where gig-goers can trade tickets at face value. It came under fire in 2011, when scammers selling bogus tickets targeted the site and exploited its good will. But it has since relaunched, after taking advice from the police about fraudulent sellers, and continues to provide a service for free face-value ticket exchanges.

Though they admit that “ultimately buying tickets from strangers carries an inherent risk”, they actively try and combat it and post up information about dodgy sellers so their users can avoid them. The site has even started an initiative called Scarlet Mate, in which they encourage ticket-swappers to go to gigs together – at least then you’ll know that you’re getting your goods from a real-life music fan and not a scummy tout.

Twitter is another great place for friendly ticket swappage. It came to light in a big way during the 2012 Olympics, where numerous alerts and hashtags were set up to help people get the to Games via their news feeds. Now another Twitter feed has taken this idea one step further. @Twickets is a new initiative that connects people with spare tickets. Tweet them your offers and they will repost them to their 25,000+ followers across their accounts for sports, theatre shows and travel tickets.

Twickets avoid unethical selling by ensuring that no tickets are retweeted for more than their face value. They also have an iPhone app, which has already been downloaded over 40,000 times, and a brand new Android app.

Both Twickets and Scarlet Mist are getting more popular and rely on acts of kindness to really succeed. Buyers and sellers are introduced via the various networks but need to arrange payment and pick-ups themselves (hello waiting in the cold outside the venue or answering the door to strangers in your pyjamas). But they serve people who genuinely want the fans to have tickets very well. Remember them the next time you’re sat at work, finger hovering over your mouse, waiting to buy tickets to see your favourite band and they sell out before you’ve even had a chance to refresh the page. Kate Hutchinson


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