Exclusive: Prince Promoters: 'There's No Law To Stop Scalpers'

13 April 2012 | 3:38 pm | Scott Fitzsimons

"Just be patient, that's really all I can advise," Prince promoter Gary Van Egmond tells theMusic.com.au.

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With tickets to Prince's much-hyped Welcome 2 Australia tour on sale 9am Monday, potential punters will be scrambling to secure theirs and hoping that the ticket website holds under the weight of what is sure to be considerable demand.

Ticketek will handle ticket sales for the east coast shows in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and the ticketing giant have assured promoter Gary Van Egmond (the tour is co-promoted by Van Egmond Group and Chugg Entertainment) that they are up to the job.

"We're only opening three cities at one time, so they believe they have the capacity to handle what we're looking at," Van Egmond told theMusic.com.au today. "It's not like a big outdoor concert where you're opening three cities at the same time and the capacity's between 60,000 and 75,000. This is a smaller request event and Ticketek have assured us they can handle it."

To ticket hopefuls he offered, "Just be patient. That's really all I can advise. The capacity is much larger than it normally is, for example in Sydney because we're doing it in the round [stage format] we're up to a capacity of 16,000 and it's larger capacities in all three venues than normal."

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One aspect of the ticketing that they won't be able to control is the issue of scalpers, who often by bulk tickets to in-demand events and then sell them for a profit.

"Any [scalped tickets] we see on Facebook, we pull down straight away," Van Egmond confirms. "But really, there's no law – that's what the problem is. If there was a law [against scalping], that'd be great. Naturally we try and stop it if we can but it's not that easy, [as] what Michael [Chugg] went through with Radiohead for instance."

In that instance in late February this year, Radiohead's arena shows sold out in minutes and scalped tickets appeared on online auciton websites for inflated prices shortly after.

TIcket prices for the shows range from the lowest Silver grade seats for $99 up to Purple Reserve grade seats for $350. Gold are $179.90.

Chugg told theMusic.com.au's daily newsletter Your Daily SPA then that, "The response to these Radiohead shows is a perfect example of the ongoing issues with ticket scalping and Chugg Entertainment hopes that the voices of impassioned Radiohead fans will be heard,” he said, adding that he “implores the forum to continue so that both the federal government and state governments will pay attention and introduce enforceable anti-scalping legislation throughout Australia.

“On a higher level, concert promoters across the country, along with LPA [Live Performance Australia] need to be involved in driving a change.”

The LPA have repeatedly rejected calls from promoters including Chugg and Michael Gudinksi for federal anti-scalping legislation to theMusic.com.au. Most recently, following the Radiohead incident Suzanne Daley, LPA's Director Policy & Programs told theMusic.com.au, "We are not convinced that legislation is the answer to this problem, and continue to focus on consumer education.

“Consumers don't always understand that if they buy a ticket from a scalper they risk the tickets not arriving, having their tickets cancelled at the venue, or not getting the seats they ordered.”

The Prince tour dates leave breaks in between cities but Van Egmond did not confirm or deny that they were plotting more shows should the first ones sell out. He said it was unlikely they'll be taking the tour beyond the east coast though.

"I don't think so. I would like to, but it's such a huge production and the cost of going across is just too expensive," he said.

"We've got five 40 foot containers with equipment on the water at the moment and we've got air freight, because he's rehearsing with his band at the moment, so they're going to fly the backline out. We'll have about 18 trucks moving it around."

The promoting partnership between Van Egmond and Chugg also toured Dolly Parton recently, and after Prince approached Van Egmond for this Australian tour the Melbourne-based promoter brought Sydney-based Chugg in again.

"He [Prince] approached me [to ask] if I wanted to do the tour,"Van Egmond said. "I'm sort of known to perhaps not do as many concerts as other promoters do, but I do large ones like AC/DC and Bette Midler... Chugg and I have been doing some joint ventures together, we just did Dolly Parton together. I quite enjoy working with Michael.

"For instance what happens with this tour is we manage the tour, and in the case of Dolly Parton Michael managed the tour… we work very well together, I like him very much and it works. Never knock success, as they say."