Reading Festival Needs to Be More Like Glastonbury

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Janusz Jasinski | 22 October 2009

No, I don’t mean to cater for every musical style under the sun and embrace Kate Moss. I mean to set up a Glastonbury style ticketing system.

Well, before I start my blog properly, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Janusz Jasinski. Yeah, we’re not only taking your plumbing jobs, we’re also writing blogs. I run Reading Festival fan site Strictly Reading. I have been attending the festival since 1991 and I have been asked to blog Virtual Festivals to give fans more of a say within the industry and my series of contributed articles will be the voice and opinions of myself and the thousands of Reading-lovers talking about the festival on Strictly Reading at the moment.

For my first blog, I’ll attempt to tackle the issue of a something close to my heart: a Glastonbury ticketing style system for Reading and, I suppose at a push, for the northerners at Leeds.

So what’s this Glastonbury ticketing system?

Basically you register on a website to express interest for a ticket. At some point, if you’re lucky, you will be contacted with an option to purchase a ticket at full price or effectively reserve one with a deposit. The ticket will have your photo and details on meaning only you can use that ticket. I’m sure Google can help you if you want a more detailed brief. Reading Festival fans deserve this approach.

So why should Reading and Leeds have it?

Festival Republic knows Reading and Leeds will sell out each and every year. They could put me peeling an apple on all day and night and it will still sell out. Heck, they could just put an apple on the damn stage and people will flock to it like dole claimants to the Daily Mirror website.

From this popularity arises the problem me and you face at Reading and Leeds today, and that’s the one of ticket touts. They often charge in excess of £100 extra per ticket and make an absolute killing. Reading fans obviously believe this is getting beyond a joke. To get around this, we have been pushing for a Glastonbury style ticketing system with Festival Republic (FR). There are many plus points for such a system. Many, if not all, are explained below…

No touts - none of us believe they do any good unless used as target practice.

Easy to implement - FR do have a huge connection with Glastonbury so manipulation of the current system to include Reading, Leeds, Latitude and other FR events doesn’t extend into the realm of fairies and flying goats (can you tell I’ve had too much caffeine?).

Relatively cheap to implement - a standalone computer system should cost no more than £50,000 to produce. Split this cost over the several festivals FR is associated with and voila. Heck, I've designed and developed more complex systems with the cost not even going over £10k.

Franchise - the system, if done properly could be sold on and revenue gained from it.

Kerching - a deposit scheme a la Glastonbury (and Sonisphere), will help punters buy tickets easier. Failure to buy the tickets will not mean much of a loss to the punter but extra income to the promoter. Remember, Reading and Leeds always sell out so people will always buy returns.

Justice at last - genuine music fans like me and you will have a better chance of going rather than people going for fashion; you know who you are.

Insurance - you can pay insurance in case you do need to back out so don’t lose the deposit.

Kerching Kerching - the extra £100 or so people spent on getting tickets from ticket resellers aka touts, can now be spent at the festival or in the town of Reading. This would suit FR and the town of Reading down to the ground.

Security - no chance of punters selling tickets or wristbands to crooks outside who then come in to cause trouble.

Peace of mind – it’s easy to get a replacement ticket if it is lost. Let’s face it, you worry that you have lost your ticket even though you have it sewn to your forehead.

Banning – FR can actually ban people unlike the current system. Currently we can be banned but nothing stopping friends buying a ticket for us.

Promotion - as information is securely stored, it could be used for promotional events e.g. Slayer are touring, and if you went to RF, you could get a presale link.

You see there are pluses for both sides of the festival barrier. We believe that the most important factors are the fact you can now identify troublemakers and act upon it along with the possibility of more money being spent at the festival.

However it’s not all rosy. The only negative points as far as we can see:

Lose on deposit - if you do put a deposit down, there is a tiny chance you could lose it. It's a minor dent though and with insurance of a few pound, surely this isn’t too much to ask?

We pay for the system - if FR doesn’t absorb the cost (they should do so) then prices will go up again and it’s just getting too damn expensive.

Lose out on full amount - if you have the ticket, fully paid for, you will not be able to get a refund. Saying this, there should be a suitable cut off point.

I very much doubt it will be present for 2010 but it needs to be in place for 2011 onwards, but festival-goers need to stop being ripped off. The positives heavily outweigh the negatives. However with ticket sales for Reading/Leeds seemingly slowing down for 2010, will this be viable? With the proposed Live Nation (who largely own Festival Republic) and Ticketmaster partnership on the table, will this just produce a monopoly that will signal the start of the end? Lord knows. What we do know here and now is that Reading and Leeds need a Glastonbury style ticketing system, for me and for you.

In future blogs I hope to tackle the touting issues and asking is it actually any different from any other business and what things we can do to prevent it.

Cheers for wasting 5 minutes of your life. Keep on trucking!

Janusz Jasinski

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