Article written by Reuben Williams
First, let me tell you why I hate ticket touts
As a rule I try not to hate groups of people I haven't met. That type of thinking leads down a dark path, a path so dark it's only illuminated by the warm glow from burning piles of books which are scribbled full of warnings about the dangers of this exact path. But, because I'm worth it (a terrible person) I do indulge in nursing a few, carefully chosen, grudges. Only groups of people I feel justified in loathing. Bullies, people who play their music aloud on public transport and ticket touts. I vehemently hate ticket touts and I'm cheerfully cheerleading for their demise. Which is one of the reasons I'm excited to write this article.
Most of us have a kind of entertainment we cherish so fondly it's almost reverential. It could be watching your favourite team playing, or seeing a TV actor you adore in a play. Your first, exhilarating, time witnessing a pop-star on stage, or catching a beloved band perform songs you know by heart for the tenth.
These cultural outings are meaningful. In a secular world, they can even provide an experience that feels sacred. So it's no surprise we go to such great lengths to obtain tickets to see our favourite, cherished, entertainers, artists or sportspeople.
For me, it was Leonard Cohen. His poetry, his songs, and his life have provided repeated inspiration. When he toured the UK back in 2013, in what would become his final tour, I was very keen to see him. I had to wait a few days till payday then I'd get a ticket, I promised myself.
By the time I got paid, it was sold out. The only tickets available were £300+. Face value for those tickets was £60. I was outraged and not only because I could no longer afford to go. From that £300, maybe £40, at best, might go to Mr Cohen (and his band and the promoters etc), £20 to the venue and the remaining £240 to so-called "scalpers", touts who buy these tickets only to sell them on for profit.
Why do I find this so egregious? I think more than anything it's the unfairness of it. The venue provides the physical location, staff, and infrastructure. They (most of the time) clean the toilets, engineer the sound, and (wo)man the bars. The artists themselves provide, in this case, a lifetime's work. In this example, both the artist and the venue received a paltry share of the revenue (less than 15% each) from these marked up tickets. The scalpers contribute no value whatsoever to the ecosystem yet extract the lion's share of the profits. This is parasitism. Contributing nothing, yet sucking the host's blood, or in this case, money (and enthusiasm for life).
This problem has existed for as long as there have been events but, so far, digital ticketing has only made it worse. Scalpers now use bots to buy popular tickets as soon as they go on sale. Dedicated touts with multiple accounts and trading algorithms buy tickets far faster than a fervid fan. Online secondary marketplaces make it far easier for the touts to sell those tickets at inflated prices.
This behaviour doesn't only hurt the fans; venues, organisers, and artists themselves all suffer. Not only do they lose revenue, they also lose out on having younger, more diverse audiences and the event itself loses that unique atmosphere that can only be generated by a room full of fanatical fans, frenetically excited to be there, rather than people who just bought the tickets because they were expensive.
How do we solve this problem?
Cue Lights. Cue smoke machine. Enter TIXIT.
Tixit is a ticketing platform, like ticketmaster, except it uses a brand new kind of digital ticket built using two revolutionary technologies, Decentralised Identifiers (DIDs) and Verifiable Credentials (VCs).
First up, what the diddly darn doodly is a DID?
A DID is, very simply, a digital identity. You could think of it as an online account owned by a single user. Unlike a lot of online accounts though, a DID is cryptographically secured and completely unique, like your DNA.
In the same way that your DNA uniquely identifies you, a DID uniquely identifies you online. In the same way that you, a being with unique DNA, have multiple proofs of your legal identity such as a driving licence, passport, etc. So too your DID can also own multiple credentials which verify its identity. These are called, surprisingly enough, verifiable credentials, or VC's.
We see the need for your VC's
VC's are essentially statements, claims (for example, I claim I'm a UK citizen) which can be owned by a DID, but authorised by a trusted third party (the UK government). Because of the clever way this technology works, the verification by said third party can itself be verified, securely and anonymously, without revealing any confidential information.
This might all be getting a bit abstract so let me give you an example. When you pass through customs you present your passport (and try not to crack any jokes). The customs officer inspects your passport to see that a) it belongs to you and b) it's not a forgery.
Using DIDs and VCs, you could have an online identity (a DID) which possesses a digital passport (A VC owned by that DID but authorised by your government). If you needed to verify your identity online, (you're signing up for an online bank account) then your DID could issue a proof that you are you, and you are a UK citizen. The service provider in question would know this VC had been issued exclusively to your DID (it belongs uniquely to you) and that your VC was authorised by the UK government (it's not a forgery) so they would be able to trust in your ID, yet unlike the current system with photos of our ID ending up on multiple different servers around the world, that service provider won't end up holding any of your data.
If you want to know more about DIDs and VCs there's a great introductory article here which will give you more details and help you imagine other use cases.
So far, so great, but DIDn't (*sorry*) you say this article was about ticketing and what's this Tixit you mentioned?
Let me introduce you to a German/Swiss company called Tangle Labs, who have created a ticketing suite called Tixit, which uses DIDs and VC's to issue a new kind of digital ticket, powered by a distributed ledger technology called IOTA.
Tixit uses the IOTA suite of technology for DIDs and VCs to create innovative digital tickets. The tickets are themselves, VCs, which belong to the owners DID and are signed by the promoter. This signing function, means that the owner knows they have a valid ticket, as they can check the event promoters DID. And the event promoter knows who the ticket was issued to.
What this means is that, if the ticket changes hands, the previous ticket owner will need to revoke their ticket and it will then be reissued to the new owner’s DID.
This means each ticket contains a record of the full ownership history of that ticket
Tickets change hands, of course, for all sorts of legitimate reasons. If, for example, the person who bought the ticket in good faith can no longer make the gig and wants to sell it on, or if one person buys several tickets intending to give some to their friends, because they don't want to go to that event alone, because they're scared of the ultimate aloneness of death, etc. These are all perfectly simple, valid, reasons for tickets changing hands and all of them can be accommodated very easily through the Tixit platform.
What this new kind of ticket means, is that event organisers now have visibility into how many times a ticket has changed hands. The data will be anonymized. Promoters won't see names, just unique DID addresses. But this will make it a lot easier to detect bad actors who buy multiple tickets to multiple events, solely to sell them on for profit.
It may not be possible to completely eliminate scalping just yet, but these innovations will make it much more difficult.
There are also a number of other advantages, for both consumers and event organisers, in creating tickets for an event using the Tixit Suite.
TIXIT for Artists and Promoters
Claim a rightful share of secondary market revenue. If people are prepared to pay many multiples of face value for a specific ticket, that is only happening because of the work the artists involved (and their marketing teams) have done. It's unfair that someone else should extract the value they've created, after all, that's what agents are for. Using Tixit, artists will now be able to claim their rightful share of this revenue.
When Tixit tickets are resold through the Tixit secondary marketplace, event organisers automatically earn a share of the additional resale value every time a ticket is sold on.
This functionality is similar to the way NFTs work, where artists now claim a share of royalties of the lifetime value of their work.
Ensure affordability of tickets. Alternatively, if organisers and artists want to ensure their tickets remain affordable, they can cap resale value (either as a percentage of face value, or as an absolute max figure). There is also the flexibility to combine these options, so a promoter could cap the resale value for a percentage of their tickets while letting other tickets go up in price.
This means that if an artist wants to say 50%, 90% or even 100% of the tickets to their gig will never be sold for more than X amount, they can do that.
This kind of secondary market control has never been possible before. Tixit and DID based tickets promise to usher in a new, fairer, era of ticketing for high profile events.
TIXIT for Customers
Tixit will also improve the customer experience in several ways. Primarily, controlling the secondary market will make tickets more affordable. But there are several other benefits as well. Currently in order to buy a ticket for an event, you have to trust the ticket is valid. But, unscrupulous vendors do sometimes sell a genuine ticket twice. This doesn't happen often on reputable websites, but if you're buying a paper ticket outside a venue, for example, there's always a risk you're buying a fake ticket, or a copy of a real ticket that someone else has already used.
With Tixit, any potential ticket buyer can download the free app, scan any ticket, at any time, and determine if it's valid or not. Tickets can only ever have one owner. Counterfeit tickets will no longer be possible and buyers can always have 100% confidence in the tickets they buy.
Conversely this also means that if you end up outside a venue with an extra ticket, you might be able to sell it more easily because a potential buyer no longer has to trust you, they can scan the ticket to check that it's valid, then when they pay you, you can transfer it to them right then and there.
Another benefit of using DIDs' and VCs' in general is that they are a safer, smarter, way of verifying your identity online and they reduce the risk of data leaks. One of the most common ways people are hacked is that a third party website with low security (say a local music venue that you registered with to get a ticket) gets hacked, those hackers then have your email address and the identifying information you gave that website. Using that information the hackers then gain access to a more important account, like your email or online bank account.
Every time we entrust our data to another online entity, we expose ourselves to risk. With Tixit, you can verify yourself, and purchase tickets, using only your DID which, as I mentioned at the start, keeps your data safe. DIDs on the IOTA protocol are cryptographically encrypted, meaning they have a very high level of security and don't leave a data fingerprint behind.
So for consumers Tixit is a good choice as well.
Your tickets will be cheaper
You can check the authenticity of any ticket, any time, before you buy
Your data remains safely in your control
The artists you watch will be paid more fairly
Tixit will be available to use for events of any capacity in Q3 - 2022.
For more information please visit https://tixit.cc/