There’s a story whipping around social media at the moment suggesting that no fewer than 80% of Glastonbury ticketholders wanted to resell their tickets after the announcement that Metallica would headline. The fundamental flaw in this story is that it is, to use the technical term, flagrant Bollocks.
But the story is being taken at face value by large numbers of people, so I think it is worth taking a moment to explain precisely why it is Bollocks, as a case study in how news is manufactured.
The great big giveaway is the source of the statistic – a survey carried out on behalf of Viagogo.com, the ticket resale site, who clearly have a vested interest in punters looking to buy and sell tickets. But we will get back to that.
Especially for those reading outside the UK, it is worth explaining that Glastonbury is not like other music festivals. Every year the event is held, without fail, all 177,000 tickets sell out in a matter of minutes, long before a single band is announced. Glastonbury is far more about the overall experience than watching any specific band. Indeed, many people spend five days on site without going anywhere near the main stage. So the idea that 80% of them wanted to give up the entire experience on the basis of a single band is absurd. Or, at least, it is absurd if you aren’t a lazy journalist churning out an article on the basis of a corporate press release alone.
These guys are obviously only here for the headliner
Because Glastonbury is so popular and tickets sell out so fast, there have been terrible problems in the past with touting, and the already expensive tickets were changing hands for thoroughly extortionate amounts. The organisers combatted this by locking down tickets to the named purchaser, cutting them off from the resale market.
Viagogo are naturally pissed off at this. Reselling Glastonbury tickets would have been a tidy earner for them. So it is absolutely in their interests to present that case in the strongest terms possible. Popular outcry is the most potent way of doing this, and also one of the easiest to manufacture.
They apparently surveyed 2,000 people and extrapolated from there. It is not clear whether those 2,000 people even had tickets to sell, but even if they did that would represent just 1.13% of ticketholders. That’s like saying confidently that 80% of people at a Brixton Academy show hated it after asking five people hanging out at the back if they were having fun and getting four negative responses, ignoring the 4,995 people bouncing around having too great a time to comment.
According to Viagogo and The Independent – these two will be the only people at Glastonbury this year
This article is opportunist marketing colliding with lazy journalism. Nothing more, nothing less. It should be ignored. I’m sure any ‘proper’ Metallica fans will be perfectly content to wait seven days to see them at Sonisphere and anyone at Glastonbury who doesn’t want to watch them will be able to find at least a dozen other things to do. But I strongly suspect that when footage of their set emerges after this weekend, we will see them playing to a substantial crowd.
This ‘situation’ does not reflect badly on Metallica, or Glastonbury fans, but is instead a window into how easily the news cycle can be corrupted. As a great man once said, “don’t believe the hype”.