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China introduces centralised ticketing system for live performance industry

China introduces centralised ticketing system for live performance industry
August 20, 2021

The China Association of Performing Arts (CAPA) has announced the introduction of a nationwide centralised ticketing system for its thriving live performance sector.

Aiming to better regulate live performance ticket sales and deter scalpers from reselling tickets illegally, the new ticketing systems - covering music, dance, comedy, and plays - will be linked to a national ticketing information management platform with unified standards for sales, distribution, and refunds.

Its introduction follows guidelines issued in July by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, under which CAPA operates as an industry body.

The China Association of Performing Arts (CAPA) has announced the introduction of a nationwide centralised ticketing system for its thriving live performance sector.

Aiming to better regulate live performance ticket sales and deter scalpers from reselling tickets illegally, the new ticketing systems - covering music, dance, comedy, and plays - will be linked to a national ticketing information management platform with unified standards for sales, distribution, and refunds.

Its introduction follows guidelines issued in July by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, under which CAPA operates as an industry body.

CAPA believes it will “facilitate reliable data analysis on various kinds of performances, while keeping tabs on the ticket sales”.

Demand for live performances has risen significantly in China over recent years, with revenues totalling 20 billion yuan in 2019, up by 7.3% year-on-year, according to an industry report published by Damai.cn, one of China’s largest online ticketing platforms. Data indicates the performance market has even outpaced the growth of the country’s film box office, which showed an annual growth of 5.4% that year.

However, the performance sector has been mired with ticketing issues, including being criticized for opaque practices, with a handful of local and national vendors operating independently. This includes the above-mentioned Alibaba-owned Damai.cn, a ticketing firm backed by leading theater management company Poly Theater, and some smaller companies developed by local theaters who angry fans have accused of reserving tickets for speculation and scalping.

Such practices were once so prevalent that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a notice in 2017, requiring at least 70% of tickets for commercial performance to be sold to the public.

CAPA Secretary-General, Pan Yan, told Sixth Tone, an English-language news platform operated by the government-run Shanghai United Media Group, that leading ticketing platforms such as Damai.cn, Maoyan Entertainment, and Showstart have been linked to the national ticketing platform, while others may be included by the end of the year.

Pan advised “regulators used to lag behind as they couldn’t see data on each ticketing platform in real time.

“Now with a transparent and unified ticketing system, they can respond to problems of the ticketing market faster, for example, if a performance fails to open enough tickets for sale.”

According to CAPA, the new guideline will facilitate reliable data analysis on various kinds of performances, while keeping tabs on the ticket sales. Regulators will achieve this through a unique digital code assigned to every ticket, which will include information about the type of performance and venue.

In June 2021, China held its largest music performance since the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, which saw 10,000 attendees watch rock band, Re-Tros at Shanghai’s Mercedes-Benz Arena.

Image: Re-TROS on stage at Shanghai's Mercedes-Benz Arena on 22nd May. Credit: Image Shanghai.


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