Hong Kong's Mirror takes on scalpers with real-name rule for buying concert tickets

Canto-pop group Mirror.
PHOTO: Instagram/Mirror.weare

Hong Kong boy band Mirror has responded to calls by fans and the authorities to take a stance against scalpers after announcing that anyone looking to buy tickets during a public sale for their upcoming concerts will need to register using their real names.

Just months ahead of their first shows at the Hong Kong Coliseum, which will run for 12 nights during July and August, the popular Canto-pop group said they would require buyers to register their real names because of the overwhelming demand for tickets.

"We hear you!" the band wrote in an Instagram post on Wednesday (May 25), after fans had made repeated calls online for a real-name ticketing system.

"Although we have faced numerous difficulties in the past, we will do our best. We hope more fans can come and support us," the band said.

"We have seen overwhelming support for our concerts. We noticed that it is hard for Mirror fans to secure a ticket to support us. We plan to hold two additional shows and run a real-name ticketing system for the public sale tickets using Urbtix."

Urbtix is one of the city's major ticketing systems, providing services to programme organisers using venues managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

The department said it welcomed the band's decision, adding authorities had taken the initiative by meeting with the concert's organisers to discuss how to combat ticket scalping.

"The [department] will render all practicable assistance in regard to ticket sales and admission arrangements to the organiser, and also calls on ticket holders to arrive early at the concerts' venue, the Hong Kong Coliseum," it said.

But lawmaker Chan Hok Fung, a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), said only 30 per cent of tickets for Mirror's first 10 concerts had been set aside for public sale by organisers, the minimum amount required at the venue under the city's current rules.

The remaining 70 per cent will be sold privately by the organiser or via the concert's sponsors.

All tickets for the two additional events announced by Mirror will be available for fan club members public sale.

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Chan was among several legislators who referenced the much-anticipated concert in discussions about current ticket sale practices with acting home affairs minister Jack Chan Jick Chi on Wednesday.

"We hope there are more real-name system tickets available, so the chances of purchasing tickets will be higher for the public," said Vincent Cheng Wing Shun, who also serves as a DAB lawmaker.

Cheng added that he hoped that organisers of future concerts would also adopt a real-name requirement for selling tickets.

Mirror is a boy band formed through a reality-TV talent competition, Good Night Show — King Maker, that screened on ViuTV in 2018.

Tickets for their upcoming concert, which are not yet available to the public, will range in price from HK$480 to HK$1,280 (US$61 to US$163) (S$84 to S$224).

In April, tickets were quickly snapped up during a prioritised sale by an event sponsor, with one scalper reportedly offering seats at the front at the concert for HK$438,000.

Police also arrested a man last month for allegedly selling two fake Mirror concert tickets for HK$10,000.

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Other performers have also said they will require buyers to purchase tickets by registering with their real names.

Independent local singer-songwriter Tyson Yoshi, whose real name is Ben Cheng Tsun Yin, said on Tuesday that he would adopt a similar system to sell tickets for his concert in August.

"Hong Kong seems to have bad 'concert tickets' culture. There [are] many people [buying] tickets for earning their own money, and it's not fair to those who want to go watch the concert to support Tyson or other artistes," a spokeswoman for Yoshi told the Post.

She said the team felt "upset" by the thought that someone might need to pay inflated prices to watch the singer's concert, noting organisers were happy to adopt the new system, despite the extra workload.

The spokeswoman said details for Yoshi's concert would be announced soon, including the performance venue and procedures for ticket sales.

Mirror has responded to calls by fans and authorities to help put a stop to scalpers exploiting the high demand for concert tickets.
PHOTO: Instagram/Mirror.weare

Scalping tickets for events at private venues that hold entertainment licences is considered a criminal offence under the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance. The penalty is limited to a fine of HK$2,000 for each offence.

But the existing law does not cover the resale of tickets for events at venues managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

In 2018, the Home Affairs Bureau explored a range of measures to combat scalpers, which included requiring buyers to use their real names for transactions and lowering the percentage of tickets allocated to business partners and subscribers.

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But both the entertainment industry and legislators expressed reservations about the proposals, warning that the verification process could be time-consuming and ticket holders could have privacy concerns.

In 2017, Canto-pop star Leon Lai Ming asked fans to submit their personal details to buy tickets to his outdoor performance at the harbourfront in Central.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.