Popular Barcelona festival Primavera Sound has become the first major music festival to completely ditch paper tickets in favor of mobile-only ticketing, as reported by the BBC. It’s partnered with digital ticketing platform Dice, which will service Primavera Sound and all other Primavera events, like Primavera tours and the club night Nitsa at Sala Apolo, in Barcelona, starting in 2020.
The hope is that using Dice will curtail ticket scalping, as the platform locks every ticket purchase directly to your phone. Dice has also taken a lot of other steps to minimize scalping where possible. Tickets bought on Dice can’t be resold on other sites, but they can be transferred between devices if, say, you bought one for a friend, but the other party must also have a Dice account. And, Dice allows for ticket refunds, with returned tickets going to other users who signed up for the event’s waiting list.
Additionally, the ticket’s QR code is hidden until two hours before the event. If you’ve lost your phone, broken it, or otherwise don’t have access to the Dice app, you can still get into an event. Show an official ID at the venue and your name will be on a door list.
Dice has been used at bigger events — as CNET points out, it provided tickets for two Adele concerts along with the Apple Music Festival in 2016. By and large, it’s been received well, although it faced criticism last year when the company admitted to hiding booking fees in ticket prices. The app still sells tickets at a price that bundles in this fee without making it apparent to the user. This often makes Dice tickets seem more expensive than at competing vendors, but in most cases the price winds up being about the same or sometimes cheaper once competitor checkout fees are added. This “what you see is what you get” pricing is explained in their help section, but could still be more transparent for first-time users.
Ticket scalping has only grown more sophisticated in recent years, as the buying process has become saturated by automated bot software that snatches away seats from fans the moment shows go on sale. In the US, The Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act was passed in 2016, making it illegal for brokers to use software that bypasses systems put in place to limit the number of tickets an individual can buy. Other companies, like Twickets, are tackling the problem by moderating a marketplace that allows fans to resell unwanted tickets, with prices capped at face value. Then there’s Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program, which some users have called “confusing and vague,” but which still illustrates that even the biggest ticket brokers are acknowledging the problem.
The lineup for Primavera Sound 2020 has not yet been announced, but it will be held in Barcelona between June 4th and 6th. The festival attracted over 220,000 people last year, with headliners like Solange, James Blake, FKA Twigs, and Janelle Monáe.