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Adele says hello to tech that's tough on ticket resellers

The hot-selling pop singer teams with Songkick to squelch efforts by bulk buyers to gouge eager fans.

Adele is trying to remedy the problem of online ticket resellers with tech.
Adele/VEVo screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Singer-songwriter Adele is on a hot streak following the launch of her latest album, "25."

First she smashed the record for the most albums sold in a week. Then in partnership with ticket site Songkick, she bashed the business of ticket resellers.

To get hold of Adele tickets for shows across Europe, fans had to preregister on the singer's website. After that, Songkick's software weeded out a number of known and suspected resellers who would otherwise buy tickets in bulk and then offer them at a stiff markup.

"We are happy to see low levels of activity on secondary markets for these much-anticipated events," said a Songkick spokesman in a statement.

It wasn't all smooth sailing. A bug with the site's payment system caused some security concerns for an unknown number of users. When they reached the checkout stage, they were able to see the contents of other people's baskets, including their names and addresses.

Songkick, which was responsible for selling 40 percent of tickets directly to fans, apologized for the mishap and offered assurances that any problems were minimal. "At no time," the spokesman said, "was anyone able to access another person's password, nor their payment or credit card details (which are not retained by Songkick)."

Like fellow artists Thom Yorke and Taylor Swift, Adele doesn't think much of music streaming, and doesn't agree with ticket reselling either. The Internet has empowered ticket resellers to expand their businesses of bulk-buying tickets at face value and they reselling them online at extortionate prices to desperate fans. It's a practice that effectively allows middlemen to stop tickets from getting directly into the hands of fans, while profiting off artists' popularity.

Songkick believes the issue needs to be addressed through a combination of technology, such as the kind it deploys to hunt for resellers, and legislation that makes it easier to identify and cancel tickets in their possession. Without legislative support, it will be tricky to cancel out resales altogether, the company said.

British music site Music Ally has conducted a preliminary search at secondary ticketing sites. It found that the average number of tickets being resold on each site for UK gigs was 54 for Adele's shops compared to 2,939 for Coldplay concerts and 1,548 for Rihanna shows, both of which went on sale last week. The math isn't exact -- it doesn't, for instance, take into account the size of the venues each artist is playing -- but does lend some credence to Songkick's claims.

Songkick, meanwhile, offered up some encouraging numbers of its own.

"This morning, Songkick sold 57,000 tickets to fans, with less than 2 percent of these tickets making their way onto resale markets by mid afternoon," said the spokesman on Wednesday. "Compared to other events, we believe these efforts helped to reduce resale by well over 50 percent."