Our Mark has been selling gig and festival tickets from his base in Nottingham for almost 25 years. We caught up with him to find out more about sneaking into Glastonbury and ticket touts...
First things first, how do you say Gigantic?
Gigantic is a play on words. We’re named after the track by The Pixies. I pronounce it like that, but the play on words is Gig-an-tic. Customers and promoters often debate how to pronounce it. I used to be precious about it, but after ten good years it’s just good to be spoken about.
How did you first start out in ticketing?
I founded Gigantic back in 2007. Prior to that, I worked at Way Ahead Tickets for fourteen years, which later became See Tickets. I was ready for a change of scenery, but wanted to stay in ticketing, so I started this up.
How have festivals and festival ticketing changed over the years?
I remember going to the Our Price on Listergate and buying a Glastonbury ticket for cash a week before the festival. It wasn’t the sell-out that it is now, which probably made it a more enjoyable festival. The first year I went to Glasto I snuck in by hiding in the back of a van. Now of course, you need photo ID, and it’s arguably the hottest festival ticket around. These days, for many festivals, we immediately deliver eTickets which the customer presents at the gate to be scanned in by our venue entry software. This offers the organisers real-time stats on how many people have entered the festival.
Is there ever a good reason to buy a ticket from a tout?
No. I would strongly advise against it. One of the saddest things about working at festivals is having to deal with customers who purchased bogus tickets online from a tout who’s told them to collect it from the box office, when no such ticket exists. There’s no provision to allow them into the festival and they end up being turned away.
You’ve been a big supporter of Nottingham’s Hockley Hustle festival. What are your thoughts on seeing that resurrected and grow?
Hockley Hustle is a vitally important part of Nottingham’s cultural calendar. It provides a platform to showcase the breadth and vibrancy of the city’s venues and music scene. It also offers new students a great introduction to what we’re all about. We’re looking forward to working with Hockley Hustle over the coming years. We’re also proud to act as a sponsor of the Waterfront Festival, another vital platform for local acts.
See Tickets and Alt Tickets are based in Notts, too. Are we at the epicentre of UK gig ticketing?
Nottingham is probably second only to London. See Tickets directly evolved from Way Ahead, and Gigantic indirectly came from that route too. The biggest event Way Ahead sold for was Oasis at Knebworth back in 1996. There were 250,000 tickets to sell in the days before online ticket sales, and they all had to be sold by telephone or in person. The morning the tickets went on sale, the demand took down the whole city’s phone exchange.
What are your top tips for festival-goers this summer?
There are a huge number of festivals now, both in the UK and in Europe, so research the market before booking. A lot of people book for the same festival year on year. There are advantages to this, certainly in terms of familiarity, but the market is vast and there to be explored, so going to the same festival every year seems like a waste to me.
Gigantic’s 10th Birthday with Kagoule and special guests, Angel Microbrewery, Friday 5 May.
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