The Guild does not generally offer business advice regarding self-production; however, we understand that many of DG members self-produce their work. As such, we wanted to inform our members of an ongoing issue with the popular ticketing platform, Brown Paper Tickets.
Recently, a member reached out to the Guild informing us that they had not received their ticket sales revenue from Brown Paper Tickets nearly two months after their self-produced production had closed and that their repeated follow-ups have been met with the same automated e-mail response.
Upon further research, our Business Affairs teams discovered that the Washington State Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Brown Paper Tickets in September 2020, after receiving hundreds of complaints from consumers all over the country about similar conduct. The lawsuit claimed that the company engaged in unfair and deceptive acts in violation of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act and owed approximately $6 million to event organizers and $760,000 to ticket buyers nationwide.
In March 2021, Brown Paper Tickets voluntarily entered into an agreement with the Washington State’s Attorney General’s Office, agreeing to make all payments owed to event organizers for completed events and issue full refunds to any ticket buyers by October 8, 2021. However, according to a report issued by the Seattle Times on October 14, 2021, Brown Paper Tickets failed to meet the deadline set by the consent decree, with the Attorney General’s Office quoted as saying “the vast majority of Washington state consumers have been paid – but thousands around the country ... are still waiting.”
It should be noted that the report by the Seattle Times includes a statement issued by the Brown Paper Tickets attorney acknowledging this failure and claiming that “though [they] are behind schedule, the team at Brown Paper Tickets…remains dedicated to this process.” However, as recently reported by ABC7 News in Seattle, Brown Paper Tickets has continued to withhold payment from event organizers, even for events which occurred after the settlement with the Attorney General’s Office.
Those of you who may be directly affected by this issue may want to contact private counsel as soon as possible to understand your rights.