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UTA makes two new hires, 13 promotions

United Talent Agency (UTA) has made two new hires and promoted 13 junior employees to full agents.

Mary Petro, formerly of Columbia Artists Management, and Ryan Soroka, the co-founder with Brad Wiseman and Equal Vision Records of the boutique Soroka Agency, both join UTA’s New York office. Soroka, who brings with him acts including Against the Current, Flor, Our Last Night, Hands Like Houses and David Garibaldi, will work in UTA’s clubs division, while Petro will be part of the adult contemporary/performing artists centres division.

The promotions include Ryan Edmundson, Joe Fucigna and Parrish McKittrick in New York, Emilio Grijalva, Zach Hyde, Chad Lehner, Darius Sabet and David Winther in Los Angeles, JD McCorkle in Nashville, Sarah Chipon, Stefanie Purificati and Rob Thornton in Toronto and Alice Hogg in London.

“We are proud to have a corporate culture that values mentorship, collaboration and home-grown talent”

“We are proud to have a corporate culture that values mentorship, collaboration and home-grown talent,” says Neil Warnock, UTA’s head of worldwide music. “Our newly promoted and newly hired agents have a remarkable understanding of the market, of our roster and of our industry in general, which will enable them to excel in creating opportunities for our clients.”

Warnock was previously president of London-based The Agency Group, the world’s largest independent music booking agency, which UTA acquired last August.

 


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Vendini acquires Charged.fm, launches live SBU

Vendini, a San Francisco-based provider of ticketing and marketing solutions for live events, has hired industry veteran Mark Meyerson to head up a new strategic business unit (SBU) “hyperfocused” on the live music business.

Meyerson (pictured), formerly general manager of ticketing firm CrowdTorch, which Vendini acquired in December, is tasked with selling Vendini’s technology into music venues and festivals across North America, allowing them to “sell more tickets, improve event promotion, gain deeper customer insight, manage patrons and more”, says the company.

Prior to joining CrowdTorch, Meyerson, Vendini’s new general manager and vice-president of live music, served spells at Ticketmaster, AEG Live and Bill Graham Presents, among others.

“We’re incredibly excited to have formed this SBU, and we’ve already begun making moves in the live music industry. We have the solutions music venues need and they’re not getting anywhere else”

The launch of the new SBU comes around two weeks after the acquisition by Vendini of Charged.fm, a Brooklyn-based primary and secondary seller of tickets for music, theatre, comedy and sporting events.

“We’re incredibly excited to have formed this strategic business unit, and we’ve already begun making moves in the live music industry,” says Meyerson. “We have the solutions live music venues need and they’re not getting anywhere else. We’re giving them the ammunition and attention they need to operate with the same efficiency and effectiveness as a massive arena.

“Vendini is ready to grow and innovate aggressively. Forming the music business unit allows us to hyperfocus on live music while taking advantage of the overall support structure and product development teams we have built in the overall business. I get to manage a team of all stars who have risen to the top from the core business and our two acquisitions of Inticketing and CrowdTorch.”

 


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Rapino hails new partners as TM posts 14% growth

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino has highlighted Ticketmaster’s embrace of new distribution channels as being key to its 14% growth in the second quarter (Q2) of 2016, in which it increased global gross transaction value (GTV) to US$5.7 billion.

In Live Nation’s Q2 earnings conference call, held from 22.00–23.00 GMT (17.00–18.00 EST) last night, Rapino told investors and press that, “through the deployment of APIs [application program interfaces] with key partners such as Facebook” – through which Ticketmaster began selling its inventory in April – “BandsinTown and Broadway.com, along with traditional distribution partners such as Groupon, we increased sales by 30% in the first half to more than five million tickets”, and said the company sees “these and other distribution partners, including teams and artists, as a key way to extend our reach and continue selling more tickets powered by Ticketmaster”.

Following the trend seen in Live Nation’s 2015 year-end and Q1 2016 results, secondary ticketing also remained strong, delivering GTV growth of over 20% for the ninth consecutive quarter to over $300 million – up 49% on this time last year – with Rapino also drawing attention to the Ticketmaster’s move towards “super-serve specialised vertical segments”, such as Front Gate for festivals and TicketWeb for smaller clubs, which grew by 31% and 12%, respectively.

“Through the deployment of APIs with key partners such as Facebook, BandsinTown and Broadway.com, we increased sales by 30% to more than five million tickets”

Elsewhere in the Live Nation group, revenue was up 26% from concerts – “through mid-July we have sold over 50 million tickets for our concerts that take place this year, pacing 17% ahead of this point last year,” explained Rapino – and 17% from its sponsorship/advertising business, with “roughly 50 sponsors” expected to spend over $1m this year, an increase of 18%.

Rapino also took time to praise Live Nation’s recent acquisitions – Governors Ball festival in New York, Parklife festival in London and the Palais Theatre in Melbourne – and the company’s improvements in the “on-site fan experience”, which delivered a $2-per-fan net increase in revenue at Live Nation amphitheatres.

“After our strong performance in the first half of the year, we expect 2016 to be another year of growth and record results for the company,” concluded Rapino. “Based on our leading indicators in concerts, sponsorship and advertising and ticketing, we expect revenue and AOI [adjusted operating income] growth in each of these businesses and overall for Live Nation this year.”

 


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LN signs Snapchat deal for festival Live Stories

Live Nation has announced it will partner with Snapchat this summer to package footage from four of its European festivals as ‘Live Stories’ on the popular video-sharing app. The company first partnered with Snapchat in 2014 for EDC Vegas.

Snapchat will cover Way Out West, V Festival, Creamfields and Reading and Leeds Festivals as Live Stories – or compilations of photos and videos from people using the app at specific events – in August. In June, Live Nation rival AEG agreed a similar Snapchat deal to do the same at Stagecoach, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Hangout, FYF Fest and Panorama.

“Thousands of special festival moments are captured at our events, and Snapchat’s Live Stories will bring these together for everyone to experience”

A spokeswoman for Live Nation confirmed to IQ that Snapchat will sell targeted advertising around the app, allowing festival sponsors to reach app-using attendees directly, but also tapping in to anyone who views the Live Story regardless of whether they attended the event or not.

“Some of our best summer festivals will now be covered from every angle by music fans themselves,” says Paul Latham, COO of Live Nation UK and Ireland. “Thousands of special festival moments are captured at our events, and Snapchat’s Live Stories will bring these together for everyone to experience – from fellow festivalgoers to fans across the globe.”

Snapchat has over 150 million active users, including an estimated 60% of 13- to 34-year-old Americans, with Live Stories watched by an estimated 10–20m Snapchatters daily.

 


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Power failure forces last-minute Obonjan delay

Obonjan Riviera, the company behind a six-week music and ‘wellness’ festival due to kick off today on the tiny Croatian island of Obonjan, has pushed back the start of the event until at least 3 August due to a lack of power or running water.

The festival – billed as the “perfect summer holiday with a festival twist” – made the announcement in the early hours of this morning, advising that it would help “everyone confirmed to stay with us for the opening week” to “seek alternative arrangements and process refunds as quickly as possible”.

The island (pictured), which is a mile long and 500 yards wide, has no permanent population. The lease was bought last year by Dan Blackledge, the creator of Croatia’s Hideout and Unknown festivals, who founded Obonjan Riveria and announced plans to, in partnership with the Croatian state, turn Obonjan into a music, arts, culture and ‘wellbeing’ destination for holidaymakers, primarily British.

Festivalgoers who had already paid for flights – or are already in Croatia – are, predictably, angry: Writing on Twitter, Charlotte Graham said her “holiday plans [are] ruined 12 hours before departure”, while Alex Stannard commented: “I am actually livid! Travelled to Sibenik this morning to be stranded here to have just seen an email saying it’s cancelled” (although she later praised organisers, saying they “helped us in every way they could”).

“We have had to take the difficult decision to postpone today’s opening until at least 3 August, as the island is currently without running water or electricity”

Roy Ayers, DJ Shadow and Akala are among those booked to perform when the festival does eventually get underway.

In an interview with The Guardian in March, Blackledge said Obonjan is “an evolution of the festival idea with all the things you love in one place in a beautiful natural setting. There’s an emphasis on wellbeing and ecology, and we want to encourage a real feeling of community – people can stay for as long as they like. I don’t want to say it’s the first of its kind, but I haven’t come across anything quite like it.”

The first Croatia Music Event conference, held in London in June, recognised the growing popularity of Croatia as a festival destination but said high travel prices and a lack of options for accommodation are hurting its prospects.

 


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IFF announces new partners and first delegates

With exactly two months to go until it opens its doors to 500+ invited festival and agency delegates, the International Festival Forum (IFF) has unveiled three new event partners and released an up-to-date delegate list for the 2016 event.

Joining Rock it Cargo, Eventbrite and Showsec as an Associate Partner at the invitation-only event will be Live Nation, the world’s leading entertainment company. Other new partners are RFID and access control specialists Intellitix who’ll be powering the registration area of the event. And festival transport service specialist Fanzone, which will support one of the lunches.

Some the latest delegates confirmed to be attending (a full list, which will be constantly updated, is available here) are Robert Meijerink (Eurosonic Noorderslag), Martin Elbourne (Glastonbury Festival), Chris Tofu (Continental Drifts/Shangri Las), Michael Simon and Zlata Holusova (Colours of Ostrava), Hamed Shahi (SSC Music Group GmbH), Ahmet Ulug (Pozitif), Ide Koffeman (Down The Rabbit Hole), Grímur Atlason (Iceland Airwaves), Folkert Koopmans & StephanThanscheidt (FKP Scorpio) Juha Kyyrö (Fullsteam), Roel Vergauwen Herman Schueremans (Rock Werchter / Live Nation Belgium), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions), and Christian Diekmann (DEAG Deusche Entertainment AG).

New IFF 2016 partners are Live Nation, the world’s leading entertainment company; cashless payment, RFID access control and brand activation tool provider Intellitix; and festival transport specialist Fanzone

The conference has also released details of a new panel, ‘The Artists: View from the Stage’, set for 11.30–12.30 on Wednesday 28 September and chaired by IQ writer Eamonn Forde.

“There’s nothing quite like a bit of constructive feedback, and with so many future headliners in town for IFF, who better to give it than those taking the festival stage?” reads the blurb. “Before their showcase later that day, we’ll be inviting a selection of artists to share their experiences of both attending and performing at festivals to date. What is it that matters the most when playing a festival? What sets a festival apart from an artist’s point of view? And as audience members, what are festivals doing right, or wrong, and how could they improve?”

A provisional IFF schedule can be viewed here.

Produced by ILMC, the invitation-only event for booking agents and festival promoters/bookers takes place across two London venues, Proud Camden and next door’s Dingwalls, on 28 and 29 September. Participating agencies include UTA, X-ray Touring, CAA, WME, Coda, Primary Talent, ATC Live, ITB, LPO and Pitch & Smith.

To register to attend, visit www.iff.rocks/register.

 


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Pandora to recommend concerts via Ticketfly

Pandora is to begin pushing concert tickets to its listeners, as the cash-strapped internet radio/streaming service seeks to use its purchase of Ticketfly to generate new revenue.

In an announcement yesterday, Pandora – which, it was revealed last week, recently turned down a US$3.4 billion offer to be acquired by Liberty Media, which owns a 34% share in Live Nation – said it will begin integrating “hyper-personalised concert recommendations” into its app and sending its 78.1m users a digest of nearby shows based on their listening habits. Users will then be directed to Ticketfly to buy tickets.

“Pandora is redefining the music experience, and that includes live events,” says Tim Westergren, Pandora’s founder and CEO. “There’s nothing like the magic of a live show, and there’s nothing worse than missing your favourite band because you didn’t know they were in town. Pandora and Ticketfly are solving that with personalised and effortless access to live, local events.”

“There’s nothing worse than missing your favourite band because you didn’t know they were in town. Pandora and Ticketfly are solving that with personalised and effortless access to live, local events”

Pandora acquired independent ticket outlet Ticketfly in October for $450m. Under Pandora ownership, the company has this year lured The Bowery Presents’ New York venues the Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge away from Ticketmaster and the Riviera, Vic and Park West in Chicago from Etix.

Ted Cohen, a managing partner at tech consultancy TAG Strategic, tells Fortune the move towards concert discovery could provide “a significant and much-needed diversification of [Pandora’s] revenue streams”. The company has yet to turn a profit since floating in 2011, and posted a net loss of $76.3m in Q2 2016.

 


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Eventbrite targets club sector with new hires

Barak Schurr and Diego Carlin, the former president and CEO, respectively, of recently sold US nightclub ticketer Wantickets, have joined Eventbrite.

They are joined by Senthil Chidambaram, founder and CEO of EDM news website Dancing Astronaut, as the event management and discovery platform plots further expansion into ticketing for dance music venues/nightclubs.

“We’re excited to further our commitment within the dance music market and extend our proven success in dance music festivals to nightclubs and venues,” says Greg Patterson, Eventbrite’s director of music and live events.

“We’re excited to further our commitment within the dance music market and extend our proven success in dance music festivals to nightclubs and venues”

“Barak, Diego, and Senthil share Eventbrite’s passion for live experiences and an aligned interest in helping nightclubs and venues run their event business as smoothly as possible. We look forward to marrying their deep industry knowledge with our global leadership in event technology to better serve this important and fast-growing part of the music ecosystem.”

Wantickets was acquired by live music streaming service LiveXLive last week.

 


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SFX considering legal action against Sillerman

The new management of SFX Entertainment – believed to be led by two senior creditors, investment firms Allianz and Axar Capital Management – has signalled its intention to bring charges against the company’s former directors, including ex-CEO Robert FX Sillerman.

In new documents, filed in the Delaware bankruptcy court yesterday, outlining an alternative post-bankruptcy plan for the dance music promotion group following the axing last month of its previous restructuring support agreement (RSA), SFX (‘the debtors’) says it may seek damages for “breaches of fiduciary duty by former directors and officers of the debtors, and avoidance actions, such as fraudulent transfer claims under federal and state law”.

The alleged violations of fiduciary duty – defined in Delaware as the duty of loyalty by people controlling a company to look to after its interests, not their own – relate to Sillerman’s repeated failed attempts to take the company private, and include “breaches of SIC’s [Sillerman Investment Company III’s] commitment to purchase series-A preferred stock, the two failed merger offers and other general breaches of fiduciary duty relating to insider transactions and funding issues”.

The new leadership may seek damages for “breaches of fiduciary duty by former directors and officers of the debtors”

SFX’s new leadership may also seek to recover “amounts reimbursed to Sillerman” during the bankruptcy process, as well as “licensing fees, employee compensation, a cash collateral release [and] certain settlement payments” and “the termination fee the company paid in connection with the termination of the merger agreement”, which relates to a failed 26 May 2015 merger between SFX Entertainment and two other companies forming part of Sillerman’s labyrinthine EDM empire, SFXE Acquisition LLC and SFXE Merger Sub, Inc.

The revised post-bankruptcy plan will go before US bankruptcy judge Mary F. Walrath for approval on 30 August. Randy Phillips, the former CEO of AEG Live, is expected to be named chief executive of the new-look SFX.

 


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Songkick poaches Shazam director for biz dev

Artist-ticketing and concert discovery service Songkick has added to its business development staff with the hire of Nick Fishbaugh, previously senior director of global music partnerships at Shazam.

Fishbaugh will join the London-based company’s US west coast office in Los Angeles.

Prior to working at Shazam, whose app – one of the most popular in the world – uses a smartphone or computer microphone to identify a song being played and then links to it on streaming services and digital music stores, Fishbaugh was an artist manager at Pat Magnarella Management and The Collective in California.

“This has been a monumental year for Songkick, and with the addition of Nick we’re able to connect with more incredible artists around the world and further enhance the live experience”

He will now be responsible for expanding Songkick’s reach worldwide, including partnerships with new artists.

“This has been a monumental year for Songkick, and with the addition of Nick we’re able to connect with more incredible artists around the world and further enhance the live experience,” says Matt Jones, who has been Songkick’s sole CEO since January. “We’re witnessing a tremendous year of growth across our platform, and as we continue to work with more artists and remain a transparent, pioneering technology partner, we’re paving the way for additional announcements to come.”

Songkick’s “monumental year” so far includes becoming an associate member of the MMF and continuing to battle Ticketmaster/Live Nation in the California courts.

 


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