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Live music: officially better than sex

Live Nation has released the findings of the Power of Live, a survey of more than 20,000 music fans which reveals, among other things, that for 71% of people concerts are the moments that “give them the most life” – and that the average fan prefers going to a show to having sex.

The study, conducted in partnership with research agency Culture Co-op, found that, “in today’s digital age, live music is more necessary than ever and creates the ultimate human connection”. It reveals trends and behaviours of 22,500 live music fans, from 11 countries and ranging in age from 13 to 65.

According to Live Nation, the report’s key themes are:

In today’s fractured world, live music is more important as a unifying force than ever before
When asked what defines them most as a person, respondents said music drives identity more than their hometown, politics, race or religion. The only things that are a bigger force than music are friends/family and pastimes.

Live music is in high demand
The study reported two thirds of generation X, Y and Z (spanning ages 13–49) go to at least one concert or festival a year, with a majority of those that attend going to multiple events. Live Nation sees this growing demand reflected in the sheer number of fans coming out to concerts and festivals, with event attendance jumping to 86 million in 2017, a 21% increase from the prior year.

Live music facilitates bonding and instantly increases your mood
Proven through a biometric experiment that studied fans in their element at a live concert, nearly 70% of participants showed significant synchronisation of body movements which served as a proxy for oxytocin, the hormone that facilitates bonding and human connection. And the feeling is lasting – even after the encore, participants had a mood increase of [five times] compared to how they felt before the show.

“Respondents reported that they were 10% more likely to value live music over sex”

Live music creates more intense emotions than streaming music, and many value it more than sex
When asked to reflect upon a recent live music experience, and rate how emotionally intense they felt, 78% of respondents reported they felt high emotional intensity. Other live events and media experiences didn’t stack up: respondents reported feeling less emotionally intense while streaming music (-27%) or while playing video games (-31%). And respondents reported that they were 10% more likely to value live music over sex.

The emotional intensity of live music opens the mind to new ideas
Sixty-seven per cent of global audiences say the more emotionally engaged they are, the more open they are to new ideas. In fact, 90% said brands are welcome in the space as long as they find authentic ways to enhance their experience.

Live music fans are cultural catalysts
Globally, concertgoers are 29% more affluent, four times more likely to be micro-influencers (defined as having at least 1,000 followers on social channels) and are +121% more likely to say they are highly influential among peers.

Other facts include:

Read the Power of Live in full at https://www.livenationsponsorship.com/international.


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AEG pushes into south-east Asia with new arenas

AEG is to make its first major investment in south-east Asia with two new music and entertainment venues in Thai capital Bangkok.

In partnership with retail developer the Mall Group, AEG will invest more than ฿10 billion (US$309m) into two arenas, dubbed Bangkok Arena and EM Live, each of which will anchor an entertainment ‘district’, a model seen in other AEG-led developments such as Brisbane Live in Australia,  The O2 in London, LA Live in Los Angeles, Mercedes Platz in Berlin and Nashville Yards in Tennessee.

EM Live will have a capacity of over 6,000, and be the centre of a retail and entertainment centre in Sukhumvit called the Emsphere, while the up-to-16,000-seat Bangkok Arena will be located in a new Bangkok Mall, described as a “city within the city”.

“These two significant developments will be a game-changer”

AEG will manage and operate both arenas, and work with the Mall Group to programme and market events including concerts, family shows, sports and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions). Recent AEG-promoted shows in Asia include Justin Bieber, Celine Dion, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Metallica and the Rolling Stones.

“South-east Asia is going through a transformation,” comments Adam Wilkes, president and CEO of AEG Asia. “As incomes rise and spending power increases, consumers in the region are demanding more sophisticated entertainment experiences. In the Mall Group, we have not only found an outstanding partner but also an innovative company that is led by an insightful and forward-thinking leader, Khun Supaluck. […]

“These two significant developments will be a game-changer, giving Bangkok and Thailand the opportunity to become the most important retail and entertainment hub in south-east Asia.”


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Hardee warns of biz burnout as report reveals huge stress levels

Coda Agency partner Alex Hardee today warned of the dangers of a “24/7” working culture across much of the live music business, as a new report reveals more than three quarters of UK promoters and venue bosses may be struggling with continuous stress and anxiety.

Speaking during his keynote at the International Festival Forum in London, Hardee, a self-confessed “workaholic”, told interviewer Paul Crockford: “It’s too late for me – I’m fucked. I’m a workaholic. It’s shit ­– it’s unhealthy and I can’t get out of it.”

Hardee’s comments – a rare sober moment in an otherwise entertaining and ebullient interview, set to appear online in the coming days – come as ticket agency Skiddle releases new data which shows many UK execs are struggling with “astronomical” levels of stress on a daily basis.

“I’d like the generation that comes after me to look after themselves,” Hardee continued. “The music industry has got it completely wrong, and that [24/7 working culture] is why you see a lot of people fall over and break down. You need to have breaks, and people work better when they have breaks and they’re well rested.”

“That 24/7 working culture is why you see a lot of people fall over and break down”

A survey of more than 500 promoters, events organisers and venue owners found that 82% of industry professionals have suffered with stress, 67% said they had anxiety and 40% said they had struggled with depression. Additionally, one in ten have developed associated symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as a “direct result of their work in music”.

Some 65% of promoters said they frequently felt an “intense and unmanageable level of pressure”, while almost half (47%) said their work in the music industry often led to a constant feeling of anxiety and sadness.

“After running a festival for a couple of years, the workload this year ended up depressing me to a level that I had suicidal thoughts and thoughts of self harm,” says one, speaking under the condition of anonymity. “A couple of months later I had panic attacks when thinking about starting the process again, and decided to go on hiatus instead.”

Another says: “It’s the loneliness and isolation that scares me. Anxiety and stress are just part and parcel of the job. It’s sad but true.”

Asked what causes them the most stress working in promoting, 45% said “no regular income” and 43% the “lack of support”, with unsociable hours and the effect the job has on relationships also scoring highly.

“The results of this survey do not make for an easy read”

Commenting on the results of the survey, Ben Sebborn, co-founder and director of Skiddle, comments: “The results of this survey do not make for an easy read, and it’s troubling to see that so many promoters are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing. Skiddle have been working alongside independent and large-scale promoters for nearly two decades and fully appreciate how difficult the job can be.

“As well as organising a series of panel sessions to discuss the issues raised in the survey, we will also be working with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) and the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) to ensure we are industry leaders in supporting promoters and offering them the assistance they need to work happily and effectively.”

BAPAM director Claire Cordeaux adds: “It’s well evidenced that mental health problems are considerably higher in the performing artist community than in the general population, and the industry is increasingly recognising the need for support. Skiddle’s survey of promoters, one of the first of its kind, is a timely reminder that it is not just performers that need help.”

See Skiddle’s findings in full in the infographic below:

Skiddle mental health infographic


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AEG acquires leading US indie PromoWest

AEG Presents has acquired leading US independent promoter PromoWest Productions.

Columbus, Ohio-based PromoWest, founded by Scott Stienecker in 1983, is the largest independent concert business in the American Midwest, and formerly one of the US’s most prominent remaining indie promoters.

PromoWest runs Express Live! (2,300-cap. indoor/5,200-cap. outdoor) in Columbus and Stage AE (2,400-cap. indoor/5,500-cap. outdoor) in Pittsburgh, and books and operates Columbus’s Newport Music Hall, the Basement and A&R Music and owns Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati.

The acquisition comes a year after AEG’s buy-out of the Agora Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio, and five months after rival Live Nation bought an independent regional promoter of its own, Texas’s ScoreMore Shows.

“After getting to know AEG Presents and their senior management, it became more and more clear to me that both of our organisations were built from a common entrepreneurial spirit and culture. I am certain this partnership is right for PromoWest and AEG Presents is truly the right fit for us,” comments Stienecker, who will run PromoWest as a division of AEG.

“Scott and his team have built an incredibly respected organisation with a proven track record of success”

“I believe our partnership with AEG Presents will provide us an additional collection of resources and assets that will allow us to continue to build on our achievements and take our company to an even higher level.”

Shawn Trell, executive vice-president and COO of AEG Presents, adds: “PromoWest and AEG Presents share a passion and commitment to delivering the best music experiences to fans. Scott and his team have built an incredibly respected organisation with a proven track record of success and we are pleased that they chose to partner with us.

“We look forward to working closely with them to continue to deliver first class concert experiences and further grow the PromoWest brand.”

Upcoming PromoWest shows include Parliament-Funkadelic (Stage AE), St Lucia (Newport Music Hall), Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats (Express Live!), Django Django (Newport Music Hall), Years and Years (Stage AE) and Owl City (Express Live!).


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Creditor RG offers £1.1m for Bestival Group

Richmond Group, a company controlled by British loans tycoon James Benamor, has offered £1.1 million to rescue Bestival and Camp Bestival from administration.

It was revealed earlier this week that Benamor had filed notices at the High Court in London of his intention to appoint administrators to three companies behind the events, Bestival Group Ltd, Bestival Ltd and Camp Bestival Ltd. Another company owned by Benamor, Richmond Debt Capital, extended a £1.6m loan to Bestival and took charge of several festival “assets” in February 2017.

A statement from Richmond Group (RG) announcing the bid confirms the family friendly Camp Bestival 2019, for which tickets are already on sale, will go ahead as planned, although no mention is made of Bestival. IQ has sought clarification as to the future of the flagship event.

“Richmond Group has today made an offer of £1.1m to purchase the brand and assets of Bestival Group, with the intention of running the successful Camp Bestival going forward,” says a spokesperson for the company. “Under this offer, all Camp Bestival 2019 tickets sold so far will be honoured.”

“We have been fans and supporters of Bestival since the beginning. Our children have grown up with wonderful memories of these festivals,” adds Benamor.

“Bestival is an example of Dorset being world class and we are keen to ensure that this fantastic institution goes on to delight families and local businesses, for many years to come.”

This story will be updated.

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AEG, Osbournes both claim victory as lawsuit ends

Lawyers for Ozzy Osbourne have agreed to drop their lawsuit against AEG after the US venues giant ended its ‘Staples Center Commitment’ tying booking between Staples Center in LA and the O2 in London.

The long-running ‘booking war’ between AEG and Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) reached its conclusion earlier this month after Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, confirmed the company is no longer block booking its LA Staples Center and London O2 venues.

The Black Sabbath frontman had previously sued over the policy, which the suit said was a “explicit”, “brazen” violation of US competition (‘antitrust’) law.

Welcoming the end of the legal action, AEG says in a statement: “This dismissal with prejudice is a victory for AEG. We were fully prepared to see the case through to vindicate our policy, but now that Osbourne has decided to dismiss with prejudice, the case is over.

“Our policy was an appropriate, lawful and effective competitive response to Irving Azoff’s pressure tactics seeking to force artists into the Forum [by requiring them to also play Madison Square Garden]. If those tactics resurface, we will redeploy our policy as needed.

“It is no surprise that once AEG refused to back down, Azoff, MSG and Live Nation became eager to drop the case as soon as possible”

“The Osbourne suit was instigated by Azoff and paid for by MSG and Live Nation. It was hatched on the back of an artist who we believe had no idea what he was biting off. The suit was a transparent public-relations ploy that failed to pressure AEG into backing down from a booking policy that was an effective competitive response to the MSG–Forum tie.

“It is no surprise that once AEG refused to back down, Azoff, MSG and Live Nation became eager to drop the case as soon as possible. They dismissed the case with prejudice after realising AEG would aggressively defend it, costing them tens of millions of dollars and posing a source of embarrassment once their questionable tactics were exposed in the course of discovery and trial.”

Unsurprisingly, and in characteristically outspoken style, Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy’s wife, soon offered a rebuttal of the AEG line and instead claimed victory for Osbourne/Azoff/MSG.

A full statement, sent to Rolling Stone, reads: “We know Mr. Anshultz [sic] (aka “Daddy Big Bucks”) is living in his billionaire bubble, but the fact is that Ozzy sued AEG for the right to perform at the O2 in London. We won the case and Ozzy’s show at the O2 went on sale on September 5 for a show next year (February 11, 2019)–so in my world that means we won the case. Ozzy is playing the O2 without having to play the Staples Center, which is all that mattered to us. From the start of this dialogue in February, this has been a battle about respect for the artists and their personal preferences. It wasn’t then and isn’t now a battle between promoters, which is how this is being portrayed by the recent statement from AEG claiming this as a “victory.”

“To say this suit was ‘instigated by Azoff and paid for by MSG and Live Nation’ … is untrue and disrespectful to Ozzy, myself and the entire team”

“To say that this “suit was instigated by Azoff and paid for by MSG and Live Nation,” and that “it was hatched on the back of an artist who we believe had no idea what he was biting off,” is untrue and disrespectful to Ozzy, myself and the entire team working on this tour. Whatever differences you have with Irving Azoff, don’t presume you know who instigated the lawsuit or you know anything about Ozzy Osbourne, because you obviously don’t know anything about Ozzy’s history or mine. So stop with your hubbildy, bubbuldy BULLSHIT and your little pissing contest with Live Nation and MSG.

“Regarding the allegations in the AEG statement that this “suit was a transparent public relations ploy,” if that was indeed the case, why then did AEG rush out a statement of victory? While we, throughout this process, until now have only made one statement around the initial filing.

“Ozzy’s preference was to perform at The Forum, a venue that has been a part of his music history for more than 46 years. From the start, this was not a battle solely for Ozzy, as much as one for other artists who were being forced to abide by these rules and regulations. Let’s not all forget why you’re here … the artists.

“The only thing remotely interesting in your statement was your pitiful attempt at humor with your quote that Ozzy “had no idea what he was biting off.” If you’re interested, Ozzy and I have got something nice for you [to] bite on … our assholes … see ya loser!”

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ICMP appoints new director-general

The International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP) appointed John Phelan as director-general, effective 1 October. He succeeds Coco Carmona.

The announcement was made public during ICMP’s Central and Eastern European Music Publishers’ Congress in Bucharest.

Irishman Phelan comes to ICMP with a background encompassing law, conservatoire training and several years as a professional musician. He has also worked extensively in EU digital policy, including IP regulation, before spending the past three years at recorded music trade body IFPI.

“I am delighted to be given this opportunity and look forward to serving ICMP’s music publisher members worldwide”

“On behalf of the ICMP Board, I would like to thank Coco for her significant contribution to the confederation and I wish her all the very best in her future endeavours,” says ICMP chair Chris Butler. “John has impressive music industry credentials through his work at IFPI, and I have no doubt that he will play a key role in advancing the interests of music publishers across the globe.”

Adds Phelan: “I am delighted to be given this opportunity and look forward to serving ICMP’s music publisher members worldwide. Copyright rules, market trends and the means of engagement with music are continually evolving. In the last week alone, both Europe and the US have addressed separate issues of major importance for online music.

“ICMP will be at the forefront of this evolution and we are keen to meet all the attendant challenges head on.”


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New signings & rising stars (Sep–Oct 2018)

Fontaines DC (Ie)

Agent: Sarah Besnard, ATC Live

Fontaines DC met as a quintet in Dublin, where, influenced and driven in equal measure by the rich history of their hometown’s counterculture, their response has been to make concise and immediately authentic indie-punk that has done anything but fall on deaf ears.

Following the release of a handful of singles in the past year, the band has played a number of shows across Europe, the Republic of Ireland and the UK, supporting the likes of the Horrors and Idles, as well as playing festival slots at the Great Escape, Off Festival, Primavera Pro, Electric Picnic and Cabaret Vert.

Fontaines DC’s debut album is expected to be out early 2019, via Partisan Records. In the meantime, they will be touring the UK this autumn with Shame.


John J. Presley

John J. Presley (UK)

Agent: Amber McKenzie, ITB

John J. Presley grew up in Birmingham and, after some years in London, now resides in Brighton. With two hugely successful singles and an EP under his belt, he is gearing up for the release of his debut album this year, which is coming out through BMG and AWAL.

With his first few releases, Presley gained an army of fans – his first radio play coming from Zane Lowe as his ‘Next Hype’ track, with follow-up support from radio DJs Phil Taggart, Alice Levine, John Kennedy, Tom Robinson and hitting the Radio X, Virgin and Amazing Radio playlists.

The Guardian, Independent and Times have also noticed his work, which has helped catapult his reputation across the Channel to Europe where he’s also found support on national radio stations and huge festival billings.


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Trailblazer: Becky Stewart, Cambridge Folk Festival

Welcome to the latest edition of Trailblazers – IQ’s regular series of Q&As with the inspirational figures forging their own paths in the global concert business.

From people working in challenging conditions or markets to those simply bringing a fresh perspective to the music world, Trailblazers aims to spotlight unique individuals from all walks of life who are making a mark in one of the world’s most competitive industries. Read the previous Trailblazers interview, with WME’s Sam Kirby Yoh, here.

In the hot seat this time is Becky Stewart, operations director for the UK’s long-running Cambridge Folk Festival, which celebrated its 54th anniversary last month with a bumper bill topped by big-name headliners Patti Smith and First Aid Kit.

Here, she speaks on her journey from adolescent morris dancer to running Britain’s best-known folk music event; the challenges of competing with moneyed corporate festivals; and why she’s proud to lead a mostly female team in a male-dominated world…


How did you get your start in the industry?
Well, I blame my parents, really. They took me to my first folk festival, which was Warwick, when I was about six years old, and then we spent every summer from there after dancing – yes, morris dancing. At around 17 I worked out I could get a ticket for free if I volunteered, but it would take a few more years till the worlds collided and I got to start doing the fun stuff.

I worked artist liaison at Shepley and Beautiful Days, then I stage-managed at Towersey for about five years. In ‘real life’ I ran a pub, then started working in the events world. There isn’t one single point I can say that was my start – I just kind of ended up here. The first year I came to Cambridge I knew I wanted to work here, though. Never thought I’d end up running it.

Tell us about your current role.
I am operations manager, which in the simplest terms means I make it all fit together. I make sure everyone from staff to artists have all the information they need to do their job; I manage the booking and contracting of all artists, staff, caterers, traders; and I programme and book the fringe performances, street theatre, morris teams, workshops and sessions. Other things we look after include merch, site art, transport, accommodation and anything else you can think of.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
So long as most people have a nice time, I’m happy. That includes audience, staff and performers.

And the most challenging?
I take things very personally. If we get a complaint, especially about something that that person probably has no idea about, it annoys me. I try not to let things wind me up but they do.

Also budget restrictions –they upset me massively!

“At our core is the want to be a musicians’ festival, giving a platform to the best in the business”

What achievements are you most proud of?
This! I am apparently responsible and grown-up enough to be in charge of Cambridge Folk Festival. It still blows my mind. It’s great.

How has the business changed since you started out?
In some ways, not at all. In others, massively. In my case, folk music has a very interesting way of flowing in and out of mainstream music. Cambridge very much sits in a bubble between mainstream music and the smaller folk festivals, and I think that transfers to how we run as well.

We have lead the way in innovations in terms of how to run a site environmentally. We have a 50/50 gender split on our bill, as well as on our crew; we have a female sound tech, the majority of our crew heads are women and the core team are predominantly female. There are still things that we, and the industry, need to get better at.

At our core is the want to be a musicians’ festival, giving a platform to the best in the business – we’re not about bells and whistles.

“We need to be better at looking after ourselves and each other”

What, if anything, could the music industry do better?
We are an independent festival and we, along with many others, are getting priced out of the market by the bigger agency-run festivals.

Gender balance is a big thing. We’re super-proud to say we’ve got it pretty good at the moment, but we’re always looking to be better.

Look after everyone at bit better: we talk about mental health in the music industry, but it’s about life in general, really. We live in a world that is too fast for us to keep up with, and I think we all feel that at some point. We need to be better at looking after ourselves and each other.

What advice would you give to someone hoping to make it in music?
Work, take opportunities, volunteer at everything, take in everything around you. Learn skills – knowledge of what sound and lighting techs do, even if you don’t want to do it, for example.

And if you want to go to uni, do something with a skill attached. I’d much rather employ someone with a proven work record than a degree.


If you’d like to take part in a future Trailblazers interview, or nominate someone else for inclusion, email IQ’s news editor, Jon Chapple, on [email protected].

TM promises review as TradeDesk lawsuits mount

Ticketmaster is facing multiple class-action lawsuits and a grilling by US senators as the fall-out from last week’s Toronto Star report continues.

The world’s largest ticket seller was accused by the Star, which conducted a joint investigation with CBC News, of enabling professional resellers to bulk-buy primary inventory and then sell it on the secondary market using its TradeDesk platform, with the covert approval of Ticketmaster employees. The company described the allegations as “categorically untrue”, denying it has “any program[me] in place to enable resellers to acquire large volumes of tickets at the expense of consumers”.

According to the Star, Canada’s Merchant Law Group – which announced in January it is suing Ticketmaster/Live Nation over alleged ‘drip fees’ levied on tickets – is now expanding the suit to include the TradeDesk allegations, while south of the border Hagens Berman is also inviting affected consumers to join a class action seeking damages over what it calls “Ticketmaster’s TradeDesk scalping scheme”.

US senators Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal – chairman and ranking member of the US Senate commerce subcommittee on consumer protection, product safety, insurance and data security, respectively – are also seeking answers from Ticketmaster, writing to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino for clarification on the “serious” allegations made in the piece.

“Allegations of the harms to consumers made in this piece are serious and deserve immediate attention”

“CBC News reported that Ticketmaster […] recruits and employs professional ticket scalpers to circumvent the ticket purchasing limits on its own primary ticket sales platform in an effort to expand its ticket resale division,” the senators write. “According to the article, Ticketmaster utilizes [sic] a professional reseller program called TradeDesk, which provides a web-based inventory for scalpers to effectively purchase large quantities of tickets from Ticketmaster’s primary ticket sales website and resell these tickets for higher prices on its own resale platform.”

“Citing examples of TradeDesk users moving up to several million tickets per year, the allegations of the harms to consumers made in this piece are serious and deserve immediate attention,” they add.

Moran and Blumenthal have given Rapino a deadline of 5pm on 5 October to respond.

In a statement issued yesterday, Ticketmaster North America president Jared Smith again denied claims the company “has a secret programme to collude with scalpers at the expense of fans”, saying reports to the contrary are based on a “limited understanding of a Ticketmaster product called TradeDesk”.

“Let me be absolutely clear and definitive that Ticketmaster does not have, and has never had, any programme or product that helps professional resellers gain an advantage to buy tickets ahead of fans. Period,” says Smith (pictured). “We would never make anything like that, which would go against the very core of who we are and what we do. And that’s simply not what TradeDesk is.”

“Ticketmaster has never had any programme or product that helps professional resellers gain an advantage to buy tickets ahead of fans”

He continues: “TradeDesk is Ticketmaster’s version of an inventory management tool for professional ticket resellers (brokers). It is neither secret nor unique to Ticketmaster. Like StubHub’s product called Ticket Utils or Vivid Seat’s Skybox, TradeDesk is used by brokers to manage tickets they already have. All of these tools organise a broker’s ticket inventory so the tickets can be priced and listed for sale on various ticket marketplaces, not just on Ticketmaster as was suggested. These tickets could have come from Ticketmaster, from other ticketing systems or could have been purchased directly from a team, a venue or another reseller. TradeDesk is overwhelmingly used to manage season tickets for sporting events.

“TradeDesk is not a scheme to help Ticketmaster sell tickets twice. In fact, less than 4% of the concert tickets we sell each year are listed and sold again on Ticketmaster. What does make TradeDesk unique, however, is that it offers an integration with Ticketmaster for validating tickets that are uploaded to it. As a result, our integrated marketplace is fundamentally different than all the others – safer, more transparent and where each resale ticket is clearly identified and required to be 100% verified before ever being listed for sale.

“We are aware that many people don’t believe we should be working with ticket brokers at all. But as long as there is a massive disconnect between supply and demand in live event tickets, there is going to be a secondary market. Choosing not to participate would simply push resale back to those who care less than we do about artists and fans. The reality is, engaging brokers with a safer version of tools they could get from many other ticketing companies reduces fraud across the overall ticket market.”

Smith adds that Ticketmaster is “now in the process of reviewing all of our Ticketmaster accounts and expanding our review process to ensure all customers are in compliance with our terms of service”, which set out a limit on the number of tickets that can be purchased by any person, as well as prohibiting the creation of multiple accounts to get round the restrictions.


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