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Taylor Swift fans sue Ticketmaster

More than two dozen Taylor Swift fans are suing Ticketmaster owner Live Nation for “unlawful conduct”, alleging fraud, misrepresentation and antitrust violations over the controversial presale for the singer’s 2023 stadium tour.

Swift shifted a record 2.4 million tickets for her AEG-promoted 52-date The Eras Tour in a single day last month, but the sale was marred by reports of “significant service failures” and lengthy delays on Ticketmaster’s website.

Ticketmaster went on to cancel the scheduled general sale, citing “extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand” and issued a public apology to Swift and her fans.

Now, as part of a new lawsuit filed with the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles, the company is accused of “anticompetitive conduct… to impose higher prices on music concert attendees in the presale, sale and resale market”.

“Defendant’s anticompetitive behaviour has substantially harmed and will continue to substantially harm Taylor Swift fans,” says the 33-page filing on behalf of 26 plaintiffs.

“Global investment and financial services firm Citi last week upgraded its outlook for Live Nation”

The lawsuit is seeking $2,500 for each violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law. Jennifer Kinder, attorney for one of the complainants, tells the Washington Post that around 150 fans have expressed interest in being added to the suit since it was filed on Friday (2 December).

“They messed with the wrong fan base,” says Kinder.

The Eras Tour experienced “historically unprecedented demand” as 3.5m people pre-registered for Swift’s Verified Fan presale, 1.5m of whom were later invited to participate in the onsale. However, the Ticketmaster site struggled to cope with the traffic after being swamped by bot attacks. Seatgeek (which took on $238m in private equity investment in August) experienced similar technical issues ticketing five of the Swift dates.

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee announced last month that a US Senate antitrust panel would look into a “lack of competition in ticketing markets”, in response to the cancelled onsale. However, global investment and financial services firm Citi last week upgraded its outlook for Live Nation, saying it was unlikely to be split up as a result of the panel.

Live Nation has not responded to the lawsuit, but previously addressed competition concerns in a lengthy statement.

“Live Nation takes its responsibilities under the antitrust laws seriously and does not engage in behaviours that could justify antitrust litigation, let alone orders that would require it to alter fundamental business practices,” it said.

 


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Rallying call for Festicket creditors

Promoters owed money by collapsed festival package company Festicket are being urged to contact administrators ahead of Friday’s (2 December) deadline.

The London-headquartered event discovery and booking platform had debts of more than £22.5 million when it went bust in September. Six firms were each owed in excess of £1m, with a further 20-plus creditors owed six-figure sums, according to documents filed with Companies House.

Administrator ReSolve Advisory said previously that despite several promoters being under the impression the cash from their ticket sales would be ringfenced by Festicket, that does not appear to have happened.

“We have received communication from a number of promoter creditors who are asserting that the net realisations from their ticket sales were to be held in trust for them by the company,” it said. “Our understanding is that the company did not segregate or ringfence any assets for the benefit of specific parties.”

At the request of administrators, the Insolvency and Companies Court has ordered that any creditor asserting that its monies were held on trust by Festicket should notify administrators of its “trust claim” along with an estimate of its value by no later than 4pm on 2 December. Following an initial meeting on 17 November, a second directions hearing is expected to take place at the London court on 9 December.

“If you were led to believe the money from the sale of your events was to be held on trust by Festicket then you must notify the administrators by the aforementioned deadline”

A letter circulated around the industry, seen by IQ, puts the number of promoters owed money by Festicket as “at least” 105, “some of whom are asserting trust claims whilst others are suggesting they are simply creditors”.

“If you were led to believe the money from the sale of your events was to be held on trust by Festicket (or any of its other trading names) then you must notify the administrators by the aforementioned deadline,” it adds. “Any such respondent must also notify the administrators if you intend to attend the second directions hearing and whether you intend to oppose or support the main application.

“Please provide any such information to [email protected] as soon as possible and in any event by the deadline.”

Any promoter wishing to join current and potential future litigation is advised to email [email protected]

Founded in 2012 by Zack Sabban, Jerome Elfassy and Jonathan Youne, Festicket also ran offices in the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, France and Australia. The company, which acquired Event Genius and Ticket Arena in 2019, recorded losses of approximately £11.3 million and £8m in the 2019 and 2020 financial years, respectively.

US-based ticketing exchange Lyte acquired Festicket and Event Genius assets for £100,000 in September and pledged to protect Festicket employees and find “ways to reconcile and rebuild with affected promoter clients”.

 


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Italian Supreme Court backs TicketOne appeal

The Italian Supreme Administrative Court (CdS) has ruled in favour of TicketOne in its appeal against a €10.9 million fine for alleged abuses of its dominant market position.

The original 2021 ruling by the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) had previously been dismissed and the fine annulled by a Lazio court in March this year.

It followed an investigation into the market leader’s parent company CTS Eventim and related to complaints by venue operator Zed Entertainment, which accused TicketOne of “an abusive strategy of an exclusionary nature” involving complex deals, contracts and acquisitions.

The dispute first became public in 2019 when a handful of Italian promoters, led by Zed’s Valeria Arzenton, alleged unfair competition on the part of Eventim-owned Friends and Partners (F&P).

“The CdS found that the ICA had in fact failed to examine sufficiently the applicants’ defence of the existence of a lawful purpose pursued by the acquisitions”

Arzenton accused CTS Eventim/F&P of trying to strong-arm promoters and artists into ticketing contracts with TicketOne at the expense of non-Eventim operators – a claim strenuously denied by CTS Eventim, TicketOne, F&P and sister companies D’Alessandro e Galli, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti.

According to the CdS, reports Lexology, the contested practices – in particular the acquisitions and related exclusivity clauses — “may plausibly be objectively justified” and do not necessarily result in an unlawful restriction.

“The CdS found that the ICA had in fact failed to examine sufficiently the applicants’ defence of the existence of a lawful purpose pursued by the acquisitions,” it adds.

However, last month’s judgement suggests the matter is not yet closed.

“The CdS confirmed that the retaliatory conduct and boycotts implemented against other operators such as Zed, may in fact constitute abuses of dominance requiring further investigations by the ICA and possible revision of the fine initially imposed on CTS Eventim – Ticketone,” it adds.

 


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40+ smartphones stolen during DJ Snake India gig

More than 40 “high end” mobile phones were stolen from revellers during a performance by French producer DJ Snake in Mumbai, India.

Police have made a series of arrests after examining CCTV footage from the “jam-packed” concert, which took place last night (27 November) at the MMRDA Grounds in the Bandra-Kurla Complex.

According to Times Now, backpacks, handbags and other baggage were not allowed inside the venue, and concert-goers were allowed to enter only after verifying their ID cards.

The Hindustan Times reports that six people were taken in for questioning and 15 phones were recovered.

“Three accused are in our custody. The case is currently under investigation and we are probing them further”

“Three accused are in our custody,” says Dikshit Gedam, deputy commissioner of police, zone 8. “The case is currently under investigation and we are probing them further. We are using all technical help to solve the case and make arrests.”

The concert was part of DJ Snake’s India tour, which also took in cities such as Ahmedabad, Delhi NCR, Hyderabad Pune and Bengaluru.

Real name William Sami Étienne Grigahcine, the artist is also set to perform at the Soundstorm Festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 1 December, followed by shows in Indonesia and Thailand.

Last month, Netherlands police arrested a suspect caught with dozens of phones thought to have been stolen from the Amsterdam Music Festival at the Johan Cruijff Arena on 22 October.

 


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ILMC 35 announces Latin America focus

The 35th edition of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) will have a unique focus on the Latin American market, supported by many of the region’s top companies and professionals.

“With huge audiences, record attendances, and homegrown talent now topping international box office charts, the Latin market is exploding right now,” reads a statement from the organisers. “And in March 2023, ILMC will see many of the market’s key players on hand to meet, network, and discuss.”

Under the banner Latin Live 2023, the programme at ILMC 35 will include dedicated conference debate and Q&As, a networking and information area, a Meet & Greet Happy Hour, and unique content relating to the region published in ILMC’s conference guide, with more to be announced.

Additionally, this year’s ILMC Gala Dinner will take place as the ILMC Gala Fiesta & Arturo Awards, taking delegates on a journey to the Caribbean and the home of reggaeton for the industry’s best-loved awards evening.

Latin Live is supported by Loud & Live, Grand Move, and Ocesa.

ILMC Spa & Last Resort will welcome over 1,200 of the world’s top live music professionals from over 40 countries to the recently upgraded Royal Lancaster Hotel in London from 28 Feb – 3 March 2023.

Full information about the conference is at 35.ilmc.com.

 


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Australian fest insurance dispute goes to court

A dispute between insurer Lloyd’s and Australia’s Subsonic relating to the festival’s 2019 cancellation has gone to court.

Event organiser Scott Commens is suing Lloyd’s for A$900,000 (€581,000) after the insurer argued the 5,000-cap electronic music festival, set for Riverwood Downs, near Monkerai, could still have proceeded despite the Black Summer bushfires raging in the area.

The Advocate reports that Lloyd’s stands by its decision not to pay out, with the company’s barrister Mark Newton pointing to the venue taking other bookings in the month that Subsonic was due to have been held.

“There was a variety of reasons why the landowner decided the event could not take place,” added Newton, who said the major issue was a question of fact about the “policy trigger” for the cancellation.

“It was a pretty dire circumstance”

According to documents previously filed with the federal court, Commens claims the December 2019 cancellation was necessary due to the extreme weather threat.

Stephen Walsh, representing Commens at a case management hearing earlier this month, said his client was seeking compensation for expenses incurred that had been calculated in a forensic accountant’s report.

Adjourning the case to February, on a date to be confirmed, Chief Justice James Allsop described the 2019/20 bushfires – which claimed 34 lives – as some of the “worst in living memory”. “It was a pretty dire circumstance,” he added.

 


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Five arrested over Hong Kong concert tragedy

Five arrests have been made in connection with the horror incident that saw a giant video screen fall on two dancers during a concert by Cantopop boy band Mirror.

Mo Lee Kai-yin was critically injured in the incident at Hong Kong Coliseum on 28 July, while Chang Tsz-fung also required hospital treatment, with the release of an official report into the causes by the authorities thought to be imminent.

However, the South China Morning Post now reports that five suspects aged between 40 and 63 were arrested in a series of dawn raids after police officers found some equipment was up to seven times the weight declared.

According to police, eight sets of speakers on the stage weighed about seven times more than principal contractor Engineering Impact Limited’s reported weight of 1,600lbs, while six LED screens weighed a total of 9,852lbs – 63% more than was reported.

“There were lots of factors that caused the accident, and the numerous underreported weights could just be one of the causes”

“There were lots of factors that caused the accident, and the numerous underreported weights could just be one of the causes,” says Supt Alan Chung of the Kowloon West regional crime unit.

Chung has accused Engineering Impact of deliberately underreporting the weight of the stage equipment in an attempt to speed up the government approval process. He adds that the investigation also indicated that Engineering Impact and subcontractor Hip Hing Loong did not take measures to ensure the mechanical devices and cables met safety requirements.

Those arrested included staff members from both contractors, reveals a Post source.

The performance was part of a planned 12-concert run by the 12-member boy band, who formed in 2018. The remaining shows in the series were cancelled.

Mirror’s management MakerVille and show organiser Music Nation hired an independent third-party expert to look into the incident and have pledged to release further details after the results of the official investigation are released.

“We chose to hire teams considered top-notch in the industry, not cheaper, non-first-tier ones,” the companies said in a statement last month. “Cost was not our primary consideration.”

 


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Italian government to criminalise unlicensed raves

Italy’s new prime minister Giorgia Meloni has moved to criminalise the staging of illegal raves.

Organisers of unlicensed parties of more than 50 people “that pose a risk to public health, safety or order”, could face between three and six years in jail under a new law of “invasion for dangerous gatherings”, drawn up by the far-right government.

It comes after around 1,000 ravers, who had travelled from as far away as Belgium and France, were ordered to leave a 48-hour warehouse rave in Modena yesterday (31 October) following noise complaints.

“We have shown that the state won’t turn a blind eye and fail to act when faced with law-breaking”

“We have shown that the state won’t turn a blind eye and fail to act when faced with law-breaking,” says Meloni, speaking at a press conference, as per Reuters. “The impression that the Italian state has given in recent years is one of being lax when it comes to respecting the rules and the law.”

The BBC reports that the previous national unity government had already begun work on changing the law after a 2021 rave in Viterbo ended in two deaths. But the new administration’s draft law also includes big fines, the possibility of wiretapping perpetrators and the confiscation of sound equipment.

The government has also responded to criticism as to why it had targeted raves while ignoring a fascist march by 2,000 people in Predappio, birthplace of Benito Mussolini, over the weekend.

Interior minister Matteo Piantedosi claims the two events were “completely different things” as the Mussolini march had not disrupted public order, whereas the Modena rave was reported by the warehouse owner.

 


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First Astroworld lawsuit settlements reached

The first wrongful death lawsuit settlements have been reached over last year’s Astroworld festival tragedy.

Axel Acosta, 21, and Brianna Rodriguez, 16, were among 10 concertgoers who were killed after a crowd surge during Travis Scott’s headline at the 50,000-cap festival in Houston, Texas last November, promoted by Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary. All of those who died suffered from compression asphyxia.

Announcing the claims brought by Acosta’s family against organisers have now been settled,” lawyer Tony Buzbee of the Buzbee Law Firm says: “Axel Acosta was a beloved son, brother, and student. He was kind and loving. He is greatly missed. Please keep his family in your prayers.”

In addition, court records show that Rodriguez’s family settled their lawsuit in July, although settlement terms have not been disclosed in either case.

Scott’s spokesperson Ted Anastasiou says that no member of the rapper’s legal team has participated in any settlement discussions

“Brianna Rodriguez was deeply loved and is terribly missed by her parents, her entire and extended family, her friends, and by her peers at Heights High School,” says a statement from Robin Blanchette and Troy Williams, attorneys for Rodriguez’s family. “Brianna’s memory will forever live within those whose lives she touched and through the nonprofit organisation, Dancing Through Bri, which has been created to provide scholarships to college-bound dancers and athletes.”

According to USA Today, Scott’s spokesperson Ted Anastasiou says that no member of the rapper’s legal team has participated in any settlement discussions. Live Nation is yet to comment.

Almost 5,000 people have claimed they were injured in the disaster, which unfolded on 5 November 2021. Earlier this year, the go-ahead was given for hundreds of Astroworld lawsuits to be formally consolidated into a single case.

 


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Welcome to the spa & last resort: ILMC 35 launches

The International Live Music Conference (ILMC) has unveiled a new concept and a new five-star location for its 2023 edition, expanding both programming and delegate numbers.

ILMC Spa & Last Resort will welcome over 1,200 of the world’s top live music professionals from over 40 countries to the recently upgraded Royal Lancaster Hotel in London from 28 Feb – 3 March 2023.

The move, which is in response to increasing demand for the industry-leading event, marks the first venue change for ILMC in more than 20 years. The Royal Lancaster will provide extra space for networking, private meetings and events, all in a first-class, newly revamped environment.

“We’re introducing a raft of new elements in 2023, including a series of roundtable working lunches, additional conference sessions, and some very special new features we’ll be announcing in the coming weeks that will be a first for ILMC,” says conference head Greg Parmley.

The Arthur Awards – the Oscars of the international live music business – will also take place during the ILMC week on 2 March.

The awards, which see thousands of votes compiled from around the world, are presented in front of 400 guests and the ceremony will be compered once again by Emma Banks, co-head of CAA’s London office.

“We’re introducing a raft of new elements in 2023, including a series of roundtable working lunches”

In addition to the main ILMC schedule, 3 March sees the return of Futures Forum, the one-day discussion and networking event for the next generation of live music industry leaders. Created and shaped by young professionals, Futures Forum mixes connected discussions with immersive workshops, peer-to-peer networking and TED-style ‘Soapbox’ presentations.

And 28 Feb sees the 15th edition of the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI) take place. The day brings together leaders and innovators in the global live sector to network and accelerate discussions around environmental and social best practice and is organised by A Greener Festival (AGF), in partnership with ILMC.

Companies and partners supporting the 35th edition of ILMC include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, ASM Global, CTS Eventim, Tysers, DEAG Entertainment Group, Showsec and Universe.

The 2022 edition of ILMC welcomed speakers including artists Nile Rogers and Brian Eno, Casey Wasserman (Wasserman), Phil Bowdery (Live Nation), Maria May (CAA), Marie Lindqvist (ASM Global), Lucy Dickins (WME) and John Giddings (Solo Agency).

Full information about the conference, which this year is inviting delegates to attend the ILMC Spa & Last Resort for the live sector’s annual health check, is at 35.ilmc.com.

 


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