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Australian court dismisses Viagogo appeal

Australia’s full federal court has dismissed an appeal by Viagogo against a ruling that the secondary ticketing platform had made misleading claims on its website relating to the reselling of concert and sports tickets.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) instigated legal proceedings against the company in 2017, alleging it had “made false or misleading representations, and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, regarding the price of tickets on its online platform by failing to disclose substantial fees”.

The federal court ruled in favour of the watchdog’s allegations in 2019, finding Viagogo in breach of consumer law, with Justice Stephen Burley noting its conduct was deliberate and that some of its misleading claims were made “on an industrial scale”.

The full court has now upheld the findings along with the AUS$7 million penalty imposed for the breaches of the Australian Consumer Law.

“This case was about bad behaviour by an international ticket reseller”

“This case was about bad behaviour by an international ticket reseller that deliberately misled thousands of Australian consumers about the price they would have to pay for tickets and falsely represented that those consumers were purchasing tickets from an official site,” says ACCC commissioner Liza Carver.

The full court upheld the finding made in 2019 that Viagogo had falsely represented that it was the ‘official’ seller of tickets to particular events. It also upheld the finding made by the primary judge that from 1 May 2017 to 26 June 2017, Viagogo’s website drew consumers in with a headline price but failed to sufficiently disclose additional fees or specify a single price for tickets, including a 27.6% booking fee which applied to most tickets.

“Businesses must clearly disclose if they charge additional, unavoidable fees on top of the advertised price”

“Viagogo misled music lovers, sporting fans and other consumers who were hoping to get tickets to a special event. Consumers were drawn in by a headline price and were often unaware of the significant fees charged by Viagogo until very late in the booking process when they were already invested in attending the event,” says Carver.

The full federal court stated that “had Viagogo made it clear that it was operating a ticket resale site, then there would have been no misapprehension by consumers”.

“Businesses must clearly disclose if they charge additional, unavoidable fees on top of the advertised price,” adds Carver.

The court also upheld previous orders made against Viagogo in relation to a compliance programme, publication orders and an injunction.

A spokesperson for Viagogo says: “Viagogo is disappointed with the federal court’s ruling, but we remain committed to continuing to provide choice for consumers to access tickets and attend events.

“The ruling concerns language used in some advertisements and the form of the Viagogo website around five years ago. It does not reflect our current ticketing platform and the many changes we have made to provide greater transparency for our customers.”

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2022: Submissions now open

Submissions are now open for the LGBTIQ+ List 2022 – IQ Magazine‘s second annual celebration of queer pioneers in the international live music business.

Launched last year as part of IQ Magazine’s first-ever Pride edition, the list highlights and profiles lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer professionals contributing to, improving, or making an impact in the international live entertainment business.

Anyone who works in the global live music industry can put themselves forward, or be nominated by friends or colleagues.

Anyone who works in the global live music industry can put themselves forward, or be nominated by friends or colleagues

The final list will be decided from nominations, alongside an invited steering committee made up of individuals from key companies across the business and last year’s LGBTIQ+ List.

Finalists from last year will not be eligible for the LGBTIQ+ List 2022, in order to give others a chance to fly the flag. A full list of last year’s 20 outstanding queer professionals can be found here.

To submit yourself or someone you know for the LGBTIQ+ List 2022, email Pride editor Lisa Henderson with details of your nomination, and the reason why they should be on the list.

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 8 June, giving you three full weeks to spread the word.

 


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Danish festivals report strong resurgence

Ticket sales for many festivals in Denmark this summer are on a par with pre-Covid levels, according to promoters.

Events including Roskilde Festival, Smukfest and Copenhell are already sold out, with a number of others reporting near sell-outs.

Dansk Live adds that ticket sales are also booming at Northside and Tinderbox, with both on course to break their previous records.

“In terms of sales, both festivals are going great,” says Pernille Høll, head of marketing at Down the Drain, which runs the two festivals. “Northside gets its second or best year in history. Tinderbox gets its best.”

“It is extremely nice to see that the audience is once again looking for the community around live music”

Elsewhere, Jelling Music Festival is also on track for an impressive comeback.

“We can clearly see that people are really looking forward to getting on the grass again,” says co-founder and manager Lars Charlie Mortensen. “We see this clearly in ticket sales. People buy all kinds of tickets at the moment – both day tickets and for the whole festival, and we expect to get a full house.”

Dansk Live’s head of secretariat Esben Marcher is delighted with how the market is rebounding.

“We can only interpret the high sales figures as meaning that the audience still loves live music,” he says. “After some hard years for all live organisers, it is extremely nice to see that the audience is once again looking for the community around live music.”

“It is unfortunately no surprise that the younger target groups are not yet fully involved”

While Nibe Festival manager Peter Møller Madsen reports similarly strong sales, he observes that teenagers have been slower to buy tickets than in the pre-pandemic era – a trend he attributes to the two-year break.

“They have not inherited the tradition,” he says. “However, we believe that they will probably come, so we are very confident.”

Marcher adds: “Although overall ticket sales at the Danish festivals are doing well, it is unfortunately no surprise that the younger target groups are not yet fully involved. We have been without the great festival experiences for two years, and thus there are two new vintages who have not yet been to a festival, and thus may not be so eager to get tickets. However, that trend will hopefully improve over time.”

 


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New Bosses name one thing industry must change

Alumni from IQ Magazine‘s most recent class of New Bosses have identified areas of improvement for the international live music business.

A handful of the next-gen leaders shared their thoughts during Meet the New Bosses: The Class of 2021, at last month’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Theo Quiblier, head of concerts at Two Gentlemen in Switzerland, believes the one thing the industry needs to get better at is normalising failure.

“We are in a fantastic industry where everyone is signing the new top artist or selling out venues or sealing huge deals with festivals but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “I feel that we’re all a bit afraid of saying, ‘I went on sale with my favourite band and it didn’t go well’ – as simple as that.

“I feel that we’re all a bit afraid of saying, ‘I went on sale with my favourite band and it didn’t go well'”

“As a promoter, I could say, ‘Oh, I work with this top band,’ and people think, ‘That’s amazing, he must be rich,’ and, in reality, it’s your biggest loss of the year. We need little reality checks, and to say ‘I’m doing my best but I’m not the best’. Sharing insecurities is great because failure happens to everybody.”

Flo Noseda-Littler, agency assistant at Wasserman Music (formerly Paradigm UK), called for better pay for junior staff so more people can viably start their careers in the industry.

“Fair salaries for junior staff and internships so that it enables people in those positions to live in the cities in which they work,” comments Noseda-Littler. “By providing a free internship or a low paid job, you’re cutting off so many people who don’t have the ability to still live with their parents or be subsidised by their parents. And then you’re just reducing the number of people you can recruit and missing out on potentially really ambitious and amazing people.”

Anna Parry, partnerships manager at the O2 in London, echoed Noseda-Littler’s thoughts, adding that companies also need to improve their recruitment strategies in order to reach a more diverse pool of talent.

“This is a job that costs you a lot of time at your desk and a lot of time in your head”

“Companies really need to put more effort into understanding why people aren’t applying for these jobs, and then they need to create a lower barrier of entry for those types of people,” says Parry. “It’s not just saying, ‘Oh okay, well we posted the job on a different forum than we usually would’. It’s going to take a lot more of that to actually make a difference. We need to focus on that because it’s important our industry is representative of the artists we represent.”

Age Versluis (promoter at Friendly Fire in the Netherlands) on the other hand, is petitioning for a four-day workweek: “This is a job that costs you a lot of time at your desk and a lot of time in your head. Since Covid, we’re seeing a lot of people burning out and having trouble getting to that fourth or fifth gear.

“We forget that moving shows for two years to the same months is quite stressful. I think we could use some extra ‘me’ time.”

Tessie Lammle, agent at UTA in the US, echoed her peers’ points, adding: “I was going to say diversity or work-life balance but Theo’s point is huge. I think the younger generation is getting much better at [sharing insecurities].”

Each of the panellists appeared as part of IQ Magazine‘s New Bosses 2021, an annual list celebrating the brightest talent aged 30 and under in the international live music business. See the full list of the distinguished dozen here.

 


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ARTmania spearheads launch of job site for Ukrainians

European festivals ARTmania (Romania) and Pohoda (Slovakia) have teamed up with Music Export Ukraine to launch a pan-European job site that aims to help displaced Ukrainians from the live music industry find work in other countries.

The companies say that ARTery was launched as a reaction to the war in Ukraine but that the platform will also counter the effects of the staff shortage in Europe caused by Covid.

“We want to help [Ukrainians] resume their lives with dignity in other countries and give them a sense of normality by helping them to do what they’re trained to do,” Codruța Vulcu, festival director at ARTMania in Romania, previously told IQ.

“We want to help [Ukrainians] resume their lives with dignity in other countries”

“The aim is that these people don’t end up washing dishes in Berlin, for example, but that they can continue the work they’ve studied and prepared for – and all that added value will not get lost,” she says.

The platform officially launched on Saturday (7 May) and is already advertising jobs for ARTmania festival, Music Export Ukraine and European Music Exporters Exchange in Belgium.

Companies can post a job, while Ukrainian music representatives can register and create a profile in order to browse job offers and apply directly. Visit the ARTery website here.

 


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Live Nation hails biggest Q1 in company history

Live Nation boss Michael Rapino says the company’s Q1 business “greatly surpassed” expectations after delivering its best Q1 performance ever.

The promoter recorded operating income of $27 million and AOI of $209m for the first three months of the year, while its Ticketmaster division posted another record quarter, with big growth in operating revenue, AOI and transacted GTV compared with the last pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Sponsorship operating income and AOI were also up 83% and 75%, respectively, on three years ago.

“Artists are back on the road and fan demand has never been stronger”

“Momentum has picked up for all of our businesses over the course of the first quarter,” Rapino told investors during yesterday’s earnings call. “And as a result, we have delivered financial performance that greatly surpassed our previous expectations with AOI of $209 million.

“Artists are back on the road and fan demand has never been stronger. The reflection of live events remain a clear priority for consumers as our social lives restart.”

Ticketmaster reported sales of 70 million tickets for its 2022 concerts – up 36% compared to the same point in 2019, and Rapino said all leading indicators pointed towards double-digit growth and fan attendance for LN over the course of the year.

“Ticket sales were at record levels in Q1 with momentum building over February and March,” he said. “We sold almost 20 million more tickets to our concerts this year in this point in time in 2019, with large number of tours still to go on sale and concert fans are showing no sign of slowing down.

“Ticket buying serves as a leading indicator to our overall business. Ticketmaster’s strong first quarter performance drove the company’s overall profitability and shows how well our concert and sponsorship businesses are positioned to deliver record results this year.

“Despite some markets taking longer to reopen, the quarter was our second highest ever we transacted GTV, excluding refunds, trailing only Q4 2021 with March being our highest transacted GTV month ever.”

He added: “Our sponsorship activity fully returned in Q1, delivering financial results that well exceeded 2019. We’re seeing growth across a number of dimensions, expansion of existing relationships, new categories expanding our breadth to partners and new ad units being created both onsite and online.”

“We continue to build our flywheel with over 70 million tickets now sold for shows in 2022”

Rapino also referenced the firm’s partnerships with brands such as Verizon and Snap.

“Much of our focus with brand partners is how we collectively elevate the fan experience. We’ve had great success with this in recent years. And so far this year through our partnership with Verizon, we started powering our Venues with cutting edge 5G connectivity and are launching initiative with Snap to give artists augmented reality capabilities at shows and festivals.

“But more importantly, we continue to build our flywheel with over 70 million tickets now sold for shows in 2022, up to 36 million, compared to 2019 and committed show count is up 44% through the end of April, relative to 19%, setting us up for continued ticket sales over the year.

“We have over 60 tours already under discussion for 2023, our earliest indicators of next year in great positioning for ongoing growth.”

I continue to expect this just to be the start of our run”

Rapino said the no-show rate at gigs – a common complaint the first few months after the restart – had returned to normal levels.

“We’re seeing no challenges at all,” he said. “People are showing up to the shows. We are showing similar to 2018, ’19, your regular low digit no-show rate of people that don’t make it to the show. But back to normal, people come and drum to those shows no issues at all in terms of showing up.”

He added that while the US and UK had driven much of the company’s activity over the past year, the rest of the world was now rapidly opening up.

“Both Latin America and Western Europe are expected to have record attendance for our concerts this year,” he concluded. “I continue to expect this just to be the start of our run, the global addressable markets for concerts, ticketing and sponsorship, all provide a long runway for continued growth.”

 


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The Great Escape ramps up for ‘historic’ comeback

UK showcase festival and convention The Great Escape (TGE) will return to its in-person format for the first time in two years.

TGE 2022 is set to take place next week (11–14 May) in venues across the seaside city of Brighton, with around 3,500 music industry professionals in attendance.

This year’s edition will showcase 500 emerging artists from all over the world including Baby Queen, Muna, Lynks, Moa Moa, Let’s Eat Grandma and Cassyette.

Running alongside the showcases will be a three-strand conference jointly presented by CMU, which focuses on education, data and video.

“After a two-year absence due to Covid, The Great Escape has been straining at the leash to get back to Brighton to bring the best new music from around the world into the light,” says Rory Bett, CEO of TGE promoter MAMA Festivals.

“Artists have had the gift of time during covid to really engage with their creativity. The 500 stunning bands programmed across 60 indoor venues and outdoor spaces this year, will have some very special and surprising work to perform.”

“Our conference programme seeks to tackle the key issues and questions facing the industry and we will attempt to examine them thoroughly from many different and world authority perspectives. Discovery and networking are always at the heart of TGE and with the current sense of building excitement for the show, mixed with a weather forecast of 21 degrees and a sunny, we plan to come back with a Great Escape for the history books.”

The music + education conference will take place on the first day of the 2022 event, with music educators, music development organisations and the music industry coming together to discuss the best ways to nurture early-career music-makers on and off stage.

“[We’ve] has been straining at the leash to bring the best new music from around the world into the light”

Day two will see the music and data conference, which will put the spotlight on all the ways data now drives success in the music business – from ticketing to marketing and music discovery to streaming.

Finally, the music and video conference will give an overview of how video can be a revenue generator for artists, songwriters and the wider music industry.

CMU and TGE are also presenting a series of keynote in-conversations with guests including music PR legend Barbara Charone, who will be talking through the highlights and key moments of her career in the music industry ahead of the publication of her memoir ‘Access All Areas: A Backstage Pass Through 50 Years Of Music And Culture’.

MP and culture select committee member Kevin Brennan and musician and #BrokenRecord founder Tom Gray will also be in conversation.

Elsewhere, Ed Sheeran’s legal team will be discussing the recent headline-grabbing court battle over the star’s hit ‘Shape Of You’.

Organisers of the event also confirmed Ireland as lead country partner, Music Support as the charity partner and music school BIMM as the education partner.

Delegate passes for TGE are still available and can be bought here.

 


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ILMC 34: Inside ticketing’s new normal

International ticketing executives have given a mixed picture on live music markets around the world as the business bids to pick up where it left off pre-pandemic.

ILMC’s Ticketing: All change please! session heard from Ticketmaster UK’s Sarah Slater, Marcia Titley of Eventim Norway & Sweden, John Talbot of AXS Europe, Dice’s Amy Oldham and TicketSwap’s James Fleury, with Michael Hosking of Singapore-based Midas Promotions offering a promoter’s perspective.

Quizzed on the state of play by chair Richard Howle of The Ticket Factory, the panel reported contrasting fortunes to date.

“In Scandinavia, restrictions were lifted in December in Denmark, in January in Norway, and February in Sweden, so we’re about three, four months in,” noted Titley. “When the restrictions were lifted, ticket sales jumped, which was great, we were all thrilled. And then they kind of plateaued.”

“We’re making progress, but it’s slower than I think we all had hoped”

While observing a week-by-week improvement, she added that Covid has appeared to have triggered a change in purchasing habits, with a shift towards buying tickets later in the day.

“They’re waiting, and I think we can all understand why,” she said. “I think we’re all holding our breath a little bit wondering if some new variant’s going to pop up tomorrow. And shows aren’t selling out, so that sense of urgency isn’t there.

“One thing we’re starting to see in Scandinavia as well is uncertainty if shows and festivals are actually going to happen. Just recently, last week, one of our biggest festivals in Norway had to cancel because of Covid complications… So this has also affected consumer behaviour.

“Also, I think we’re trying to find ways to get people to go back to live. I think people have got a little bit stuck on their couches and we need to try to find a way to get them to remember what live was all about. If we can get them into the shows then we will be able to build up that kind of credibility in the market. We’re making progress, but it’s slower than I think we all had hoped.”

“One of the greatest impacts of Covid is it has made people, generally, quite lethargic”

Citing sold-out stadium shows by Justin Bieber in Singapore and Malaysia, Hosking stressed that demand was visible for certain artists, but returned to the theme of audience lethargy.

“The real test will be maybe the B and C-listers,” he offered. “I think one of the greatest impacts of Covid is it has made people, generally, quite lethargic. The old days of having to do everything immediately seems to have waned. And of course, Asia’s not one country, it is several countries and there are still very different restrictions about touring. But Justin is living proof that if the people want you bad enough they’ll go out and buy tickets.”

Talbot, who joined AXS last summer, said the business had faced an “existential threat” and attempted to put its travails into perspective.

“To use a hospitalisation analogy, we were hit by a truck and now we are in the recovery from that period, and it’s not going to happen overnight. We’ve got a cost of living crisis. People can see the alternatives to going out – because they were denied so long, they’ve got other options and they can entertain themselves in different ways.

“We do need to teach the market that going out, congregating, seeing live events is a really, really important part of our culture and they should come back to it. But those challenges are nowhere near as existential as what we were facing only a matter of months ago, so I think there’s a lot of reason to be very cheerful.”

“Half of our customer services activity at the moment is reuniting customers with the tickets they bought in 2019 and 2020”

He added: “We’re finding that a lot of our best customers are holding four or five tickets to shows that are yet to play off… So how do you sell to the market new events, when they’ve already got commitments, and sometimes they’ve forgotten that they’re holding these tickets?

“Half of our customer services activity at the moment is reuniting customers with the tickets they bought in 2019 and 2020. So when that clog disappears, as it will, I think that’s when we can really start to see new on sales not being buffeted by those market forces.”

Slater and Oldham suggested the state of affairs in the UK was more favourable across the board, in part, due to being able to press ahead with a partial festival season in 2021.

Slater, who received the Golden Ticketer gong at the 2022 Arthur Awards, pointed to Ticketmaster’s stellar business in the final quarter of last year.

“We were really able to capture that pent-up demand that the pandemic brought,” she said. “Q4 was absolutely huge: We had Reading & Leeds sell out; Creamfields sell out; we’ve got new sites for festivals; there are lots of tickets out there, but we’re selling all our tickets as well.

“We’re really positive; we were lucky that we got the summer [2021] in the UK, so we’re in a slightly different position to everyone else.”

“People are demanding to have choice and flexibility now when it comes to buying tickets”

“The market’s certainly buoyant,” added Oldham, Dice’s VP of content, Europe. “We had over a million people go out in London last month, which is extraordinary. The place where it’s the most buzzy is with emerging talent – the waitlist for artists like Fred Again is astronomical. People are buying really early because they’ve got the protection of knowing that they can give their ticket back if they can’t go.”

James Fleury of price-capped ‘ethical’ ticket marketplace TicketSwap said the Amsterdam-based firm had already twice broken company records in the first four months of 2022, and backed up Oldham’s point on flexibility.

“People are demanding to have choice and flexibility now when it comes to buying tickets,” he said. “Buying a ticket anymore isn’t necessarily a commitment to attend that specific event. It is for the top four or five artists that I really love, but for the other artists where we maybe like one single or a couple of tracks… I think it’s important that we also promote that flexibility.

“Our challenge this year as a company is to educate both fans, but also partners – promoters and festivals – about why having that choice and flexibility is important on the fans’ side.”

 


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SJM’s Chris York honoured at 2022 Arthur Awards

SJM Concerts’ Chris York took home the Bottle Award for lifetime achievement as the cream of the international live music industry turned out in force for the 2022 Arthur Awards.

The awards and Gala Dinner returned in-person to its old stomping grounds, Grade II-listed ballroom Sheraton Grand Park Lane in London, for the first time in two years.

Hosted once again by Emma Banks of CAA, the biggest ever Arthurs paid tribute to a dozen of the industry’s trailblazers, in front of 400 industry professionals.

Rounding off the night, York name-checked SJM boss Simon Moran for changing the course of his life and paid tribute to late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins in a moving acceptance speech after being presented with the evening’s top honour by WME agent Lucy Dickins.

York is one of SJM’s four directors alongside Moran, Rob Ballantine and Glenn Tyrrell, and has worked with the likes of Oasis, Foo Fighters, Massive Attack, Stereophonics, Lily Allen, Smashing Pumpkins, Underworld, Fatboy Slim, Green Day, Placebo, Lorde, Robert Plant, Morrissey, Kraftwerk, Swedish House Mafia, and The Chemical Brothers across his 30-year career.

Other winners at the Oscars of the live music business included AEG Presents’ Simon Jones (Promoters’ Promoter), FKP Scorpio chief Folkert Koopmans (Festival Organiser’s Organiser), Mike Malak of Paradigm (Second Least Offensive Agent), Ticketmaster’s Sarah Slater (Golden Ticketer) and LIVE co-founders Phil Bowdery and Stuart Galbraith (Unsung Hero).

In full, the Arthur Awards 2022 winners are…

FIRST VENUE TO COME INTO YOUR HEAD
The O2, London

MOST PROFESSIONAL PROFESSIONAL
Sarah Martin, WME

THE PROMOTERS’ PROMOTER
Simon Jones, AEG Presents

THE PEOPLE’S ASSISTANT
Claire Macleod, X-ray Touring

FESTIVAL ORGANISER’S ORGANISER
Folkert Koopmans, FKP Scorpio

THE GOLDEN TICKETER
Sarah Slater, Ticketmaster

SECOND LEAST OFFENSIVE AGENT
Mike Malak, Paradigm Agency

SERVICES ABOVE & BEYOND
TAIT Towers

THE UNSUNG HERO
Phil Bowdery & Stuart Galbraith, CPA/LIVE

TOMORROW’S NEW BOSS
Dan Roberts, Live Nation (UK)

THE WINNER TECHS IT ALL
LIVENow

THE BOTTLE AWARD
Chris York, SJM Concerts

 


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Dice boosts leadership team with senior hires

Ticketing and discovery platform Dice has bolstered its leadership team with four senior appointments.

Falko Mortiboys joins as VP of fan experience, Ali McCloud is made VP of partner relations, Antony Jackson is named head of expansion, Europe and Leon Sherman becomes head of artist partnerships, UK & Europe.

The company says the new hires highlights its commitment to scaling its offering into new markets, deepening its partner network and using technology and data to create a better live experience for artists and fans.

“Ali, Antony, Falko and Leon are great leaders who I’m confident will play an integral role in supercharging the growth of our platform”

“I’m very grateful to be working with such talented people at Dice and we spend a lot of time making sure we hire the right people,” says Dice CEO and founder Phil Hutcheon. “Ali, Antony, Falko and Leon are great leaders who I’m confident will play an integral role in supercharging the growth of our platform.”

London-based Mortiboys, who was previously director of data insights & CRM at Manchester United, is tasked with expanding Dice’s user experience globally, using research, data and insights to grow the fan community and deepen their engagement with the platform.

McCloud will work on growing the company’s network of venues, promoters and artists, with a focus on building long-term relationships with strategic live entertainment partners across the world. Based in New York, McCloud has previously held senior positions at ticketing companies including Eventbrite, Ticketfly and Ticketmaster.

Jackson will be responsible for deepening the company’s presence in its existing European markets as well as helping Dice break into new cities and countries. He joins from San Francisco-based micro-mobility company Spin. Prior to that, he was responsible for growing and expanding Deliveroo’s virtual brands concept globally.

Sherman makes the switch from SoundCloud, where he was global editorial director. He will be tasked with making the Dice platform indispensable for artists. He is a former head of marketing at global media and festival organisation Afropunk, and was also at Metropolis Music as a promoter and campaigns manager.

 


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