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ID&T joins forces with Superstruct Entertainment

Dutch promoter ID&T has signed a partnership agreement with leading live organisation Superstruct Entertainment.

According to today’s announcement, the deal has helped steer ID&T into “a safe haven” after a tough year and a half that saw the company take out a number of loans, slash its workforce, and cancel its festivals.

“By creating this financially sound situation, we have secured the employment of our 100+ employees and are able to move forward with our suppliers who are also struggling at this time,” says Ritty van Straalen, CEO of the ID&T Group.

Financial terms of the partnership have not been disclosed but it has been revealed that the founders and senior management of the ID&T Group have become shareholders in Superstruct.

Providence Equity-backed Superstruct produces a number of major festivals across Europe including Sziget, Elrow, Parookaville, Wacken Open Air, Boardmasters, Sonar and the Dutch festival Zwarte Cross – the company’s first acquisition since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

ID&T’s portfolio includes Mysteryland, Defqon.1, Awakenings, and Milkshake – all of which have been cancelled two years in a row due to restrictions.

It is also the parent company of organisations such as Q-dance, ID&T Events, B2S, Monumental (Awakenings), Art of Dance, Platinum Agency, and Headliner Entertainment.

“ID&T is a significant milestone for Superstruct and reflects our deep conviction in the value of experience-focused festivals”

James Barton, chairman of Superstruct Entertainment: “We are very excited to join forces with ID&T, a business that I have long admired. Our partnership with ID&T is a very significant milestone for Superstruct and reflects our deep conviction in the value of experience-focused live music festivals and our excitement about the significant joint growth opportunities that lie ahead as live events return.”

The companies say the deal will provide great opportunities in sharing knowledge and creating synergies between the companies to further improve the fan experience at their festivals.

Ritty van Straalen, CEO of the ID&T Group adds: “ID&T will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2022. This partnership is an important strategic step in the development of our company, which we already embarked upon in 2019, pre-covid, and was ultimately delayed by 1.5 years.

“The past 19 months have been very tough for us and the entire event industry, but we are excited to see that Superstruct has been able to look through the current environment, recognising the combined potential of these two world-class companies.

“The international live events industry is increasingly consolidating and Superstruct has developed itself into a high quality, market-leading powerhouse in our industry. We are happy to be part of such an experienced group and strongly believe we can reinforce each other in many ways.”

 


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Live Nation resumes acquisition of Ocesa for $444m

Live Nation has resumed its acquisition of Ocesa, the third-largest promoter in the world and the parent company of Ticketmaster Mexico.

The US$444 million deal, if completed, would give the world’s largest live entertainment company a 51% stake in one of its largest competitors, which dominates the Latin American market.

The acquisition, which was paused due to the pandemic, is now expected to close by late 2021 or early 2022, subject to regulatory approval.

Live Nation originally agreed to buy 51% of Ocesa for over $400m in summer 2019 but pulled out of the deal in May last year, just a month after Mexican competition regulators approved the deal.

Following the termination of the deal, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said that he was “long term, still bullish on [Ocesa’s] business and ours” but that Live Nation was “not looking to take on any losses from Mexico while they’re going through their six or eight months of business downturn”.

“Ocesa will play a pivotal role in putting together many incredible shows in Mexico and the rest of Latin America”

The joint sellers of the stake are the Inter-American Entertainment Corporation (Corporación Interamericana de Entretenimiento, or CIE) and Grupo Televisa, a media giant in the Spanish-speaking world.

Live Nation is reportedly buying a 40% stake in Ocesa from Grupo Televisa, and 11% of the concert promoter from CIE.

CIE will hold on to the remaining 49% minority stake in Ocesa. Live Nation is expected to hold back 7% of the closing price to cover any potential operating losses for several quarters.

“After serving as Live Nation’s touring, festival, and ticketing partner in Mexico for years, we know Ocesa is a stellar business with deep roots in live entertainment in Mexico,” says Michael Rapino, president and CEO, Live Nation Entertainment.

“Alex has built a remarkable company and as we continue to build on the return to live, Ocesa will play a pivotal role in putting together many incredible shows in Mexico and the rest of Latin America.”

“This deal gives us a unique opportunity to continue Ocesa’s 30-year contribution to the development of the Mexican live sector”

Alejandro Soberón Kuri, president and CEO of CIE, added: “We are extremely proud to finally join Live Nation. This is a natural evolution of our long-standing relationship and it gives us a unique opportunity to continue Ocesa’s 30-year contribution to the development of the Mexican live entertainment industry. Additionally, it will help us foster CIE’s commitment to the promotion of Mexican artistic talent abroad.”

Soberón Kuri will serve as CEO and sit on the board of the newly-formed joint venture. Rapino will become chairman of the venture’s board of directors.

Ocesa promotes more than 3,100 events for nearly six million fans annually across Mexico and Colombia and has a robust business portfolio in ticketing, sponsorship, food & beverage, merchandise, and venue operation – including 13 premier venues across Mexico with a collective capacity of nearly 250,000 seats.

Ocesa’s primary ticketing business, Ticketmaster Mexico, is a leading ticket company in Mexico.

 


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Viagogo sells StubHub business outside N.America

Viagogo has sold its StubHub business outside of North America – including the UK – to investment firm Digital Fuel Capital LLC for an undisclosed sum.

The sale was approved by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and completed on 3 September, after secondary ticketing giant Viagogo was forced to sell its international business due to competition concerns.

Viagogo acquired eBay’s ticketing division StubHub for $4.05 billion in cash in February 2020.

According to the CMA, a merger between the two companies would have resulted in a substantial lessening of competition in the secondary ticketing market, leading to higher prices and limited option for fans.

“We look forward to sharing more details about the integration of the two businesses”

Viagogo assuaged competition concerns by proposing the “divestment to an upfront buyer of StubHub’s European and certain other international legal entities”.

The sale of StubHub International to Digital Fuel Capital now brings the merger investigation to a close, says the CMA.

The Massachusetts-based investment firm will add StubHub International to its portfolio which consists of Artifact Uprising, Boutique Brands, BuyAutoParts, Guild Brands, National Tree Company, Outdoor Adventure Brands, Renovation Brands, RugsUSA, and Seattle Coffee Gear.

“We appreciate the CMA’s role in bringing the merger to this conclusion, and we look forward to sharing more details about the integration of the two businesses with our loyal customers and partners very soon,” says Cris Miller, VP of business development, Viagogo.

“Viagogo is a website with a long and storied history of breaking the law”

“As the live events industry emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, robust competition in the ticketing market is needed more than ever and Viagogo will continue to take its essential role in the live events industry very seriously. Viagogo and StubHub will always remain committed to working with regulators, while providing safe and secure platforms for people to buy and sell tickets to events all over the world.”

In 2021 so far, Viagogo has been investigated for violating laws in countries including Austria, Italy and Australia.

Adam Webb, campaign manager at FanFair Alliance, an anti-touting campaign group, says: “Good luck to Digital Fuel Capital. For their sake, I hope they didn’t pay very much.

“Viagogo is a website with a long and storied history of breaking the law and that’s dominated by large-scale touts and non-existent tickets.”

 


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Oak View Group to merge with Spectra

Oak View Group (OVG) has announced plans to merge with Spectra, a Philadelphia-based venue management firm with arenas, stadia, theatres and convention centres across North America.

Founded in 2015 by industry veterans Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff, OVG specialises in property development and financing, sponsorship and partnerships and venue operation and security, while Spectra provides management, consultancy and hospitality services to its partner venues. The merger of the pair, terms of which were not disclosed, creates a “full-service” company with complementary specialities, according to Leiweke, the former AEG CEO who now serves in the same role at OVG.

“This merger brings together two dynamic leaders in the live events industry with complementary capabilities that will deliver a broad array of services to our clients,” says Leiweke. “OVG’s core competencies in arena development and corporate sponsorships, coupled with Spectra’s leadership in food and beverage services, will create a full-service live events company that will deliver a compelling and highly competitive set of offerings that meet our clients’ evolving needs.

“I look forward to collaborating with the talented team at Spectra and bringing together our two organisations to create something truly unique.”

“This merger brings together two dynamic leaders in the live events industry with complementary capabilities”

Dave Scott, CEO of Spectra, adds: “This is an exciting development for Spectra and an important step in our journey to provide unparallelled services to our clients along with exciting growth opportunities for our team members as part of a larger, more diverse organisation. This merger accelerates our existing strategy and will lead to significant opportunities to cross-sell food, beverage and sponsorship services across our combined client base.

“I look forward to working with Tim, Irving and the OVG team to enhance the future of live events for our valued clients.”

Following completion of the merger, which is expected in the fourth quarter of this 2021 (subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions), OVG will remain headquartered in Los Angeles and Spectra in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Spectra offers venue management, food services and hospitality, and partnerships services for 330 clients in the US and Canada, including stadia, arenas, convention centres, performing arts centres, fairgrounds and casinos, as well as Singapore Sports Hub in south-east Asia. OVG, which has six arenas under construction, including Co-op Live in Manchester, UK, recently inked a global ticketing deal with Ticketmaster.

 


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DEAG to acquire majority stake in Lit.Cologne

DEAG Classics, a division of Germany’s DEAG (Deutsche Entertainment AG), has announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Lit.Cologne, one of Europe’s largest literary festivals.

With the acquisition of 66.6% of Lit.Cologne GmbH, DEAG is “significantly expanding its activities in the field of ‘literatainment’, bringing the most exciting names in culture and entertainment to audiences in Europe and beyond”, according to a statement from the Berlin-based live entertainment group company.

Following the acquisition, Lit.Cologne co-founder Rainer Osnowski will stay on as a shareholder and managing director and continue to run the company with his team. “Both partners expect synergy effects from the cooperation in the development of new formats, as well as in the acquisition of new venues and in the ticketing business,” adds DEAG, whose owned ticket agencies include MyTicket (DE, AT, UK) and Gigantic (UK).

Founded in Cologne in 2000, Lit.Cologne now welcomes more than 100,000 visitors and annually, and has in recent years launched a number of other events, including Phil.Cologne, a philosophy festival, and Lit.Ruhr, a sister festival in the Ruhr region. In 2021, Lit.cologne was held as a digital festival for the first time, with 54 online events.

“This alliance offers the mutual know-how in the live sector and the passion for first-class live events”

In a joint statement, DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow and DEAG Classics board member Jacqueline Zich say: “We are very pleased with our partnership with Rainer Osnowski and his team, who have built up Europe’s largest literature festival and also know how to inspire their audiences with new formats such as Lit.Ruhr and Phil.Cologne.

“Being able to contribute to the further development of formats, and support the long-term direction of the festivals with our live expertise and our European network, fills us with great joy.”

“The partnership with DEAG Classics in this form, which leaves the festival as such untouched in terms of content and structure, is certainly something of a rarity these days,” adds Osnowski. “On the one hand, this partnership is a further step towards securing the long-term future of the festival alongside the great commitment of our main sponsors and partners. On the other hand, this alliance offers the mutual know-how in the live sector and the passion for first-class live events many opportunities for further joint development.

“I am very pleased about this and look forward to working together.”

Earlier this year, DEAG raised another €6 million to fund acquisitions, and says it recently enlisted the services of a “renowned American investment bank” to identify new opportunities outside its “core markets of Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Ireland and Denmark”.

 


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VNUE to acquire livestreaming company Stageit

Music technology company VNUE will acquire livestreaming platform StageIt in a deal that will allegedly add over $9 million in revenue and access to performers and creators.

The deal brings fans and technology to VNUE’s portfolio, in addition to boosting the company’s Soundstr platform with music recognition technology.

The companies expect to close within 60 days, pending the completion of diligence and the required financial audit. Stageit will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of VNUE. Further terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to the announcement, StageIt, launched by musician Evan Lowenstein in 2010, hosted 6,280 shows in 2020 and paid out over $7m to artists. The platform has over 58,000 performers and over 900,000 users from 135 countries.

The platform is complimentary with VNUE’s set.fm ‘instant live‘ mobile and web service, and the company will add a feature that allows fans to enjoy a livestream and purchase the audio of the performance immediately afterwards.

“The addition of StageIt will enable the first full monetisation suite for venues, festivals and events”

Zach Bair, CEO of VNUE, says: “The acquisition of StageIt represents the first step in a multi-pronged plan to grow the business and enhance shareholder value, as I have committed to since day one.

“The company will pursue both organic and inorganic opportunities that are synergistic, and with StageIt, we have incredible synergy not just with the StageIt platform and how we can integrate with our existing content platforms such as set.fm, but with the incredible leadership and talent pool that we will now have access to in order to move our Soundstr technology forward.”

Stephen White, Stageit’s CEO since 2020, says: “VNUE, as their name suggests, has been creating a platform for artists, labels, rights holders and venue operators that enhances revenue and helps resolve complex rights compliance.

“The addition of StageIt will enable the first full monetisation suite for venues, festivals and events that will make it simple for our clients and operators to generate more revenue and embrace the hybrid future that livestreaming provides. We couldn’t be more excited to join Zach and the VNUE team and to help push this vision forward.”

 


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Move Concerts partners with Brazil’s DC Set Group

Move Concerts, the largest independent promoter in Latin America, has partnered with DC Set Group, one of Brazil’s leading live entertainment companies, in a deal that sees DC Set partners and co-presidents Dody Sirena and Cicão Chies acquire a stake in Move Concerts Brazil.

The two companies have a history of collaborating on co-promoted tours in Brazil, including Faith No More in 1991 and Shakira in 2018. In the US, Miami-based Move Concerts USA has promoted stateside shows by Brazilian icon Roberto Carlos, who is managed by DC Set Group.

Led by company founder and CEO Phil Rodriguez, Miami-based Move Concerts has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Puerto Rico. Commenting on the new partnership, Rodriguez says: “I have known Dody Sirena and Cicão Chies for a long time. Over the years we have worked together on some tours in Brazil and have been friends for decades. In 1991, I worked with Dody Sirena on Rock in Rio’s lineup.

“I am thrilled to welcome DC Set to the Move Concerts family”

“I have enormous respect for how they turned their company, DC Set, into a powerhouse that covers artist management, venue management, touring, publishing and esports. I am thrilled to welcome them to the Move Concerts family as they take a stake in Move Concerts Brazil, and look forward to growing our Brazilian operation together.”

Founded in 1979 by Sirena and Chies in Sao Paulo, DC Set Group has promoted numerous international superstars in Brazil, including Michael Jackson, Van Halen, Luciano Pavarotti, Julio Iglesias and Rod Stewart. Move and DC Set will produce concerts and international sporting events initiatives under the Move Concerts Brazil brand.

“The partnership with Move Concerts is the result of many years of partnership, friendship, and respect,” says Sirena. “For the group, it is a privilege to announce this partnership at such an important moment, when major live events are being resumed. There is no doubt that it will be a very successful path.”

 


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Endeavor-run biz acquires dynamic ticketing firm

WME parent company Endeavor has acquired Qcue, a software developer for dynamic ticket pricing in the live events industry.

Terms of the deal, which was made through Endeavor’s experiential events firm On Location Experiences (acquired in early 2020), have not been disclosed.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Qcue’s technology, which helps rights holders optimise ticket pricing and maximise sales based on market demand, will be integrated into On Location’s suite of hospitality offerings.

On Location offers corporate clients and others fans access to marquee events like the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four and New York Fashion Week. Its overall list of 150 entities also includes artists and festivals, such as Coachella and Bonnaroo, as well as unique experiences owned by On Location.

Qcue, founded in 2007, provides sports teams and entertainment outfits with ticket pricing, analytics, data visualisation, inventory management and efficiency tools.

“[The deal will bring] top-of-the-line dynamic pricing technology and a stellar team of ticketing experts in-house”

Its clients include Major League Baseball teams, college athletic departments and Australian Football League teams. The company will continue to operate out of its headquarters in Austin after the deal has closed.

In announcing the deal, On Location estimated that Qcue has made more than 35 million price changes, generating more than $300 million in incremental revenue for its partners.

“We are thrilled to join forces with Qcue, bringing top-of-the-line dynamic pricing technology and a stellar team of ticketing experts in-house,” On Location CFO Jon Lavallee said in a press release. “Together, we will optimise On Location’s approach to ticketing and pass that benefit on to our valued partners.”

Along with On Location, Endeavor also owns the IMG sports agency and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The company posted a small profit of US$2.4 million in the first quarter of 2021 – the firm’s first since becoming a public company in April.

 


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Providence buys into music retailer Sweetwater

Providence Equity Partners, the private-equity owner of live entertainment firms including Superstruct Entertainment, Ambassador Theatre Group and Tait (Towers), has bought into Sweetwater, the leading US retailer of musical instruments and audio equipment.

Terms of the transaction, which sees funds advised by Provide make a “strategic investment” in Sweetwater, were not disclosed.

Founded in 1979 by Chuck Surack, Sweetwater now turns over more than US$1 billion annually and has served over 1.5 million unique customers. “I am incredibly proud of the growth our company achieved over the last year, which would not have been possible without the dedication of our employees and world-class team of music gear experts,” comments Surack (pictured). “I am confident this growth equity investment will allow us to reach new heights and further our mission of enabling customers to make music and pursue their dreams.”

Other music-industry investments by Providence include software firm Impact, the UK’s Brilliant Stages (via Tait) and, formerly, Greencopper parent company Patron Technology, which it sold last year. Its festival division, Superstruct, recently acquired Dutch event Zwarte Cross, in its first acquisition since before the pandemic.

“We believe the company is well-positioned for sustainable growth as live events return”

“Providence is a great partner to continue our momentum and take Sweetwater to the next level,” says John Hopkins, Sweetwater’s COO. “As the world emerges from the pandemic, we believe the firm’s strong track record of helping music-related businesses accelerate their growth will be invaluable.

“The Providence team appreciates what makes Sweetwater different and we are aligned on how we can further leverage our unique culture to capitalise on new opportunities that create even better customer experiences.”

Scott Marimow, managing director of Providence, comments: “Sweetwater’s status as an online industry leader is a direct result of its unique culture and dedication to customer service. We believe the company is well-positioned for sustainable growth as live events return and artists and entertainment companies look to provide the memorable experiences that have been absent over the past year and a half.

“We are excited to partner with such a culture-driven company and look forward to working with Chuck and team to grow the business together.”

 


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DEAG’s Kilimanjaro to acquire promoter UK Live

DEAG has acquired a majority stake in UK Live, the independent Buckinghamshire-based promoter behind Let’s Rock, the popular festivals of ’80s  and ‘retro’ music held in 14 cities.

Berlin-based DEAG announced last month it had raised more than €6 million to fund acquisitions in “key markets” around the world. Through UK subsidiary Kilimanjaro Live, the company has taken a 90% stake in UK Live, which has also organised headline shows by the likes of Craig David, Kim Wilde, Rick Astley and the Kaiser Chiefs, as well as festivals PennFest and Sunset Sessions (Exeter and Norwich).

In addition to organising shows, UK Live specialises in artist booking, stage construction and event technology. The company’s founders and managing directors Nick Billinghurst and Matt Smith, will stay on board as minority shareholders and will continue to manage the company in the long term.

“In view of the positive development with regard to the vaccination situation in our core markets, we expect to see our business activities increasingly return to normal in the coming months. We are already setting the course for a continuation of our successful business development and can further expand our strong market position in the UK with the acquisition of UK Live,” says Detlef Kornett, member of the executive board of DEAG (Deutsche Entertainment AG).

Other DEAG businesses in the UK include the Flying Music Company, Belladrum Festival, MyTicket UK and Gigantic Tickets, as well as Singular Artists in the neighbouring Republic of Ireland.

“We are very excited about our future collaboration with DEAG and look forward to driving our growth journey together”

“UK Live has its own productions and independently covers the complete infrastructure from stage set-up to technology. By focusing on the domestic market, UK Live’s business activities are hardly affected by the Brexit,” continues Kornett. “The partnership with UK Live offers us potential, especially for our ticketing and live entertainment business. For example, we will offer tickets for UK Live events for sale exclusively through Gigantic.com.”

“The acquisition of UK Live adds attractive events and concerts to our events portfolio,” says Stuart Galbraith, CEO of Kilimanjaro Live. “Nick Billinghurst and Matt Smith have many years of experience in the live entertainment industry and have shaped UK Live from its early days with Let’s Rock The Moor with 1,000 visitors to a successful company with over a dozen festivals and countless concerts within only a few years. Today, the four series of events, Let’s Rock, PennFest, Friday Night Live Norwich and Sunday Sessions, alone attract over 200,000 visitors annually.”

Billinghurst adds: “We are very excited about our future collaboration with DEAG and look forward to driving our growth journey together. With DEAG, we have a strong partner on our side, with whom we are ideally positioned for the post-corona era.

“Together we will soon be presenting our audience with top-class concerts and events again. I am sure that both sides will benefit from our merger in the long term.”

 


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