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Amazon announces full line-up for new Intersect festival

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has revealed the full artist line-up for Intersect, its music and technology festival debuting in Las Vegas next month.

Acts including Jpegmafia, Toro y Moi, the Black Madonna, Japanese Breakfast and Kelsey Lu join the likes of Foo Fighters, Kacey Musgraves, Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals, Beck, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, HER and Jamie XX at the event, which will take place on 6 and 7 November at the 85,000-capacity Las Vegas Festival Grounds.

The festival – which follows the Taylor Swift-headlined Prime Day concert as the web giant’s first new live entertainment project since the abrupt shutdown of Amazon Tickets and Prime Live Events early last year – also includes a reported million square feet (93,000m²) of games and activities, including a video arcade, a ‘post-apocalyptic’ dodgeball stadium and a huge ball pit with 200,000 balls, as well as installations and exhibitions by acclaimed visual artists and a drone light show celebrating women in tech.

“We’ve built a pretty amazing and unusual live music experience at our annual AWS conference that attendees have loved”

Ariel Kelman, vice-president of worldwide marketing for AWS, comments: “Music has been an uncanny unifier of people over the years. We’ve built a pretty amazing and unusual live music experience at our annual AWS conference that attendees have loved, and with Intersect, we’re excited to extend this unique event into a two-day, public music festival.

“Festivalgoers can look forward to a mix of musical performances from legendary acts like the Foo Fighters and Kacey Musgraves, and unique musical talents from the likes of Brandi Carlile, Kelsey Lu, and Jpegmafia, coupled with immersive digital installations and some of the interactive games and technology elements our AWS re:Invent and re:Play attendees know and love.”

Two-day tickets are priced from US$169 and available from intersectfest.com.

 


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Amazon Tickets shuts shop

Following an about-turn on its long-awaited North American launch, Amazon has ordered the closure of its UK event ticketing operation, Amazon Tickets, IQ has learnt.

In an email to clients, James Moore, Amazon Tickets’ category director for music, says the ecommerce giant has “taken the decision to close Amazon Tickets, and today [21 February] will commence the process of marking back to you any tickets currently on our website and of ceasing the sale of new tickets”.

The announcement marks the end of Amazon’s difficult foray into ticketing, which culminated in November with news it had delayed its launch in the US indefinitely after failing to secure a distribution deal with Live Nation’s Ticketmaster.

As IQ wrote at the time, in contrast to the UK, ‘the US ticketing market is a different beast, with big ticketers such as Ticketmaster, AXS and See Tickets eschewing the open-distribution model common in much of the rest of the world in favour of handing over huge amounts of cash upfront to venues to sell their tickets exclusively.

‘According to Amplify, that model proved Amazon’s undoing: a source close to the company says Amazon Tickets US’s business model, as in the UK, would have been about “doing deals with all the ticketing platforms to pull inventory and help content owners allocate tickets”. Ticketmaster – which enjoys a 80% marketshare in the US – reportedly declined to work with Amazon, offering it the only opportunity to sell discounted tickets to underperforming shows – a proposal rebuffed by Amazon, which wanted to be able to offer members of its Prime scheme deals on premium tickets.’

“We would like to thank you for your support of Amazon Tickets, and to reiterate our commitment to trying to minimise the impact of this decision”

Despite its difficulties in North America, Amazon Tickets in the UK was outwardly successful, partnering with AEG and launching its own concert series, Prime Live Events – although the unexpected departures of top execs Geraldine Wilson and Jason Carter hinted at difficulties within the company.

Along with Sky UK’s Sky Tickets and Alibaba’s Tao Piao Piao/Damai.cn, Amazon Tickets was one of several potentially disruptive ticketing ventures launched by major multinationals over the last two years. Following the quiet closure of Sky Tickets last September, only Alibaba’s challenger remains.

According to Moore, all Amazon Tickets clients will be contacted “shortly to discuss marking back your tickets”, but until then, all events will “remain available on Amazon Tickets.”

“We have already emailed all customers with outstanding tickets informing them of our decision to close the Amazon Tickets business and assuring them that any tickets already sold for events in 2018 and 2019 remain valid and will be fulfilled as normal,” he concludes.

“We would like to thank you for your support of Amazon Tickets, and to reiterate our commitment to trying to minimise the impact of this decision on you and your customers.”

An Amazon Tickets spokesperson declined to comment further.

 


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Amazon Tickets US on ice?

The much-anticipated launch of Amazon Tickets in North America has reportedly been delayed indefinitely, after ecommerce giant Amazon failed to secure a distribution deal with Live Nation’s Ticketmaster.

That’s according to Dave Brooks at Amplify, who notes that after a year of trying to get the US edition of its UK ticketing platform off the ground, Amazon has largely abandoned the project in the face of Ticketmaster’s overwhelming market dominance and exclusivity contracts with many of the country’s top venues.

Despite the recent exits of top execs Geraldine Wilson and Jason Carter, Amazon Tickets is still operational in the UK and remains outwardly successful, notably partnering with AEG, launching its own concert series, Prime Live Events, and generally continuing to grow its product offering.

The US ticketing market, however, is a different beast, with big ticketers such as Ticketmaster, AXS and See Tickets eschewing the open-distribution model common in much of the rest of the world in favour of handing over huge amounts of cash upfront to venues to sell their tickets exclusively.

Ticketmaster reportedly declined to work with Amazon, offering it only the opportunity to sell discounted tickets to underperforming shows – a proposal that was rebuffed

According to Amplify, that model proved Amazon’s undoing: a source close to the company says Amazon Tickets US’s business model, as in the UK, would have been about “doing deals with all the ticketing platforms to pull inventory and help content owners allocate tickets”. Ticketmaster – which enjoys a 80% marketshare in the US – reportedly declined to work with Amazon, offering it the only opportunity to sell discounted tickets to underperforming shows – a proposal rebuffed by Amazon, which wanted to be able to offer members of its Prime scheme deals on premium tickets.

That leaves Amazon instead faced with the equally tricky prospect of negotiating directly with (often Ticketmaster-exclusive) venues and promoters – something the source says won’t be happening until market conditions change.

Despite this, Amazon Tickets continues to recruit in the US: the company still needs a Texas-based software developer, indicating there may be life in the platform yet.

Amazon declined to comment.

 


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Amazon Tickets GM Geraldine Wilson exits

Geraldine Wilson, the Amazon UK exec who had led the company’s ticketing business for more than three years, has stepped down, IQ has learnt.

Wilson was removed as a director of Amazon Online UK Ltd on 4 August, and an Amazon spokesperson confirmed today she has “decided to leave Amazon Tickets for personal reasons and to take some time off from full-time employment”.

Wilson joined Amazon UK in May 2014 as general manager of its Amazon Local business, which marked the ecommerce giant’s first foray into ticketing, initially via partnerships with several West End theatres. Amazon Tickets was spun out as a standalone division in September 2015, with Wilson becoming GM.

The service has since grown to offer tickets for most major UK tours, become the official presale partner of AEG’s British Summer Time festival and is in the process of being launched in the US.

Wilson’s exit follows that of Prime Live Events boss Jason Carter, who similarly left for personal reasons and to “take time off from full-time employment” in June. Prior to his resignation, Carter headed up Amazon’s first self-promoted concert series, announced in May as exclusively available to Amazon Prime subscribers.

 


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Amazon Prime Live Events boss Jason Carter exits

Jason Carter, the former BBC Introducing boss recently appointed to head up Amazon’s Prime Live Events, has stepped down.

Carter (pictured), who joined Amazon in May as director of Prime Live Events for Amazon Tickets, is taking a career break for personal reasons, an Amazon spokesperson tells IQ. Rumours of Carter’s departure were first reported by Hits, with Amazon confirming the news yesterday.

In a statement, the company explains: “Jason has decided, for family reasons, that he needs to take time off from full-time employment.”

Prime Live Events, Amazon UK’s first self-promoted concert series, was announced in May, exclusively available to Amazon Prime subscribers. The first show, Blondie at the Round Chapel in Hackney, was postponed in aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing.

 


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Arena attack: Shows axed as premiums set to rise

British venues and promoters have been left counting the cost of last night’s deadly bombing at the Manchester Arena, with a spate of cancellations, questions over security and the threat of a spike in the cost of insurance cover.

The launch of Amazon’s much-heralded Prime Live Events concert series is among the most high-profile events to have been put on hold. As a “mark of respect”, the Blondie show at the 750-capacity Round Chapel tonight has been postponed.

“Out of a mark of respect for the victims of the terrible attack at Manchester Arena last night, Amazon and Blondie will not go ahead with the Prime Live Event scheduled for tonight at the Round Chapel in Hackney, London,” an Amazon spokesperson tells IQ. “We are working together with Blondie to reschedule the event, and we will communicate details to customers as soon as possible.”

Take That have also cancelled their planned concert at the Liverpool Echo Arena tonight “out of respect to all of the people and their families that were affected by the horrific incident” in Manchester, the band say in a statement.

The three-piece are due to play further dates at Manchester Arena later this week; it is not yet known whether those shows will go ahead.

Elsewhere in Manchester, Simple Minds at the Bridgewater Hall (2,400-cap.), Homeshake at Gorilla (700-cap.) and Priests at Gullivers (100-cap.) will all go ahead tonight.

At The O2 in London, meanwhile, Ariana Grande – who was performing at Manchester Arena the night of the bombing – is, at the time of writing, still booked to play on 25 and 26 May, while Iron Maiden have confirmed their 27–28 May dates will go ahead.

“The mood in Manchester is one of defiance: people are thinking, ‘We’re just going to get on with it'”

The most significant festival cancellation so far is Radio Festival, a radio/audio convention backed by PRS for Music, which was due to take place tonight at London’s British Library. Roger Cutsforth, chief executive of event organiser Radio Academy, says: “[D]ue to the sheer number of people from the industry who have been called back to their desks to report on the incident, and the many attendees attempting to travel, we have decided to reschedule the event for later this year.”

DHP Family’s Anton Lockwood, whose Dot to Dot new-music festival returns to Manchester this Friday (26 May), tells IQ it’s business as usual for the promoter until it hears otherwise.

“If police tell us we have to do anything different, we obviously will,” he explains, “but it never occurred to us to cancel.”

Arenas across the UK, as well as many London theatres, are believed to be urgently reviewing security procedures in the aftermath of the attack.

However, Phin Mackness, the managing director of urban booking agency Stateside Touring, says he believes not enough is being done to keep artists and audiences safe.

“This is the third time a music venue has been attacked in the space of 18 months,” he tells IQ, referencing the attacks on the Bataclan and Reina nightclub in Istanbul, “and I can only see that this is going to increase: when you’ve got lots of people in a small space like a venue, it makes an attractive target for terrorists.

“We need change – it’s not specific to the UK, but in live venues as a whole. This could happen anywhere.”

“When you’ve got lots of people in a small space like a venue, it makes an attractive target for terrorists”

In addition to the threat of terror discouraging some artists from visiting certain markets, a prominent industry insurance broker tells IQ premiums are likely to increase in the short-term as a “knee-jerk reaction” to the Manchester bombing.

“The attack is likely to have a direct affect on [insurance] rates”, says Alesco’s Paul Twomey, as underwriters “look at the location of shows: for example, insurers will see more incidents occurring in France and Belgium and so premiums will be higher in Spain, Denmark, Scandinavia…”

Twomey adds, however, that unless Britain is hit by a spate of terror attacks, as has happened in France, insurance policies will only peak in price temporarily. “As the old adage goes, the safest place to be right now is probably in a music venue,” he says.

Regardless of whether the attack is a sign of things to come in the UK, the data is clear: Terrorist incidents at live music events are on the rise, doubling year on year since 2015, with at least four so far in 2017 alone.

With a few exceptions, in Manchester, at least, the show looks to go on. While there is, says Lockwood, “a certain nervousness among some artists, especially Americans, flying in for Dot to Dot” – but the general mood “is one of defiance: people are thinking, ‘We’re just going to get on with it and not let last night stop me doing the things I want to do.”

 


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Amazon UK launches self-promoted Prime Live shows

Amazon today issued its strongest statement of intent to date about its live music plans, diving headfirst into promoting its own shows with the announcement of a new concert series, Prime Live Events.

Exclusively available to members of Amazon Prime – its £79-a-year subscription service that also includes music and video streaming, faster delivery on purchases from the Amazon website and, most recently, exclusive presales, lounges and premium seating at several AEG venues, including The O2 – the first Prime Live Event will take place on 23 May with a performance by Blondie at the 750-capacity Round Chapel in Hackney, London.

That will be followed by Alison Moyet at the Round Chapel on 12 June, Texas at the 600-cap. Porchester Hall, also in London, on 16 June and Katie Melua at the 770-cap. Cadogan Hall in Chelsea, west London, on 25 and 26 July – although Amazon Tickets general manager Geraldine Wilson tells IQ the initial four shows will be followed by a “continuous programme” of concerts set to grow throughout 2017.

Explaining the decision to eschew working with external promoters, Wilson says while the company “works with promoters right across the UK” on its Amazon Tickets business, for Prime Live Events “we had a very strong idea of what we wanted to create, so it made sense to do it ourselves”.

The launch of Prime Live Events follows two one-off shows by Robbie Williams, at London’s St John-at-Hackney, and John Legend, at the Round Chapel, last December, which served as a trial run for the new series. Both were filmed and made available on demand to Prime members internationally – something that will continue with Prime Live Events shows.

A concert series hosted by a major international corporation with an interest in music streaming has, inevitably, already drawn conclusions with Apple’s successful Apple (né iTunes) Music Festival (“the intimate alternative to the Apple Music Festival”, writes TechRadar), although Wilson says Amazon is potentially in a stronger position owing to its wider reach and almost two decades in the music business.

“We’re addressing an appetite to see intimate shows up close to the artist”

“One of reasons why Amazon uniquely positioned is that we have this broad relationship with artists,” she explains. “We’ve been in music for 18 years – we have two streaming services, we sell their their music, their books, their tickets…

“And not only that, we’re going to be filming them – and that content is going to reach Prime members not just in the UK, but internationally.” (Morgan Stanley estimates there are 65 million Amazon Prime subscribers worldwide.)

Wilson declines to speak about any potential expansion of the concept internationally, but Amazon Tickets is known to be hiring staff in the US ahead of a rumoured launch stateside and the feedback in the UK so far has been positive (both artists and fans “loved” the Robbie Williams and John Legend shows, she says).

With the prospect of seeing their favourite act in an impersonal arena or stadium setting not to everyone’s taste, Amazon is hoping Prime Live Events can fill a gap in the market by putting major acts in mid-sized venues. “There are many different formats for consuming live music – festivals, arenas and stadia – and we’re addressing an appetite to see intimate shows up close to the artist,” concludes Wilson.

“When I was at the John Legend show, you could see the artist clearly no matter where you sat… I was talking to two guys in their late 20s and they said to me, ‘This is how we want to see live music.'”

Prime members with £150 to spare can pick up tickets for the Blondie gig at 9am this Thursday (11 May) from tickets.amazon.co.uk/prime-live-events.

 


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Ingresso acquired by Accesso

Leading entertainment ticket distributor Ingresso, formed in 2011 by See Tickets founder Nick Blackburn and ex-Seatem Group CEO Paul Burns, has been acquired by Accesso, a developer of queueing and ticketing solutions for live events, theme parks, zoos and other attractions.

According to the directors of Berkshire-based Accesso (formerly Lo-Q), the acquisition will provide Ingresso with a “significantly larger global distribution channel through which existing Accesso customers can seek to see their event and attraction tickets”.

Ingresso merged with BCD Entertainment in November 2013, with BCD’s Bart van Schriek becoming CEO.

The company counts among its clients Cirque du Soleil, Time Out Group’s YPlan and Amazon Tickets – although, as IQ revealed last week, Amazon is believed to be moving over its ticket inventory from Ingresso to Outbox, the technology used by AEG’s AXS.

Tom Burnet, executive chairman of Accesso, comments: “Our guiding purpose at Accesso is to help our clients drive revenue and improve their guest experience. It has been that way from our very first day as a company, and today’s acquisition of Ingresso deepens that commitment further still.

“We will open up our customers’ venues to a significantly larger pool of potential visitors while also creating new opportunities for growth”

“The ticket and the experience surrounding its purchase are absolutely central to our customers’ operations and our potential for growth. For many of our customers, access to third-party distribution channels for ticket sales is an important revenue stream.

“In acquiring Ingresso, we will help connect venues with their visitors via third-party distribution outlets in a technologically and financially efficient service-minded manner. We will open up our customers’ venues to a significantly larger pool of potential visitors while also creating new opportunities for growth through combining our platforms, leveraging our scale and deepening our relationships in the industry.”

“Along with the entire Ingresso team, I am thrilled to be joining Accesso,” adds van Schriek (pictured). “The cultures and values of our two companies are very similar: both innovative, both passionate about the customers we serve and both absolutely convinced of the potential our technologies have to create a new wave of value at all levels of the entertainment industry.

“I look forward to working with our new colleagues as we roll up our sleeves and take on the significant opportunity ahead of us.”

 


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Amazon strengthens AEG ties with O2, BST deals

Amazon Tickets has deepened its relationship with AEG, today announcing a string of new initiatives at AEG UK-operated venues and festivals.

Amazon Tickets branding is to appear at The O2, The SSE Arena, Wembley, and British Summer Time Hyde Park as part of an expansion of Amazon’s Prime subscription service, which will see members given access to exclusive presales, lounges and premium seating.

British Prime subscribers – who, for £79 annually, get faster delivery and membership of the Prime Music and Video streaming services – will be eligible to purchase tickets that include access to ‘Amazon lounges’ at The O2 and Wembley Arena, ‘Amazon Deck’ premium seats at The O2 and the ‘Amazon Prime terrace’ at BST Hyde Park.

A full list of events with premium seating is available at tickets.amazon.co.uk/prime.

A source tells IQ Amazon is also in the process of moving its ticket inventory from Ingresso to Outbox – the technology behind AEG’s AXS ticket agency – although a spokeswoman declined to “discuss our arrangements with our partners”.

“Enhanced live entertainment experiences are a fantastic addition to Amazon Prime in the UK”

In addition to its presence at AEG venues, Amazon Tickets is, as of Thursday, introducing 24-hour presales for Prime customers to shows across the UK, including tours by Sparks, ABC, The Darkness and Art Garfunkel.

“Enhanced live entertainment experiences are a fantastic addition to Amazon Prime in the UK, which already offers members great value with fast delivery, streaming of movies, TV and music and lots more,” says Amazon Tickets GM Geraldine Wilson.

“We’re always looking to add to Amazon Prime, and today we’re delighted to give our members exclusive access to tickets to our new Amazon lounges, premium seating and presales for live music and entertainment experiences across the UK. [From] Justin Bieber to The Killers, Emeli Sandé and Little Mix, Prime members will now be able to get access to the best seats in the house and our presales, and this is just the start – we’ll be adding new shows every week.”

Although currently only available in the UK, Amazon Tickets is known to be recruiting staff ahead of a rumoured launch stateside. Wilson spoke at ILMC 29 on the platform’s fan-friendly ethos, outlining its commitment to “fair”, all-inclusive prices and – significantly – ruling out any move into the secondary market.

 


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Amazon Tickets: “Fair prices”, no fees, no resale

Ahead of its rumoured international launch, Amazon Tickets’ general manager, Geraldine Wilson, has discussed Amazon’s fledgling UK ticketing operation, outlining its commitment to “fair prices for fans” with booking fees included in tickets’ face value.

Speaking at the 29th International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in London last week, Wilson said concert ticketing is an “obvious” area of expansion for Amazon given the ecommerce giant’s strength in physical musical sales and streaming. “Our customers love music, and this was an obvious place to go,” she said.

On pricing, Wilson said Amazon its mission is to be “competitive on prices”: “When we are selling theatre tickets, for example, we don’t want the customer to pay any more than they would at the box office,” she explained. “We try and work within that.”

She also criticised the practice of charging booking fees on tickets at check-out, saying she “personally [has] a real problem” with hidden charges. “We always show an all-inclusive price,” she commented.

“We are all about getting tickets to fans in our customer base at a fair price. I think secondary is wrong on every level”

When the panel (Ticketing: The survival plan) moved onto secondary ticketing, Wilson was adamant Amazon was not going to move in that direction. “We are all about getting tickets to fans in our customer base at a fair price,” she said. “I think it [ticket touting] is wrong at every level.”

Wilson also appeared briefly during ILMC’s opening session, The Open Forum: The big round up, joining panellists as they discussed the ramifications of Amazon’s potentially disruptive entry into the international ticketing market.

Reactions were mixed: From a manager’s point of view, said Biffy Clyro’s manager, Paul Craig, Amazon Tickets’s launch – and more ticket sellers in general – are a good thing, as each has different reaches and user-bases. CAA agent Emma Banks, however, cautioned that too many cooks could make it difficult to effectively price shows. “Ticketing is very complicated in the UK,” she said. “You have arena box-office deals, promoter deals with ticketing companies… another ticket agency further squeezes the allocations.”

 


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