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Festicket names CEO ahead of “major growth drive”

Benjamin Leaver has been named CEO of festival discovery and booking platform Festicket and its subsidiary Event Genius.

Leaver has been a non-executive board member of the company since 2018 and also has wide-ranging experience in technology businesses across multiple sectors.

He was formerly COO of Treatwell, the largest beauty website in Europe which in 2015 was acquired for more than $200 million.

As a result of Leaver’s appointment, Festicket co-founder and CEO Zack Sabban assumes the role of president.

In the new role, Sabban will focus on strategic relationships with partners and clients, driving accelerated global growth and capitalising on-demand around the world.

“During the next phase of our development, I want to drive our global growth”

Today’s news follows the appointment of Brian Walker as chief technology officer, and the promotion of Event Genius and Ticket Arena founder Reshad Hossenally to chief operating officer, as the business focuses on a global rollout of its end-to-end Event Genius technology.

Sabban says: “I am immensely proud of how much we have achieved since we started Festicket a decade ago. During the next phase of our development, I want to drive our global growth and take our services to thousands more event creators around the world.

“I am delighted that Benjamin has agreed to lead the business as it seeks to empower event creators everywhere to grow profitably and sustainably as they deliver incredible experiences to people all over the world.”

Leaver adds: “We have an amazing team with an incredible knowledge of what makes live events successful. The coming months and into next year will be one of the most important in the history of the industry.”

“The coming months and into next year will be one of the most important in the history of the industry”

Leading promoter and Festicket senior advisor Harvey Goldsmith comments: “Under Benjamin’s leadership and with an exceptional senior team in place, Festicket can continue to grow as the live events market explodes into 2022.

“When fans attend a show, they want a seamless experience from the moment they leave their homes. Post pandemic the adoption of technology, such as cashless, a core part of Festicket’s offering to its event partners, has become even more vital.”

Founded in 2012 by Sabban and Jonathan Youne, Festicket is the world’s largest platform for discovering and booking festival trips.

In 2019, the company completed the acquisition of Event Genius, and the associated Ticket Arena consumer website and brand.

Event Genius is a UK-based ticketing, access control and cashless POS platform servicing events across the globe.

 


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TEG appoints Rachael Carroll to new MD role

TEG has announced the appointment of Rachael Carroll to the newly created role of MD for TEG Sport & Experiences.

In the new role, Carroll will be tasked with driving the growth of TEG Sport’s pipeline of major events and will lead TEG’s portfolio of family entertainment, experiential and exhibition businesses, including Brickman Exhibitions, Life Like Touring, TES Live and TEG Rockefeller.

The MD of TEG Live, Tim McGregor, will work alongside Carroll in an “extended handover” as his focus shifts to TEG Live’s expanding concert touring and festivals portfolio.

Recent additions to TEG’s portfolio include MJR Presents, Handsome Tours and Laneway Festival, as well as several new strategic partnerships across Asia Pacific.

“We are excited to welcome Rachael to TEG as MD of TEG Sport and Experiences,” says TEG CEO Geoff Jones. “Rachael is an accomplished executive with a strong track record of delivering world-class events and our vast array of sport, family entertainment, experiential and exhibition ventures will be in excellent hands under her leadership.”

“Rachael is an accomplished executive with a strong track record of delivering world-class events”

Carroll added: “It’s a hugely exciting challenge to be joining the world-class and dynamic leadership team at TEG. I look forward to playing my part in the company’s fast-growing and diverse international entertainment business.”

Carroll has previously held executive positions with government agencies driving major event and tourism strategies and leading major events including the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and the New Zealand 2011 Rugby World Cup.

She comes to TEG from event management and sports promotion company Duco Events, where she was joint owner and COO.

Australia-headquartered TEG operates out of seven country offices and includes TEG Live, TEG Dainty, TEG MJR, TEG Van Egmond, Laneway FestivalHandsome Tours, Qudos Bank Arena, Ticketek, TEG Analytics, TEG Insights and TEG Digital.

 


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Live Nation UK hires promoter Ryan Cornall

Live Nation UK has announced the appointment of longtime alternative promoter Ryan Cornall who will work on projects including Download festival.

Cornwall joins Live Nation after six years at Surprise You’re Dead Music, an alternative indie promoter operating across the Midlands.

Previously, Cornall has worked with the likes of While She Sleeps, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Testament, Dinosaur Pile Up, Ministry, Bury Tomorrow, Thy Art Is Murder, Every Time I Die and Boston Manor.

“It is with great pleasure that I welcome Ryan Cornall to Live Nation,” says Andy Copping, Live Nation’s executive president of touring, UK.

“I’m incredibly honoured to be on the Download team – working on my favourite festival is a dream come true”

“He joins a world-class and formidable promotions team who are dedicated to breaking artists, building careers and bringing even more incredible live experiences to fans in the UK.”

Ryan Cornall adds: “I’m incredibly honoured to be starting at Live Nation and to have the chance to be on the Download team, working on my favourite festival with such a high calibre of bands is a dream come true. I’m excited to start my journey at Live Nation with the very best promoters at the top of their game and would like to thank Andy, Sean and Kam for this amazing opportunity.”


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Agent Rebecca Prochnik switches to UTA

Senior music agent Rebecca Prochnik has joined UTA as director of creative strategy, UK music.

At Earth Agency, which she co-founded in 2014, Prochnik represented a roster of independent artists including Skepta, AJ Tracey, JME, Deerhunter, Vanishing Twin, Kode 9 and Black Lips.

“The times we’re living through have expanded all manner of approaches and perspectives across the board,” says London-based Prochnik.

“I’m delighted by this unique opportunity to combine energies with the incredible, in-depth universe of UTA to lift the roof and broaden the pathways in what is an immensely transformative time for artists and agents alike.”

“Rebecca has an unparalleled reputation for helping independent talent break into the mainstream music landscape”

“Rebecca has an unparalleled reputation for helping independent talent break into the mainstream music landscape, and she has demonstrated exceptional creativity and entrepreneurship throughout her career,” says Obi Asika, co-head of UTA’s UK office.

“She has achieved great success in her leadership of Earth Agency, and we are thrilled to welcome her to UTA.”

Earlier this year, UTA acquired Echo Location Talent Agency, which was founded and led by Asika. The deal brought artists including Diplo, Major Lazer, Marshmello, Alesso, Wizkid into the UTA fold for international representation.

Asika now leads UTA’s UK office alongside Neil Warnock.

 


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Raft of appointments across US live industry

Live Nation Urban (LNU) has made Mari Arionne Davies its new VP of booking and talent.

In the new role, Davies will oversee artist bookings for LNU festivals and touring brands and will actively seek out partners to “introduce a new generation of tours, festivals, and activations”.

A founding member of Diversify ICM and a supporter of The Show Must Be Paused campaign, LA-based Davies has a background in social justice. Her remit at LNU will also include identifying avenues to support underserved voices in the business.

“It’s truly a thrill to be joining the dynamic team at Live Nation Urban,” said Davies. “LNU has shown tremendous growth and proven to be the premier source for live urban music. I look forward to working along with the team to further impact the company and the culture and to continue working with the brightest stars of hip hop, R&B and gospel as live events return to stages around the world.”

Most recently an agent at ICM Partners, Davies has worked with artists including Kelly Rowland and contributed to the rise of acts such as A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Cordae, Kiana Ledé and Jacquees.

“We are beyond excited to bring Mari over to head up our festival booking and touring activities,” added LNU president Shawn Gee. “She is a rising star in the business, and we are fortunate to have her on the Live Nation Urban team”

“Whether it’s artists or our own internal team, Live Nation is always investing in people we believe in”

Live Nation has also promoted Jenifer Smith to head of urban tour marketing & strategy. She will lead the company’s urban tour marketing team, supporting its roster of R&B and hip-hop tours within the concerts division. Smith was a tour marketer at AEG Presents and Goldenvoice for close to a decade, prior to joining Live Nation two years ago.

“Whether it’s artists or our own internal team, Live Nation is always investing in people we believe in,” said Omar Al-joulani, head of talent & touring for Live Nation Concerts.

“Jenifer has been an incredible leader at Live Nation, and we are confident her strategic focus and experience will do big things for every artist working with our Urban marketing team.”

Elsewhere, venue management giant ASM Global has tapped industry veteran John Boyle as global chief content officer. Boyle was previously chief growth officer and interim CFO of Insomniac Events and will lead ASM Global’s presentation and production content pipeline for its venue portfolio.

“With John’s far-reaching experience and the content team we are building, we will provide a greater number and wider array of profitable events to our venues, which comprise the most iconic family of venues in the world,” said ASM Global president and CEO Ron Bension.

In addition, livestreaming firm Dreamstage has hired veteran entertainment marketing executive Jesse Kirshbaum as CMO. Kirshbaum brings previously led Nue Agency and has worked with clients such as Pusha T, J. Cole, Big Sean, Mike Posner, Action Bronson, Wale and Solange.

“I couldn’t be more excited about joining the ‘Dream Team’,” said Kirshbaum. “The company is well-positioned to lead the charge into the future of the music business. The pandemic has changed the live business and consumer and artist habits around it, forever,” said Kirshbaum. “The data shows that when done right, livestreaming has a positive effect on artists relationships with their fans and creates even more demand for live shows.”

 


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Wasserman announces five newly appointed agents

Wasserman Music, the new booking agency formed following Wasserman group’s acquisition of Paradigm’s North American live music business, has announced five newly promoted agents.

The new agents include Amanda Ilgunas, Paige Maloney and Lauren Marker, as well as brand partnership agents Edenized Perez and Mallory Smith.

Additionally, Wasserman has appointed Stephanie Gherini and Mika Posecion as tour marketing directors.

“We take great pride in developing strong careers for our colleagues, as well as for our clients”

“We take great pride in developing strong careers for our colleagues, as well as for our clients,” says Wasserman Music EVP and managing executive Lee Anderson.

“Amanda, Paige, Lauren, Edenized and Mallory have grown into outstanding professionals, and we’re honoured to welcome them to our agent team.

“The addition of Stephanie and Mika to our exceptional tour marketing team represents a big step forward in Wasserman’s ability to empower and guide our clients’ touring careers.”

Today’s news follows the appointment of veteran agent Brent Smith as executive vice-president and managing executive, in July.

 


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ASM appoints GM for Middle East’s largest convention centre

ASM Global has appointed Dr Debbie Kristiansen as general manager of the new Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre, which will be the largest venue of its kind in the Middle East.

Kristiansen, who has lived and worked in the Middle East for 16 years, joins ASM from Novo Cinemas where she worked as CEO for more than seven years.

The Middle East vet ranked in the Top 30 Most Inspirational Women in the Arab World 2019 and was named Middle East Female CEO of the Year 2018.

“Debbie has more than 30 years’ experience in the industry and her leadership skills will bring many unique qualities to the role,” says ASM Global APAC & Gulf Region chairman and chief executive, Harvey Lister.

“Debbie has more than 30 years’ experience in the industry and her leadership skills will bring many unique qualities to the role”

“Her appointment will help consolidate ASM Global’s reputation in the region as the world’s leading producer of event experiences and enhance Bahrain’s standing as an international meetings destination.”

Kristiansen added: “To have the opportunity of working both for ASM Global, and to return to the beautiful destination of Bahrain, is a dream come true. This will allow me the privilege to help mentor and build the talent and skill set of young Bahrainis for generations to come.

“I look forward to working closely with Bahrain Tourism & Exhibition Authority to develop and grow the international MICE business, and to create a long-term legacy for Bahrain,” she concluded.

The Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre is scheduled to open in 2022.

ASM’s Middle East portfolio also includes the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai (cap. 17,000), the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre and the recently announced Jeddah Arena and the International Convention Centre Jeddah.

 


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Oak View Group names Chris Granger CEO of facilities

Oak View Group (OVG) has appointed Chris Granger as CEO of the group’s facilities, following the company’s merge with US venue giant Spectra.

With more than 25 years of experience, Granger will oversee OVG Facilities, OVG Media & Conferences, and the OVG Arena Alliance.

In addition, Granger will focus on sustainability, public safety, and sanitisation solutions across all venues.

Based in Detroit, Michigan, US, Granger will report to Tim Leiweke, CEO of OVG.

Granger joins the company from the Sacramento Kings and Sacramento Basketball Holdings, where he served as president. Before joining the Kings, Granger worked in various capacities for the NBA for 14 years.

“[Chris] believes that this is the time for us to be bold, to be entrepreneurial, and to grow this industry”

“As we grow as a company, there are priorities that we have set to guide that growth,” says Leiweke. “First, character, in all aspects of our organisation. Second, a commitment to lead the industry and change the conversation. Third, to not operate in fear. What I admire most about Chris is he is a living example of all three.

“Anyone and everyone that has worked with him knows he is a class act and leads by example. In addition, he is like us, dreaming for what we could be as an industry and thinking outside the box. And finally, he believes that this is the time for us to be bold, to be entrepreneurial, and to grow this industry. All of us at OVG, our facilities, and our fans, are looking forward to Chris’ leadership.”

Granger added: “I am excited and humbled to join Tim Leiweke, Irving Azoff, and the incredibly talented team at Oak View Group. Venues, arenas, and stadiums increasingly play an irreplaceable role in society. They bring diverse people together to cheer, to sing, to vote, to protest, and to celebrate.

“We are seeing facilities lead the way in areas of public health, public safety, and sustainability. I look forward to contributing to the OVG vision of making a positive contribution to the world through our venues. I can’t wait to get started.”

 


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Arena Network appoints new booking director

Arena Network, the association of US arenas and large theatres, has appointed Justin Kujawa as booking director.

In his new role, Kujawa, who joins from Nederlander Concerts in Los Angeles, will focus on identifying and pursuing national and regional bookings for the association’s 40-plus member venues.

Before joining Nederland Concerts, where he booked some of the premiere concert venues in California (including the Greek Theatre, Vina Robles Amphitheater and the Forum), Jujawa worked for 17 years at Live Nation, starting his career in operations at Deer Creek Music Center in Indianapolis and working his way up to talent buyer.

“I’m looking forward to driving more content to our venues”

“My years of experience as a talent buyer in many different markets throughout the country has provided me with a unique perspective to help Arena Network’s venue members,” says Kujawa.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to build strong relationships with agents and promoters alike, and I’m looking forward to driving more content to our venues and getting to know many new markets and venue execs in the process.”

“We are thrilled to have Justin joining our team,” adds Arena Network CEO Andrew Prince. “As we all navigate this unprecedented time and venues welcome back fans, having someone with his experience and knowledge will be an incredible asset to all our members. We couldn’t be happier to have Justin with us as we continue to grow our membership and services.”

 


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WME parent Endeavor appoints new director

Endeavor Group Holdings, the parent company of WME Entertainment, has appointed veteran technology and media executive Jackie Reses to its board of directors.

Reses is CEO of investment firm Post House Capital and previously served as executive chair of financial services company Square. Prior to joining Square in 2015, Reses was chief development officer for technology Yahoo, and also served on the board of Alibaba Group.

She started her career at Goldman Sachs and later led the US media group at private-equity firm Apax Partners for 11 years.

Reses serves on the boards of Affirm Holdings, Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, TaskUs and ContextLogic, and is also chair of the Economic Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

“I’m looking forward to partnering with Endeavor’s leadership to develop strategies that fully leverage the power of its diverse portfolio”

“We’re honoured to welcome Jackie to our board of directors,” says Ariel Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor. “Her leadership across corporate finance and enterprise technology, combined with her innate talent for driving innovation and cultivating culture, will be incredibly valuable to Endeavor as we continue charting our future as a public company.”

Reses joins a board of directors that includes Emanuel, Endeavor executive chairman Patrick Whitesell, Silver Lake co-CEO Egon Durban, Silver Lake managing director Stephan Evans, Uncle Nearest CEO Fawn Weaver, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and former Xerox Corporation and Veon chair and CEO Ursula Burns.

“It’s great to join Endeavor’s board at this pivotal time,” adds Reses. “I’m looking forward to partnering with Endeavor’s leadership to develop strategies that fully leverage the power of its diverse portfolio and help propel its continued growth across the sports and entertainment landscape.”

Endeavor increased turnover by nearly US$500 million and paid off $600m of debt in the second financial quarter of 2021.

 


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