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Updated: AEG buys out AXS co-owners to take full ownership

Live entertainment powerhouse AEG has taken full control of its ticketing business AXS from co-owners TPG Capital and Rockbridge Growth Equity, as first reported by Billboard.

AEG, a founding partner in the ticketing platform, previously held a 38% stake with private-equity firms TPG Capital – the majority owner of Creative Artists Agency and owner of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group – and Dan Gilbert’s Rockbridge Growth Equity together holding the remaining 62%.

AEG established AXS in partnership with Outbox Technologies in 2011, following the merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation a year earlier.

In 2015, AXS merged with ticketing company Veritix, owned by Rockbridge’s Gilbert.

In 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that TPG and Rockbridge were exploring options to sell their stake in AXS. It was believed the stake could go for as much as US$250 million.

The purchase comes after months of negotiations, with bids by CTS Eventim and ticketing startup Rival falling through. LionTree Advisors acted as financial advisor to Cirque Du Soleil, Outbox Holdings and Flash Seats in connection with the transaction.

“In just over eight years, AXS now sells nearly 50 million tickets annually around the world and this acquisition positions both AEG and AXS for continued growth,” says Dan Beckerman, president and chief executive of AEG.

“As a team owner, music promoter and venue owner/operator, ticketing is core to AEG’s business and this transaction allows us to more closely align our global asset portfolio,” adds Beckerman.

“AEG’s significant investment is a clear endorsement of our business strategy, technical expertise and growth potential”

“As an AXS client, we are focused on delivering innovation and product development that enhances the fan experience and creates opportunities to integrate data and generate new revenue streams for all AXS clients.”

Bryan Perez, chief executive of AXS comments that the transaction will allow the ticketing company “to further expand our footprint and product offerings.”

“AEG’s significant investment is a clear endorsement of our business strategy, technical expertise and growth potential,” continues Perez.

“Since 2011, our mission has been to transform the ticketing industry through innovative products, delivering the right ticket to the right fan and the right price and this transaction provides us the opportunity to accelerate that vision globally.”

AXS provides ticketing services to over 167 professional sports teams around the world and over 300 venues. The company is the official ticketing partner for venues including London’s O2 Arena (20,000-cap.) and SSE Arena, Wembley (12,500-cap.), the Los Angeles Staples Center (21,000-cap.), New York’s PlayStation Theatre (2,100-cap.) and the Target Centre in Minneapolis (19,356-cap.).

The company, which rolled out its resale solution in the UK in April, has been the official resale ticketing partner for AEG in North America since 2018.

AXS also recently expanded into Japan, where it is a joint venture partner with Yahoo Japan Corporation and Avex Entertainment in Passrevo, the ticketing entity behind Yahoo! Tickets.

For a comprehensive review of the state of the global ticketing industry, with in-depth explorations of recent consolidation in the sector, new ticketing tech and individual country markets, read IQ’s International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, available here.

 


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FanFair Alliance launches guide to tackle touting

FanFair Alliance, the music industry campaign established in 2016 to tackle “industrial-scale online ticket touting”, has today (Tuesday 17 September) published new guidance to help artists and managers to tackle secondary ticketing.

The guidance, which was developed alongside new model terms and conditions published by the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) and is backed by the UK’s Music Managers Forum (MMF), can be downloaded here.

The guide advocates that artists, event organisers and venues make two clear and upfront statements in their terms and conditions of sale – that tickets are for consumers only to purchase, and that audiences are permitted to resell tickets for the price they paid or less, and that a consumer-friendly resale or reallocation mechanism is provided.

The alliance hopes that the cost-free measures will empower artists and organisers to employ a wider range of acts to prevent exploitation of fans, while promoting fairer ticket resale practices.

The publication follows major developments in the fight against the UK’s secondary ticketing market, including the provision of detailed information about the tickets listed on secondary sites – in keeping with consumer protection law – an end to misleading marketing practices such as “drip pricing” and the suspension of infamous secondary site Viagogo from Google search advertising.

The introduction of “consumer friendly” resale services, including AXS Official Resale, Ticketmaster’s Ticket Exchange, See Ticket’s Fan-to-Fan and CTS Eventim’s FanSALE, has also given fans alternative resale options.

According to STAR chief executive Jonathan Brown, the use of such authorised resale systems “helps to combat unwanted excesses in the secondary ticket market.”

“As well as disrupting the practices of dedicated touts, our aim is that [artists] will help promote a fairer and more transparent ticketing market”

Despite developments, YouGov data, viewed by FanFair Alliance, suggests online ticket touting remains a concern for live music fans, with 79% of concertgoers surveyed in April 2019 stating that “too many tickets end up on reselling sites for inflated prices” and 67% affirming that artists “should do more” to prevent this practice.

A recent decision by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to halt legal actions against Viagogo prompted further concerns from anti-tout groups and live industry professionals.

“The message from audiences remains pretty clear and consistent,” says FanFair campaign manager Adam Webb, who recently aired his thoughts on the continued need for action against Viagogo in IQ. “They’re still sick of exploitative online ticket touts, and they expect artists, event organisers and venues to do something about it.

“And here’s the good news: they can. The UK is now leading the way in the fightback against unscrupulous secondary ticketing practices. Artists have been empowered to take action.

“There’s a number of strategies they can pursue, but the no-cost recommendations in this guidance are open to all. As well as disrupting the practices of dedicated touts, our aim is that they will help promote a fairer and more transparent ticketing market.”

MMF chief executive Annabella Coldrick agrees, stating that “artists and their teams now have real power to take back control of their ticket prices by using simple T&Cs and offering consumer-friendly resale to fans,” urging “all managers to read this guide and use it.”

The full guide can be read online for free here.

 


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AXS adds former Eventbrite execs to business team

AEG ticketing partner AXS has added two former Eventbrite executives to its sales team, as the company continues to grow its music sector.

Shaun Eidson joins the team as vice president of sales for music and Stephanie Streeter takes on the role of senior director of sales for music.

Combined, the new hires have more than two decades worth of industry experience across business development, sales and strategic partnerships.

Having previously worked at fellow ticketing companies Eventbrite and StubHub, Eidson will develop and manage engagements with music venues, promoters and artists to implement the AXS platform in international markets.

Streeter, who helped lead the migration of Ticketfly clients over to the Eventbrite platform, will develop partnerships with music festivals, venues and promoters in her newly created role at AXS.

“Shaun and Stephanie bring deep knowledge of what artists and venues require from their ticketing partner”

Eventbrite now has fewer than 100 clients left to migrate, according to a recent Q2 financial report.

“The AXS platform is pushing the pace of innovation for the music industry at every level, from clubs and theatres to arenas, and we continue to add partners that are looking for more sophisticated and robust tools to help grow their businesses,” says Rob Sine, chief revenue officer for AXS, who both Streeter and Eidson will report to.

“Shaun and Stephanie bring deep knowledge of what artists and venues require from their ticketing partner to continue to serve the ever-evolving needs of artists, promoters, and fans and we are thrilled to have them join the AXS team.”

AXS launched its official price-capped resale platform at AEG-owned London arenas the O2 (20,000-cap.) and the SSE Arena (12,500) earlier this year.

 


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AXS Resale launches at the O2, SSE Arena Wembley

AEG and ticketing partner AXS have launched AXS’s Official Resale solution at AEG-owned venues the O2 and the SSE Arena, Wembley, preventing the resale of tickets for profit.

AXS first announced the UK launch of its price-capped secondary ticketing platform, then called AXS Marketplace, in June, naming the two London venues as its first partners.

AXS’ resale platform is now the only legitimate way to resell tickets that guarantee entry to both the 20,000-capacity O2 and 12,500-capacity SSE Arena, Wembley. Customers that buy tickets from other resale platforms risk having their tickets cancelled and entry denied.

AXS Official Resale allows fans to resell their tickets to others at a fair price, in the event they are no longer able to attend a show. Buyers can be assured of the legitimacy of tickets as the transaction takes place on the AXS system.

Fans will be able to see both primary and resale tickets together, giving them the choice from all available options in one place. A 10% cap on the original price paid for a ticket will be applied to resale tickets to prevent touting.

All tickets sold through the venue websites and via AXS.com will also utilise Flash Mobile Delivery, using unique digital identification technology to assign each individual ticket. This includes a dynamically changing barcode system to prevent ticket duplication and allows fans to share tickets easily with friends.

“The entire customer journey from buying tickets to attending a show will improve as a result of this new technology”

“We welcome this new safer and fairer option for visitors to our venue,” says Steve Sayer, vice president and general manager of the O2. “The new technology from our partner AXS will allow fans to access the venue in a simpler way and guarantee their tickets – whether primary or resale – are authentic, avoiding any disappointment.”

Vice president and general manager of the SSE Arena, Wembley, John Drury says “the ability to offer a fan-friendly ticketing service and resales at a fair price has long been our key goal.

“The entire customer journey from buying tickets to attending a show will improve as a result of this new technology,” adds Drury.

Robert Byrne, managing director of AXS Europe believes the technology will be a “real game-changer”.

“AXS is proud to provide a fully integrated platform across both the primary and resale markets, giving everyone the opportunity to sell and purchase tickets at a capped, fair price. This will help prevent ticket touting and help combat illegal counterfeiting,” comments the AXS managing director.

The new ticketing technology will be used for the first time at the O2 from 14 April and at the SSE Arena, Wembley from 18 April, and applies to all new events going on-sale.

AXS has been the official resale ticketing partner for AEG in North America since September 2018, serving such venues as the Los Angeles Staples Centre (21,000-cap.), New York’s PlayStation Theatre (2,100-cap.) and the Target Centre in Minneapolis (19,356-cap.).

 


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