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BookMyShow lays off 200 as restrictions continue

Indian ticketing giant BookMyShow has laid off another 200 employees as coronavirus restrictions continue to hurt demand for live entertainment and cinema.

BookMyShow, headquartered in Mumbai (Bombay), is India’s biggest online ticket seller, shifting as much as 50% of the movie-mad country’s cinema tickets and ticketing many of its major live music events. It also operates as a co-promoter for international concerts, such as U2’s historic Mumbai show in December 2019, one of the last before the pandemic hit.

New initiatives such as the launch of livestreaming solution BookMyShow Online in mid-2020 haven’t been enough to avoid further redundancies, following an initial round of 270 lay-offs last May, according to CEO Ashish Hemrajani, who announced the redundancies on Twitter.

Hemrajani tweets that BookMyShow has been forced to let go of “200 of the most incredibly talented and performance-driven individuals” who had been been “handpicked and curated over years”, and that announcing the lay-offs was the “right thing” to do to enable them to find new jobs quickly.

“I’m sure we will all come out of this stronger”

He has asked other companies who have openings for the staff to send him a message on Twitter or email we.r.hr@bookmyshow.com with information.

“I had two thoughts: one of managing optics, or two just doing the right thing,” Hemrajani explains. “And for me, finding each of them a new home, where a new journey can begin, was the easy choice. So if you have leads, please DM me and we will do the needful.

“They will contribute incredibly to the growth of your wonderful firms. I’m sure we will all come out stronger.”

At press time, India had around 60,000 daily cases of Covid-19. While heavy restrictions remain in many areas, some states, such as West Bengal and the Punjab, are again opening up, with restaurants, bars and cinemas allowed to operate at 50% capacity.

 


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India: State of Hindipendents

If there were an award for the greatest potential touring market, India would be on that stage, brandishing the trophy, year in, year out. With a population nudging 1.4 billion and projected to surpass that of China by 2022, India is about as vast as countries get. Nonetheless, when a big band comes to town, the comparative rarity of the event still makes global headlines.

U2’s show in December at Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium, the very last stop on the fifth leg of The Joshua Tree Tour, wasn’t the first superstar show to come to India – far from it: The Stones played Mumbai and Bangalore in 2003, while Beyoncé and Shakira came in 2007, Metallica in 2011, Coldplay in 2016, and Ed Sheeran in 2015 and 2017, with other significant visitors in between.

But each major concert fires up the expectation that India’s biggest cities could soon become routine destinations for the world’s biggest artists. And U2’s show before a crowd of 42,590, staged by local ticketing giant BookMyShow in partnership with Live Nation, got the country dreaming once more.

“There were a lot of reservations from everybody coming into India,” says BookMyShow CEO and founder Ashish Hemrajani, who freely concedes that India has failed to meet international expectations for live shows in the past. “It was the first outing for U2 here; it was the first show of this scale and magnitude; it was the last show of the tour. There was a lot riding on it and everyone was on tenterhooks.”

BookMyShow has been scaling up its promoting exploits in recent years, bringing Cirque du Soleil, NBA pre-season games, an adapted Hindi Aladdin and the Coldplay-headlined Mumbai edition of the Global Citizen festival, but Hemrajani says U2 represented a new level and a new set of pressures.

“There were a lot of reservations from everybody coming into India”

“We have got a great team in India, but nothing prepares you for dealing with Arthur Fogel, with Jake Berry and the whole team,” he says. “But if you talk to the folks that we dealt with, they were very pleasantly surprised by the level of professionalism they found.”

More than anyone else in the Indian business, Hemrajani has both a vision and a platform to bring about a revolution in the nation’s live entertainment offering. BookMyShow sells between 35% and 50% of all cinema tickets in a cinema-mad nation (“we are a hot, dusty country, which is an assault on all your senses, and cinema is the cheapest, most comfortable form of indoor entertainment,” he explains), and played a part in the massive success of the Indian Premier League (IPL) of cricket. If Hemrajani judges that India is ripe for some concert-going, the chances are he knows what he is talking about.

The same feeling has recently been in the air across the country. The preceding month, also at DY Patil Stadium, Katy Perry and Dua Lipa inaugurated the OnePlus Music Festival, along with local acts Amit Trivedi, Ritviz, as we keep searching and The Local Train. Both of the top-billers were new to the market, and again, the show was an unconventional labour of love, this time organised by the local operation of Chinese smartphone brand OnePlus, which rivals Samsung and Apple in India.

As OnePlus India general manager Vikas Agarwal told India’s The Telegraph newspaper: “[We were] not looking to organise everything by ourselves, but the country [was] not yet ready to organise such a large-scale event. [So] starting from the artist selection to the whole conceptualisation of the event, logistics – everything was done for the first time by the brand. I hope more such events will be organised in India.”

And then, of course, came Covid-19, to which we will inevitably return in a minute.

“The folks that we dealt with were very pleasantly surprised by the level of professionalism they found”

Still a mostly rural nation of numerous languages and cultures, heavily regionalised laws and huge inequality, India has always had more pressing priorities than slotting conveniently into a Western live music model. All the same, its entertainment market is highly evolved. The homegrown cinema industry enjoys a sophisticated, mostly mobile ticketing infrastructure, spearheaded by BookMyShow, with strong competition lately from Alibaba-backed Paytm. Both have diverse businesses and are busy across many sectors, including cricket, theatre, food and mobile payments.

Online ticketing was reckoned to be worth $330 million in 2017, according to Indian management consultant RedSeer, whose prediction of $580m in revenues this year has sadly been scuppered by recent events. In the past, the lion’s share of online ticket sales (55%), was for movies, with sport on 25% and events taking the remaining 20%, though both the latter categories are growing.

EDM, in particular, has found a booming home in India, where there is a large network of clubs and established festivals, from OML’s multi-city Bacardi NH7 Weekender to the monster Sunburn in Pune.

“The electronic music scene in the country has developed into its own industry and it’s spread to wider parts of the country,” says Dev Bhatia of dance music management and booking agency UnMute. “Having said that, I still feel we’re barely scratching the surface. Considering India will [soon] have five to six hundred million people under the age of 35 with cell phones and accessibility, the potential is endless.”

That potential is currently on pause. At the time of writing, India was attempting to relax its notably strict lockdown conditions even as it faced a record spike in Covid-19 infections. In a country where many millions of informal  workers live on a daily wage, the economy can’t stand idle for long.

 


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India’s BookMyShow launches livestreaming platform

BookMyShow, India’s largest online ticketing company, today (1 July) launched a pay-per-view streaming platform for live events.

BookMyShow Online will showcase performances across music, comedy and the performing arts and will be accessible via the BookMyShow app and website. A subscription-based model will also be rolled out in the next few months.

One of the first events to appear on the platform will make its debut is Sunburn Home Festival, the virtual edition of Goan EDM festival Sunburn, which is taking place on 11 and 12 July with sets from Bassjackers, Vini Vici, Mattn and Ummet Ozcan.

Tickets cost Rs99 (€1.20) for one day or Rs199 (€2.40) for both days.

Other upcoming events include shows by Bang Bang Romeo and Electric Enemy, and theatre workshops with veterans like Puneet Issar, Rohini Hattangadi, Rakesh Bedi, and Anant Mahadevan.

During lockdown, BookMyShow has facilitated the discovery of online entertainment on its platform, with currently almost half a million viewers accessing virtual events via its service per week.

With BookMyShow Online, the company intends to put all events behind a paywall, with prices varying per shows and platinum options, including post-performance Q&As, available for a greater price.

“Our latest video streaming platform BookMyShow Online was born out of this need to make virtual live entertainment a frictionless and hassle-free viewing experience”

“Sensing the shift in our users’ appetite for entertainment during this lockdown, we were agile enough to change tack by introducing virtual in-home entertainment offerings in India and other global markets,” says Parikshit Dar, co-founder and director of BookMyShow.

“Our latest video streaming platform BookMyShow Online was born out of this need to make virtual live entertainment a frictionless and hassle-free viewing experience.”

The streaming platform will initially be able to host over 50,000 concurrent viewers per minute, with the company reportedly testing a feature to take this up to 100,000.

“The platform is built for scale,” says Dar. “This tech allows us the ability to spin multiple live events with our livestreaming capability, enhance the user experience, and provide a lightning-fast video player for streaming content.”

The company has partnered with global video technology platform Brightcove to power BookMyShow Online.

In May, BookMyShow announced cost-cutting measures including the lay-off or furloughing of 270 employees and company-wide salary reductions.

Read the Indian market report in the latest edition of IQ Magazine here.

Photo: Preeti Photography/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)


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India sees live events boom in 2019

The number of tickets sold for live events in India increased significantly in 2019, according to new data from ticketing platform BookMyShow.

The number of events listed on BookMyShow – valued at US$1 billion and “easily the dominant force in Indian ticketing”, according to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019 – jumped 23% last year, to more than 17,500, with concerts the second-biggest attraction after ever-popular cricket.

Live events “wholly executed by” (ie sold only via) BookMyShow, meanwhile, increased 156% in 2019, reports India’s Moneycontrol.

Among the most popular live events were Sunburn festival U2’s first Indian show

Among the most popular live music events in India, a market of some 1.4bn people, last year were the 2019 edition of the Sunburn EDM festival in Goa, which was attended by 300,000 fans, and U2’s first-ever Indian show – of which more than a quarter of those who attended were first-time attendees to a live event in Mumbai (Bombay).

Elsewhere, the CEO of BookMyShow’s chief rival, Alibaba-backed Paytm, Shreyas Srinivasan, says it sold more than 7.5 million tickets in 2019, with a 25% increase in the number of events ticketed.

While live events contribute an estimated 50% of India’s online ticketing revenues, it remains films which are doing the biggest business: Avengers: Endgame was BookMyShow’s biggest event of 2019, according to the Eastern Mirror, with 8.6 million tickets sold.

 


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Major moves: consolidation sweeps the ticketing sector

The past 12 months have seen big-money deals by global firms who have been expanding their reach through buying up existing companies.

Eventim’s major expansion into the €800 million French live music market will see it establish a joint venture with the retailer by the end of 2019. Under the proposed new structure, Eventim would acquire 48% of France Billet, with an option to increase its holding to a majority stake over the next four years. It is folding its Eventim French business into the partnership, and the established brands – which in addition to Francebillet.com include Fnacspectacles.com and Billetreduc.com – will remain in operation.

This move will be a blow for Paris-headquartered multimedia conglomeration Vivendi, which owns the local company Digitick and was the third-largest competitor behind France Billet and Ticketmaster.

Leapfrogging its rivals, Eventim has secured the top position in the ticketing space. However, it currently does not have a promoter presence in France, unlike Live Nation or Vivendi, the latter of which owns the venues L’Olympia (1,996-cap.) and Theâtre de L’Œuvre (326-cap.) in Paris, as well as Olympia Production, the operator of a number of French festivals including Les Déferlantes (12,000-cap.) and Garorock (45,000-cap.).

In 2017-18, Eventim bought three significant promoters in Italy – Vertigo, Friends and Partners, and D’Alessandro e Galli (Di and Gi) – solidifying its brand TicketOne as the dominant ticketer in the country after Ticketmaster opened operations there in 2017.

On the other side of the world, Live Nation Entertainment’s (LNE) $480m decision to buy a 51% stake in Ocesa Entertainment, the largest promoter in Latin America, and owner of Ticketmaster Mexico, is noteworthy.

Promoting about 3,100 shows a year, Ocesa reportedly sold 3.8m tickets in 2018. Ticketmaster Mexico is comfortably the country’s biggest ticket seller, with around 37m tickets sold each year.

While LNE and Ocesa have had a long partnership, this move significantly enhances the global entertainment company’s footprint

While LNE and Ocesa have had a long partnership through touring, festivals and the Ticketmaster brand, this move significantly enhances the global entertainment company’s footprint.

It demonstrates LNE’s growing confidence in the Latin American market and will likely lead to an increasing number of tours by international talent to the continent, and potentially further acquisitions of promoters, ticketing companies or venues.

What impact it will have on Ticketmaster in the US, where the second language is Spanish, remains to be seen. The Spanish- language market in the US is arguably currently underserved, and this could be seen as an internal growth opportunity for the global behemoth.

But more importantly, this could be part of a wider move by LNE into Latin America, where the firm historically has no major presence. Last year it acquired one of Argentina’s top promoters, DF Entertainment, while earlier in 2018, it took a stake in one of the largest music festivals in the world, Rock in Rio (100,000-cap), recently increasing its holding to 60%, which could be a sign that Ticketmaster is preparing to make a move into Brazil. Does this indicate a strategy of expansion across the region? We’ll have to wait and see.

LNE-owned Ticketmaster also bought Australia and New Zealand’s most significant independent ticketing company, Moshtix, in February, further expanding its presence in a market where it competes fiercely with TEG’s Ticketek.

Although it’s not likely to shift the balance of power, Ticketmaster’s move will add another indie brand to its suite of ticketing platforms.

Meanwhile, TEG grew its Asian reach by buying the Philippines-based ticketing company TicketWorld. This adds to its existing interests in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Macau. As well as major international tours by the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Katy Perry, TicketWorld has a strong presence in the local theatre market, and provides ticket services to Philippines’ venues including Solaire Resort and Casino, Resorts World Manila, BGC Arts Center and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

What we can say is that the last 12 months have seen no sign of the trend for consolidation slowing down – and it may just be hotting up even further

“We see great opportunities in many Asian markets and our strategy puts us on course to becoming a truly pan-Asian promoter,” said TEG CEO Geoff Jones at the time.

While not strictly new acquisitions, DEAG continued its policy of wholly owning companies by completing the purchase of the MyTicket platform, which going forward will be powered by the Secutix SaaS solution, while Eventim completed its takeover of German online movie ticketing platform Kinoheld and Scandinavian ticketing solution Venuepoint.

So what’s next? In the fast-moving world of ticketing, it’s hard to say.

India’s BookMyShow sells some 20m tickets a month, mainly in the cinema sector, but is looking to grow further into live entertainment. In 2018, COO of non-films at BookMyShow Albert Almeida told the Economic Times the firm wants to increase its revenues from non-cinema events from 30% to 50% by 2020.

It is one of the ticketing partners at the newly opened Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai and is addressing a lack of infrastructure in its home country by building its touring venues and producing its own shows. At a recent fundraising round, the company was valued at $1 billion, and there is still huge potential in the country of 1.3bn people. But maybe it will look to acquire in new markets, or further consolidate its position in the Middle East.

Another interesting area is the growing trend of Chinese companies taking an interest in Western music companies (for example, Tencent acquired a 10% stake in Universal Music, with an option to take another 10% in a year). Could we see a Chinese firm take an interest in a ticketing company outside of its homeland?

What we can say is that the last 12 months have seen no sign of the trend for consolidation slowing down – and it may just be hotting up even further.

For more insight into the state of the global ticketing industry, read IQ’s International Ticketing Yearbook 2019.


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U2 announce first-ever Indian show

U2’s Live Nation-promoted The Joshua Tree Tour is wrapping up in Mumbai on 15 December, in the band’s first performance in India over their 40-year career.

The Mumbai concert, taking place at the 55,000-capacity DY Patil Stadium, will be produced by Live Nation Global Touring and brought to India by the country’s leading ticketing platform BookMyShow.

The tour will also bring U2 to Singapore, Seoul and Manila for the first time.

The Indian date marks the end of U2’s 2019 The Joshua Tree Tour, a continuation of its record-breaking world tour, which grossed a total of US$316 million in 2017.

The 2019 tour kicks off on 8 November at Auckland, New Zealand’s 30,000-capacity Mt Smart Stadium. The band then head to Australia for dates at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium (52,500-cap.), Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium (53,359-cap.), Adelaide’s Oval (53,500-cap.), Sydney Cricket Ground (46,000-cap.) and Perth’s Optus Stadium (60,000-cap.).

“We have been around the world with The Joshua Tree and we can’t think of a better place to celebrate the end of this tour”

The tour continues to the National Stadium in Singapore (55,000-cap.), Saitama Super Arena (37,000-cap.) in Tokyo, Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome (20,000-cap.) and the Phillipine Arena (55,000-cap.) in Manila, before ending in Mumbai.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment for the last 40 years,” U2 frontman Bono told the Times of India, adding that the band “weren’t sure” in the past if there was a “large enough audience” for them in India.

“We have been around the world with The Joshua Tree and we can’t think of a better place to celebrate the end of this tour,” says U2 guitarist the Edge. “Mumbai, India, we’re coming for you, I hope you’re ready!”

Tickets for the Mumbai concert go on sale on Tuesday 1 October at 12 p.m. (IST), via BookMyShow and Live Nation. Presale for U2.com subscribers opens on September 24, with phonePe presale beginning on 26 September. Prices range from INR3,000 ($42) to INR14,000 ($196).

A full list of tour dates can be found here.

 


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Dubai “go-to” tour destination with arena success

Dubai’s 17,000-capacity Coca-Cola Arena, which opened its doors three months ago, has already hosted shows by Maroon 5, Westlife, the 1975 and Alicia Keys, playing a key role in placing the United Arab Emirates on the international touring map.

The multipurpose arena was born as part of a collaboration between Dubai-based developer Meraas and AEG’s Asian/ Australasian venues arm, AEG Ogden.

The largest venue of its kind in the region, Meraas and AEG Ogden hope the arena will become the premier destination in the Middle East’s burgeoning live events scene.

The arena is fully enclosed and climate controlled, transforming Dubai from a “winter-only” touring destination into a year-round option for promoters. Floor space measuring 3,870 square metres and a variety of seating and stage configurations allow for a range of event types.

“Dubai is already a major entertainment hub for the entire region and the opening of Coca-Cola Arena has helped to further establish the city as the go-to destination for acts visiting the Middle East as part of global tour schedules,” comments AEG Ogden’s chief executive of Coca-Cola Arena, Guy Ngata.

“Dubai is already a major entertainment hub for the entire region and the opening of Coca-Cola Arena has helped to further establish the city as the go-to destination for acts visiting the Middle East”

“Meraas has shown a great vision to expand Dubai’s live entertainment offering and in doing so has an asset that will become one of the world’s great live venues.

“Together with Coca-Cola and all of our partners and stakeholders, there is a real passion in establishing the venue as the perfect fit for international touring artists, productions, sporting activity and shows of all genres,” adds Ngata.

Coca-Cola announced a ten-year naming-rights agreement with AEG Ogden in April, in what the soft drinks giant deemed a “milestone deal”. The arena also counts Indian ticketing platform BookMyShow among its partners, signifying the first global arena deal for the company.

“Despite only being open for a few months, Coca-Cola Arena is already firmly established as one of the city’s biggest attractions,” continues Ngata. “We look forward to hosting even more great live acts and events as we develop and expand the events industry in the UAE to even greater levels of success.”

Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena opened on 6 June, with a performance by Canadian comedian Russell Peters, before Maroon 5 made the arena’s musical debut on 14 June. A list of upcoming events can be found here.

 


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MSG names Dan Fleeter esports head

The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has appointed Dan Fleeter as its head of esports and chief operating officer of Counter Logic Gaming (CLG).

Fleeter, who helped to initiate the partnership between MSG and North American esports team CLG in 2017, has worked at MSG since 2015, most recently serving as vice president of corporate development for MSG.

The new esports head already has a seat on the board of directors for CLG, which he deems as “one of the best esports organisations in the world”.

CLG, founded in 2010 by owner George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis, a former star League of Legends (LOL) competitor, has some of the most successful teams in video gaming.

In his new role, Fleeter will oversee all business operations for CLG, focusing on growing the brand, forming partnerships and enhancing fan engagement.

“Dan has been at the forefront and played a key role in the growth of MSG’s presence in the esports industry”

He will also develop relationships with major game publishers and leagues across the esports industry, as well as helping to create events that showcase esports at MSG’s venues across the country.

Fleeter says it is an “incredible honour” to take on the new role. “I admire what they [CLG] have built and cannot wait to help continue that growth.”

“Dan has been at the forefront and played a key role in the growth of MSG’s presence in the esports industry,” comments MSG president Andrew Lustgarten. “We know he is the perfect fit for this leadership position.”

CLG founder Georgallidis says Fleeter’s “ambition, drive and preparation are infectious and exactly what CLG needs to ensure continued success in all areas of the organisation.”

Music-industry partnerships with esports organisations have become increasingly commonplace over the past few years, with DEAG, AEG, BookMyShow, Creative Artists Agency, TEG and Vivendi among those to get involved in the US$1 billion esports sector.

 


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BookMyShow expands esports arm as share sale looms

India’s leading ticketing platform BookMyShow is making moves in the esports sector, as the company’s valuation looks set to surpass $1 billion.

The Indian ticketing company has recently made hires within its new esports category.

BookMyShow’s foray into the fast-growing esports market began in December, when the company provided ticketing for the Mumbai edition of international esports festival Dream Hack.

The ticketer joins a long list of music industry businesses to dip their toes into the esports sector.

Companies that have invested in, or partnered with, major esports competitions and teams in recent years include DEAG, AEG, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), TEG in Australia and Madison Square Garden Company (MSG).

The ticketer joins a long list of music industry businesses to dip their toes into the esports sector

The development comes as BookMyShow prepares to sell a stake which will see its valuation surpass the US$1 billion mark.

The 10 to 12% stake is being eyed up by investors including private equity firm General Atlantic, investment bank Goldman Sachs and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek, which owns a stake in CAA.

BookMyShow has raised over $220m in funding since 2007, most recently receiving $100m in a round led by CAA majority owner, TPG.

The ticketing giant has established a presence outside India in recent months, signing a five-year partnership with Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena in May.

BookMyShow is also looking to move into cashless event payments, following an April investment in payment technology firm AtomX.

 


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BookMyShow enters Middle East with Coca-Cola Arena deal

BookMyShow, India’s largest online ticketing company, has expanded into the Middle East after signing a five-year deal with AEG Ogden’s Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai.

Under the agreement, BookMyShow will be the preferred ticketing platform for all events at the 17,000-capacity arena, the biggest in the Middle East, as the UAE looks to cement its place as a viable touring destination.

Formerly referred to as the Dubai Arena, AEG’s Asian/ Australasian venues arm AEG Ogden recently signed a ten-year naming-rights deal with soft drinks giant Coca-Cola.

The ticketing platform also aims to provide content for the Coca-Cola Arena in music, comedy, sports and other live events over the next five years. The partnership kicks off with Westlife’s Twenty Tour on 29 August, which is being co-promoted by BookMyShow and Live Nation.

“The Middle East is a critical yet under-served market when it comes to such entertainment experiences for consumers,” says BookMyShow founder and chief executive Ashish Hemrajani.

“The partnership will enable us to bring the best of the world’s and India’s entertainment experiences to consumers in the Middle East”

“The partnership with the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai will enable us to bring the best of the world’s and India’s entertainment experiences to consumers in the Middle East.”

The partnership is the first global arena deal for the Mumbai-based ticketing company and the next step in its international expansion. BookMyShow announced its first foray into sales outside of India in June 2018, with the London West End production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical The King and I.

Guy Ngata, chief executive of the Coca-Cola Arena, comments: “Our partnership with BookMyShow is based around a number of core elements, including live event promotions and preferred ticketing, which enables the vast experience that it has developed in India and South East Asia to be applied in Dubai.”

BookMyShow has received a total of US$224.5m since 2007, most recently securing $100m in an investment round led by Creative Artists Agency owner TPG. According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018, the company has a virtual monopoly of India’s online ticketing market, with a 78% market share.

The company recently invested in payment technology company AtomX, to enable the use of cashless solutions at BookMyShow events.

 


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