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Live Nation acquires Songkick assets, settles suit

Live Nation today announced the acquisition of much of the remaining assets of the company formerly known as Songkick, Complete Entertainment Resources Group (CERG), settling out of court a costly legal dispute set to go to trial later this month.

Songkick’s concert discovery platform was acquired by Warner Music Group last July – an acquisition that specifically excluded its ticketing business, formerly known as Crowdsurge, and the “pending litigation” associated with it. As of October, a “skeleton crew” of around a dozen ticketing staff had been retained to work full time on the court case.

Live Nation’s acquisitions include Songkick’s ticketing platform, anti-touting algorithm, API applications and portfolio of patents, all of which it acquired for an undisclosed sum.

“We are pleased that we were able to resolve this dispute and avoid protracted and costly legal proceedings”

A source close to the situation tells IQ Songkick additionally accepted a US$110m settlement offer to avoid the suit – which centred on alleged abuses of the Live Nation’s “monopoly power” to stifle competition in the US ticketing market – going to trial.

“We are pleased that we were able to resolve this dispute and avoid protracted and costly legal proceedings, while also acquiring valuable assets,” says Joe Berchtold, president of Live Nation.

Matt Jones, CERG’s CEO, adds: “We are glad to have resolved this litigation and thank all the employees, artists and industry partners who contributed so much to our many successes over the last decade.”

 


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Songkick Discovery “not going anywhere” after WMG buy

In contrast to its soon-to-be defunct ticketing platform, Songkick’s concert discovery app is “not going anywhere” following its purchase by Warner Music Group (WMG), the company has said.

Recorded music giant WMG acquired “selected assets” of Songkick – ie everything bar its ticketing business and all “pending litigation” associated with its legal battle with Live Nation – in July, with an announcement following earlier this month that its fan-club ticketing platform, formerly known as Crowdsurge, is to shut down at the end of October.

Despite the shuttering of its ticketing business, Songkick CEO Matt Jones said its lawsuit against Live Nation and Ticketmaster – which the company initiated in December 2015 over alleged abuses of the defendants’ “monopoly power” to stifle competition in the US ticketing market – will “continue unabated”. A source close to the situation tells IQ Songkick has retained a “skeleton crew” of “perhaps a dozen” ticketing staff to work full time on the court case.

Perhaps in response to conflicting media reports – articles in Pollstar, Exclaim!BrooklynVegan and elsewhere suggested the entire company is closing up shop – Songkick has moved to clarify that it’s still business as usual for its popular Discovery service, which it says is “still here for you for all of your concert needs”.

“Though we won’t be selling tickets, we’ll always be your trusted home for live music online”

“First things first, we’re not going anywhere!” reads a post on Songkick’s blog. “This summer we, the Songkick Discovery app and team, became part of the Warner Music Group family. Together we’ll be doubling down on our mission to improve the live experience, bring fans and artists closer together and, of course, make sure you never ever miss your favourite artists live. It’s a super exciting step for us, and for our awesome users, and we’re psyched about what the future holds.

“You can still count on us to be the first to tell you about new concerts, and to point you to the fairest, safest places to buy tickets. Though we won’t be selling tickets ourselves, we’ll always be your trusted home for live music online.

“In short, Songkick and [artist platform] Tourbox are still here for you for all of your concert needs. We’re excited to keep moving fast, doing cool shit and putting fans first. So stay tuned for exciting news coming soon  –  and here’s to the future!”

The Songkick–Live Nation trial is set to kick off next month, although IQ understands it is now likely to be delayed until the new year.

 


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Songkick to shutter ticketing division

Songkick is to shut down its ticketing operation at the end of October, founder and CEO Matt Jones has said in an email to clients.

Songkick, a concert discovery platform, has sold tickets since June 2015, when it merged with white-label ticketing platform Crowdsurge, partnering with artists including Adele and Metallica to sell directly to fans through websites and fan clubs. Label giant Warner Music Group acquired “selected assets” of Songkick – everything bar its ticketing business and all associated “pending litigation” – in July.

That litigation concerns a legal battle with Live Nation/Ticketmaster, which the company initiated in December 2015 over alleged abuses of its “monopoly power” to stifle competition. Despite stepping back from ticketing, Jones says the lawsuit, which is set to begin in November, will continue “unabated”.

“I’m sad to write that on 31 October, Songkick will bow to pressure from Live Nation and Ticketmaster and complete the shutdown of all ticketing operations (including the design and maintenance of artist webpages) we began earlier this year when Ticketmaster and Live Nation effectively blocked our US ticketing business,” Jones writes in the letter, first obtained by Variety and confirmed as genuine by IQ. “Songkick’s concert discovery app, which was sold to Warner Music Group in July, will continue uninterrupted under the WMG umbrella.

“Our antitrust, trade secret misappropriation and hacking lawsuit against Live Nation and Ticketmaster will continue unabated, with trial currently scheduled to begin in the second week of November, just a month from now. Many of you receiving this note have helped us immensely as we prepare for our day in court, and even as we shutter our business we will remain focused on pursuing a legal victory and making the live music industry better for artists and fans.”

“Even as we shutter our business we will remain focused on pursuing a legal victory and making the live music industry better for artists and fans”

The lawsuit accuses Stephen Mead and Zeeshan Zaida, two former Crowdsurge/Songkick employees who moved to Ticketmaster, of illegally accessing confidential Songkick information with the intention of turning it over to their new employer, reports Amplify. Both have since exited Ticketmaster.

Jones concludes his letter by thanking all Crowdsurge/Songkick employees and clients, “who [have] worked tirelessly over the last ten years with nothing short of a remarkable passion to better the live experience for artists and fans”.

“If you are an artist, promoter or venue for whom we have sold tickets to a show occurring on a future date, you will be contacted individually over the following three business days to arrange for payment,” he writes. “All outstanding amounts will be paid in full.

“If you are an artist, promoter or venue currently using our services to sell tickets, list shows, store customer data or power parts or all of your website, these services will become unavailable on 27 October. 

On behalf of myself and all of my colleagues, it’s been a pleasure to work with you. Once again: thank you, for everything.”

 


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WMG acquires Songkick discovery platform

Recorded music giant Warner Music Group (WMG), one of the ‘big three’ record labels, has acquired “selected assets” from Songkick, including its concert-discovery app, website and the Songkick trademark.

The surprise acquisition excludes Songkick’s ticketing business – established in June 2015, when it merged with white-label ticketing platform Crowdsurge – and, crucially, the “pending litigation” associated with it. The company has been locked in a legal battle with Live Nation/Ticketmaster since December 2015, when Songkick sued the conglomerate over alleged abuses of its “monopoly power” to stifle competition.

The Songkick app will operate as a standalone brand overseen by WEA, WMG’s artist and label services division. WEA services include sales, distribution, streaming account management and playlisting, analytics, insight, artist websites, VIP experiences, fan clubs and merchandising, and the acquisition will “lead to additional offerings for Songkick users”, says WMG.

At press time the direction of Songkick’s ticketing business is unclear; IQ has requested clarification. WMG is already an investor in Songkick through its parent company, Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, which invested a further US$15 million in last August.

“I’m excited to pass the baton on the discovery service to the great team at WMG, an ideal organisation to carry on this mission and to take it in new, innovative directions”

“Fans all over the world trust Songkick to help them find events featuring the artists they love,” says Tony Harlow, president of WEA. “It’s a passionate, highly engaged music community, always on the lookout for new experiences. Bringing together Songkick’s discovery platform and world-­class technology with our existing e­commerce expertise and global reach represents a powerful step in strengthening and evolving our direct-­to-­fan capabilities.”

Matt Jones, CEO of Songkick, adds: “Songkick was founded on the promise of improving the live experience for fans and the artists they love. Over the years, we have helped tens of millions find their next great live experience, and today I’m excited to pass the baton on the discovery service to the great team at WMG, an ideal organisation to carry on this mission and to take it in new, innovative directions.

“And, on behalf of the many artists and fans we’ve served over the last decade, we are committed to continuing our litigation against Live Nation and Ticketmaster independently.”

WMG’s other interests in live music include promoter Warner Music Live in Finland and, formerly, Nous Productions in France, which was last August acquired by Live Nation.

 


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