NFTs: Umek to sell rights to live show as a token
Music analytics and data platform Viberate will tomorrrow be the first company to test the concept of a ‘live event NFT’ by selling the rights to a live performance as a non-fungible token.
The upcoming NFT ‘drop’ – ie the release, and subsequent auction, of the blockchain-based tokens – will start on 29 April at 8pm UK time (3pm EST) and run for 24 hours. Focusing on the work of techno DJ Umek, the drop will see buyers bid for rights one of three remixes of Umek’s 1999 hit ‘Lanicor‘, a livestreamed concert, or an in-person live performance.
Bidding for the livestream NFT begins at US$2,500, with the concert NFT starting at $5,000.
“We’re excited about NFTs and blockchain technology in general, as it really opens up new opportunities for artists and organisers to create transparent and secure bookings,” says Vasja Veber, Viberate co-founder and Umek’s manager.
“We hope to prove a concept with our NFT drop”
“The industry’s been in a sort of limbo this past year. As there are no live events, the artists try to make do by streaming their performances, but there’s no clear answer as to when and how things will return to normal – or even what ‘normal’ will mean by then.
“We hope to prove a concept with our NFT drop – any artist can make sure they’ll have a booking waiting for them once live gigs are back in the picture, and the terms of that booking are agreed upon in advance.”
If the concept proves successful, Viberate plans to provide its blockchain-based verification and token-minting services to the hundreds of thousands of artists in its database.
The NFT boom has so far seen artists offer VIP tickets, digital art and collectible albums in the format, though the Viberate event, in partnership with Blockparty, is the first to leverage the technology for booking artists.
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Finding gold in the glitter – how NFTs are going to impact ticketing
A recent discovery was made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that drew the attention of anyone in the vicinity: a hill was found to contain 98% gold in its soil. As can be expected after such a find, anyone within travelling distance with a shovel or fingernails has feverishly been digging away at the mountain, trying to extract its riches.
A video from the Republic of the Congo documents the biggest surprise for some villagers in this country, as an entire mountain filled with gold was discovered!
They dig the soil inside the gold deposits and take them to their homes in order to wash the dirt& extract the gold. pic.twitter.com/i4UMq94cEh
— Ahmad Algohbary (@AhmadAlgohbary) March 2, 2021
It’s not too difficult to draw a comparison between this mountain and the recent NFT hype.
If you have been consuming any type of media, social or other, chances are you will have heard the term ‘NFT’ several dozen times over the last few weeks. From Kings of Leon releasing their album as an NFT to sports mogul Ted Leonsis naming the benefits of NFTs in sports to digital artist Beeple auctioning off an NFT artwork for $69 million through esteemed auction house Christie’s.
Needless to say, there is a lot of hype around those three letters right now, as everyone begins sticking their shovels into this newly discovered mountain of gold. There seems to be no end to what it can provide; common dirt clusters are suddenly invaluable gems.
“NFT ticketing is a use case worth taking very seriously”
The obvious counter-response to a new trend that seems to be making everyone and their mother ridiculous amounts of money without any significant friction is to question its legitimacy.
However, simply dismissing NFTs as a fad or a money-grab would be a wasted opportunity. There is indeed merit to it, especially as its application and use cases are developed and fine-tuned.
For everyone in the entertainment industry, and especially the ticketing business, reading up on the possibilities and potential implementations of NFTs should be required homework.
Just an idea. There will be countless more from smart people in our industry. Innovation on digital platforms will be the big story of the economic comeback. Make dust— or eat dust.https://t.co/10JgS2Fgss
— Ted Leonsis (@TedLeonsis) March 16, 2021
I’ll explain why we’ve been working on an NFT ticketing approach over the past year at GET Protocol, and how we see it shaping the future of events.
But first, some basics. What is an NFT?
“The term is short for non-fungible token and, in plain English, refers to a small digital file – such as a drawing, a short video clip or even a tweet – that has been registered as one of a kind, or one of a limited batch, using blockchain software.” — Decrypt
Over the past few months NFTs have proven themselves useful in allowing digital content creators to take ownership over their craft and content. An artist now no longer relies on intermediaries such as agents, galleries or publishers to get their work in the hands of their (potential) fans.
While the headlines are filled with astronomical bidding wars and overnight millionaires, there’s a lot more to it than hot shot auctions and digital art, where most of the hype has originated from thus far.
“Dismissing NFTs as a fad or a money-grab would be a wasted opportunity”
NFT ticketing is a use case worth taking very seriously. When applied correctly, it enables ticket issuers a variety of benefits that impact and drastically improve the ticketing experience. Both for the fan and the organizer or artist.
Here are three benefits of NFT tickets we are embracing and will be offering to the ticketing companies using GET Protocol. Feel free to copy, tweak or critique them at your own discretion.
A. Perpetual revenue
Since NFT tickets are programmable, it is possible to introduce a built-in ‘royalty split’ for any resale on the secondary market. Profit sharing can be tweaked to the liking of the ticket issuer and written into the smart contract code.
Finally, those who actually deliver the value can profit from secondary ticket sales, instead of greedy touts or resale platforms. All without any need for complicated accounting or external parties.
B. Tickets as collectibles
This might seem gimmicky, but the sentimental experience of fandom should not be overlooked. Think of a digitised version of sticking the ticket to an unforgettable night on your refrigerator, only with way more possibilities to maximise the memories and cultivate a longstanding connection with a fan.
As NFTs, tickets can turn into proof-of-attendance badges (we are partnering with POAP for this purpose) which can be shown off online and even traded. It can also allow you to find and reward your diehard fans who go to every show, for example by sending exclusive content to those fans in possession of a previously issued ticket. The possibilities and variations here are limitless.
C. Pre-financing of future events
We are working on a ‘DeFi’ (decentralised finance – don’t worry, we’ll save that for another blog) approach that will allow event organisers to use their ticket inventory as collateral. This will enable organisers to offer up their (NFT) tickets for investment prior to making any organisational costs.
This type of crowdfund investing can help organisers mitigate (part of) the risk of setting up a new event. Especially in a post-Covid world, this can be a welcome change. Read more about this functionality here.
If you want to know more about the technical workings of our NFT ticketing approach, I highly recommend this blog: Tokenizing the right of entry — Using NFTs to solve ticket scalping.
Of course, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. As with all new developments there are certain doubts and downsides being propagated which are worth mentioning briefly.
The two major counter-arguments heard right now are:
- “It’s a bubble.” Certainly not every artwork is going to be sold for 69m dollars, nor is every initiative currently being founded and funded going to make a difference in the world. If you are looking to make a quick buck by speculating on NFT artworks, there is an ever-increasing chance that you might be too late and will end up taking a loss. However, if you approach the innovations that are taking place with a curious perspective, you will uncover ‘game-changer’ elements in many shapes and sizes.
- “It’s bad for the environment.” The most (loud) opposing voices use this argument to disqualify NFTs outright. While excessive energy consumption certainly is a factor worth monitoring and combating, there seems to be a lot of misinformation and confusion fuelling this particular train of thought. On top of that, there are several eco-friendly NFT initiatives already out there, and many more on the way. If you want to get a somewhat balanced sense of what this discussion entails, here are two recommendations: #1, #2.
Humble advice: Be critical – but don’t miss out by being a boomer. 😉
As NFT applications mature we will begin to see where the longevity lies and how impactful the newly uncovered innovations are going to be. There will undoubtedly be growing pains and challenges along the way, but all signs indicate that the road ahead is worth the trouble.
As long as you look close enough, there’s gold to be found for everyone.
Olivier Biggs is a marketeer at GET Protocol and GUTS Tickets. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to get in touch via the GET Protocol website or follow the company’s developments on Twitter.
Kings of Leon generate more than $2m from NFT sales
American rock band Kings of Leon has generated more than $2 million from ‘NFT Yourself’, a collection of non-fungible tokens the band put up for sale through blockchain technology company YellowHeart.
A non-fungible token (NFT) is a form of cryptocurrency asset; a spendable token that you can exchange for other cryptocurrencies, or spend on goods where they’re accepted, on the blockchain (a Cloud for financial assets).
The ‘NFT Yourself’ sale, which ran from Friday to Monday, included the band’s new album ‘When You See Yourself’ as an NFT, as well as an auction of six different ‘Golden Tickets’.
Each ‘Golden Ticket’ would give the successful bidder four front-row seats to one show of every Kings of Leon headlining tour for life.
Of the Golden Tickets, ‘Bandit #3 Grid’ and ‘Heads in the Clouds’ sold for $91,000; ‘Golden Cherry Echo’ sold for roughly $95,700; ‘Bandit #1 Red’ and ‘Couch Distortion’ each sold for close to $97,000; and ‘Bandit #2 Wave’, which also included audio, sold for roughly $162,000.
Kings of Leon previously announced that Live Nation’s Crew Nation would receive the proceeds of both ‘Bandit Wave #2’ and the album tokens, which are priced at $50 each and include limited-edition vinyl and a digital download of the album.
The band has confirmed that $500,000 of the $2m has been donated to Live Nation’s Crew Nation fund
The band has confirmed that $500,000 of the $2m has been donated to Crew Nation fund to support live music crews during the pandemic.
The Golden Ticket auction was originally scheduled to end on Sunday but Kings of Leon ended up extending that deadline to give fans who are first-time NFT buyers a chance to partake.
“Breaking new ground is never easy….if it were, it wouldn’t be groundbreaking,” the band wrote in a since-deleted statement on YellowHeart’s website. “Many fans are first-time NFT buyers and are experiencing a learning curve. We hear you and are going to extend the ‘NFT Yourself’ Collection for an additional 24 hours, in hopes that more time allows more fans to participate in this historic offering.”
‘When You See Yourself’ can still be purchased as an NFT on YellowHeart’s website until 19 March but any limited-edition collectable NFTs that are not sold at the end of the sale will be deleted and no more will be made.
While Kings of Leon are reportedly the first act to release a new album as an NFT, a number of artists including Grimes, Shawn Mendes, Steve Aoki, Quavo, Lil Baby, 2 Chainz, Jack Harlow, Tory Lanez, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, 3lau, Ozuna have released collections recently.
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Spotify-backed crypto Libra rebrands before launch
The Libra Association, the organisation overseeing the upcoming cryptocurrency of the same name, has rebranded as the Diem Association as part of its preparations for launch.
The digital currency, which is also being renamed diem (≋), was proposed by Facebook last summer and is also supported by several music-related businesses, most notably streaming service Spotify. Other backers include Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek, which has a stake in CAA, Union Square Ventures, which owns part of Sofar Sounds, and Andreessen Horowitz, an investor in song lyric site Genius and music distribution platform UnitedMasters, as well as Uber, Lyft, Shopify and Checkout.com.
Under the new banner, the Diem Association “will continue to pursue a mission of building a safe, secure and compliant payment system that empowers people and businesses around the world”, according to a statement from the organisation.
“The Diem project will provide a simple platform for fintech innovation to thrive and enable consumers and businesses to conduct instantaneous, low-cost, highly secure transactions,” says Stuart Levey, CEO of the Diem Association. “We are committed to doing so in a way that promotes financial inclusion: expanding access to those who need it most, and simultaneously protecting the integrity of the financial system by deterring and detecting illicit conduct. We are excited to introduce Diem – a new name that signals the project’s growing maturity and independence.”
In addition to its stated mission of facilitating low-fee payments around the world, particularly in emerging markets, it has been suggested that concert ticketing companies could take advantage of the the permissionless and open-source nature of Diem.
Alongside the rebrand, the association has made a number of in recent months, including Dahlia Malkhi as chief technology officer, Christy Clark as chief of staff, Steve Bunnell as chief legal officer and Kiran Raj as executive vice-president for growth and innovation and deputy general counsel.
In addition, Diem Networks, the Diem Association subsidiary which serves as operator of the regulated payment system, has announced the appointment of James Emmett as managing director, Sterling Daines as chief compliance officer, Ian Jenkins as chief financial and risk officer and Saumya Bhavsar as general counsel.
With the executive team in place, Diem is now prioritising reading for launch, which will follow regulatory approval from the the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma), which with the association is in “active and productive dialogue”, says Levey. “The evolution of the project results from constructive ongoing engagement with governments, regulators and other key stakeholders,” he comments.
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TM targets 500m tickets on the blockchain
Ticketmaster’s vice-president of blockchain products, Sandy Khaund, says the world’s biggest ticket seller aims to have up to 500 million tickets registered and sold using blockchain-based smart contracts, following its acquisition last year of Khaund’s company, Upgraded.
Speaking at Elev8 in Las Vegas on Monday (9 December), Upgraded founder Khaund discussed the value that Ethereum-style self-executing ‘smart’ contracts can bring to the ticketing sector, telling delegates: “Our goal is to support 400–500 million tickets using smart contracts and blockchain technology.”
According to Cointelegraph, Khaund said Ticketmaster is focusing on the value that blockchain technology (best known as the framework for cryptocurrency transactions) can bring to its business, as well as how best to communicate that to its customers.
“We want fans to get more value out of their tickets, while ensuring that tickets end up in the right hands. Blockchain is the only technology that can do this by using smart contracts to digitally define the ticketing industry,” he explained.
“Ticketmaster has technology that is almost 40 years old. Using smart contracts on a blockchain network creates a unique system for Ticketmaster by writing code for each ticket we sell. We run this over a private blockchain network to ensure privacy and optimisation around tickets.
“We want fans to get more value out of their tickets, while ensuring that tickets end up in the right hands”
To explain how this works in practice, Khaund used a case study focusing on Pearl Jam, reports Cointelegraph. When Pearl Jam performed its series of Home Shows to help raise money for the homeless, he explained, the band wanted to charge US$150 per ticket, which inevitably led to their being resold for profit.
“Some people wanted to pay more than $150 per ticket, even though they were purchased at this price,” he said. “We needed to make these tickets non-transferable, so we gave out two tickets. The first went to the issuer and couldn’t be transferred. The second ticket could only be transferred once. We were able to do this in 15 minutes once we wrote a smart contract for this use case, which contained an overriding function around transfers, along with a transfer counter.”
While the blockchain tech is useful for Ticketmaster, Khaund said it should be invisible to the customer. “We want people to like our products,” he said. “It’s not about the technology for the end users.”
“Our job is to make sure the integration process for tickets is seamless with other systems, like SafeTix,” he added. “We also plan to support millions of tickets that won’t cause lag time for customers. Finally, we plan to make tickets smarter. This technology is programmable by nature and we need to continue coming up with creative use cases.”
Forget Spotify – here’s how Libra could transform ticketing
On Tuesday, Facebook revealed the inaugural members of the Libra Association, the non-profit organisation tasked with governing its new cryptocurrency, Libra. With the exception of streaming service Spotify, which said it plans to use the digital currency to facilitate payments in emerging markets, music-industry support for Libra was largely absent – a surprise given the numerous music businesses, particularly in ticketing, active in the crypto/blockchain space.
Here, blockchain expert Kasper Keunen, a developer with the Netherlands’ GUTS Tickets, weighs in on what the launch of Libra means for those businesses – and why its open-source nature presents an opportunity to break the vertically integrated mega-promoters’ hold on the ticketing…
Libra: Initial thoughts
I think it is safe to say that when Facebook initially announced their plans to create a cryptocurrency, everybody in the crypto scene was sceptical. This was mainly due to Facebook’s reputation of data mining and user tracking.
However, the technical documentation made public on Tuesday seems to indicate the proposed blockchain is far more permissionless and open than was initially expected. For example, the Libra white paper states that Facebook will not have more control than any other member in its alliance (so, 1% of the voting rights). Also, the code is fully open source, and it is not required to have a Facebook account to be a user on Libra.
As with everything, the proof will be in the pudding – we’ll have to see if Libra will be executed to the standards stated in the white paper. But to give credit where credit is due, I would say this is a good start.
Where are the ticketing companies?
I found it noticeable that no ticketing company is among the first batch of companies using Libra. If we compare the market capitalisations of the biggest ticketing companies to those associated with Libra, both Eventbrite (US$1.4 billion) and Live Nation/Ticketmaster ($14bn) would fit size-wise – and as Booking.com is currently alone in the ‘travel’ category (which could easily be extended to ‘leisure and travel’ or similar), it gives some room to speculate.
As Eventbrite is currently integrating with Facebook to sell tickets, it’s probably only a matter of time before Eventbrite joins. I would imagine Live Nation is a lot harder, as a significant portion of their ticketing portfolio (mainly in the US) is in the resale sector. However, their absence could very well mean nothing; it seems that all the companies supporting Libra have a well-known brand, whereas Live Nation has a few companies in its portfolio that are less popular, so it could be that they left LN out and it will be added later.
I’m able to be less speculative about what this means for projects that are already operational in the blockchain ticketing space…
In five years, any company could join the network and use the same functionalities as founding members
Impact on blockchain ticketing
If a blockchain ticketing company (like ourselves) is delivering the exact same thing as traditional ticketing companies but only on a blockchain, it is unlikely they will remain competitive. As the corporate support for Libra clearly signals, blockchain as a technology stack is rapidly maturing, and it will only be a matter of time before it’s included in a list of possible database structures. Hence we are not aiming to do the exact same thing as traditional ticketing companies, but ‘on a blockchain’.
GET features, like sharing tickets, creating festival groups/squads, digital event tokens and providing provable transparency (without breaking privacy laws), require far more technology than just the blockchain ‘database’ used to store the data. Meaning that the brand, experience and tech we have built over the last three years is more extensive than just ‘the blockchain’.
Opportunities and the future
The (surprisingly) permissionless and open-source nature of Libra would allow us to tap into a database of potentially billions of users (of course, all on an opt-in basis). This premise does seem to erode some of the advantage currently in hands of companies like Live Nation, whose consumer database is often a motivator for organisers to choose them as a ticketing service, as LN can reduce the marketing cost for an event due to their reach.
If blockchain ticketing companies can use Libra to tap into an even larger network of users (again, all on an opt-in basis for consumers), this blockchain might erode some of LN’s monopoly power. The Libra documentation states that they plan to open the association up for the public in five years, meaning that at that point any company could join the network and use the same functionalities as founding members (though it does seem too good to be true).
Going on the white paper alone, it seems that Libra could create a more competitive market, both in ticketing and in other markets. At GET, we know that blockchain is far more than just a type of database and welcome mainstream users and the possible erosion of monopolies by increased access to a large consumer base. Time will tell!
Spotify targets “underserved markets” with FB’s Libra crypto
Spotify has said it plans to accelerate its push into emerging markets by joining the Libra Association, the not-for-profit organisation behind Facebook’s much-hyped new cryptocurrency, Libra (≋).
Officially unveiled today by Facebook’s new head of Calibra (the subsidiary overseeing Libra products), David Marcus, Libra will allow Facebook’s nearly 2.4 billion active users to send money across the globe, using what the association’s members hope will become the go-to protocol for financial transactions online.
While the launch of Libra is predicted to drive a welcome uplift in Nasdaq-listed Facebook (FB)’s profits, Marcus says by the time the coin becomes available in 2020, “Facebook will have no special rights, and will be one member among many of the Libra Association”, which also includes the likes of eBay, PayPal, Mastercard, Uber, Lyft, Vodafone, Stripe and Spotify.
“I realise that such an endeavour that started at Facebook might be met with some deserved scepticism,” continues Marcus. “But my ask is that you take the time to truly make an opinion for yourselves by looking into how the Libra network and its governance have been set up from the ground up.”
“One challenge for Spotify and its users … has been the lack of easily accessible payment systems”
Spotify, the world’s largest subscription music streaming service, is attracted to Libra’s mission to facilitate simple, fast payments globally – particularly for the 1.7bn people worldwide without access to a bank account or payment card – says the company’s chief premium business officer, Alex Norström.
“One challenge for Spotify and its users around the world has been the lack of easily accessible payment systems, especially for those in financially underserved markets,” explains Alex Norström. “This creates an enormous barrier to the bonds we work to foster between creators and their fans.
“In joining the Libra Association, there is an opportunity to better reach Spotify’s total addressable market, eliminate friction and enable payments in mass scale.”
Spotify is available in 79 countries, including developing markets such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Bolivia, the Palestinian territories and, most recently, India.
Historic bar and music venue for sale in cryptocurrency
The owner of Stone Jug, a historic restaurant, bar and live music venue in Carbonear, Canada, is accepting buyers using the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, XRP and Ethereum.
Stone Jug owner, Bruce Branan, is accepting the three leading cryptocurrencies as well as 28 fiat currencies for the purchase of the historic bar and restaurant, priced at CA$6.8 million.
The venue has a capacity of 370 people across three floors, including a conference room and multi-purpose theatre, used for musical performances. Stone Jug hosts local entertainers for traditional Irish and Newfoundland music sessions each weekend.
The live music industry is no stranger to cryptocurrencies, or the blockchain technology behind them
The live music industry is no stranger to cryptocurrencies, or the blockchain technology behind them.
Blockchain technology is currently used by Ethereum-based platforms Aventus and Crypto.tickets to regulate and standardise live event ticketing. The same technology is also used by Ethereum platform, Viberate, a decentralised talent ecosystem for live music events.
The potential uses of blockchain technology in the live music sector extend to licensing, live streaming, marketing and fan-to-artist interaction, among others.
Viberate adds CTS Eventim to ticket sales partners
Blockchain-based live music marketplace Viberate has increased the number of tickets on sale through its platform to 70,000 by partnering with CTS Eventim.
Since raising more than US$10m in an initial coin offering (ICO) last August, the Slovenia-based company, which aims to “map the global live music ecosystem” using blockchain technology, has grown its database of musicians, venues, booking agencies and promoters by 270%, and had its VIB tokens listed on 14 cryptocurrency exchanges. It also already has ticket distribution agreements in place with Ticketmaster, Eventbrite and Skiddle.
Oliver Fraemke, senior vice-president of international business development at CTS Eventim, says: “As Europe’s leading ticketing company, generating reach on the web is obviously among our core competencies. Teaming up with an exciting start-up like Viberate adds yet another powerful channel to our ever-increasing number of affiliate outlets.
“Teaming up with an exciting start-up like Viberate adds yet another powerful channel to our ever-increasing number of affiliate outlets”
“Our cooperation will help us draw a much sought-for and highly-attractive customer group to our own Eventim web shops, to the benefit of music fans and artists alike.”
According to the STA news agency, the partnership with the German company will also include its local operations, including Slovenia’s Eventim.si.
“Getting the recognition from the big players in the industry is a huge reward for our work so far,” adds Vasja Veber, Viberate’s COO. “Our team is fully devoted to developing a completely new digital playground for music enthusiasts, industry professionals and crypto fans that will make a huge impact on the industry.”
Prime Social, Paradigm’s Paul Morris plot blockchain-powered fest
EDM producer 3lau, blockchain entertainment platform SingularDTV and independent promoter Prime Social Group have announced Our Music Festival (OMF), billed as the world’s first “blockchain-powered festival network”.
The debut OMF event will take place at San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza (25,000-cap.) on 20 October, with DJ Zedd headlining and more hip-hop and dance music acts to be announced in the coming weeks.
The OMF team also includes digital marketing firm CrowdWaves, with AM Only founder and Paradigm partner Paul Morris, as well as major agents Lee Anderson (Paradigm), Hunter Williams (CAA), Sam Hunt (Paradigm) and Phil Quist (CAA), as strategic advisors.
The partners say, after “exploring the potential synergies between blockchain technology and the festival business”, they intend to use the Ethereum to combat ticket counterfeiting, touting and “dozens of other inefficiencies that plague the industry”
Future editions of OMF will see fans earning cryptocurrencies simply by participating in the festival, with OMF Tokens – of which there is a total supply of 1m – redeemable for tickets, VIP upgrades, exclusive access, merchandise, food, beverages and more.
“OMF will revolutionise the live events business in a major way”
In the long term, according to a statement, token holders will be able to “influence festivals themselves, from line-up to location”. The OMF Token will eventually be available publicly, and the team is seeking partnerships with festivals and artists around the world.
OMF CEO Justin Blau (3lau) comments: “The blockchain space is littered with promises that lack real-world application. We’re throwing our first event this year to show our commitment to inciting change. While it will take time for OMF to reach its full potential, our team has studied blockchain-layered applications and legal compliance for years to facilitate realistic steps toward decentralisation.”
“With over 900 concerts and 50+ festivals produced in our career at PSG, we’ve learned all the positives of this amazing industry,” adds Prime Social Group’s founder and co-CEO, Adam Lynn. “We’ve also found some room for improvements, and with the team of incredible partners and technology experts we are going to break down some barriers that we never would’ve thought had been possible.
“OMF will revolutionise the live events business in a major way and I am ecstatic to be part of the team leading the charge.”