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Friday round-up: world news in brief

Welcome to IQ‘s brand-new weekly round-up of news from around the world. Here, in bite-sized chunks, we present a selection of international stories you may have missed from the last seven days…

UNITED KINGDOM:

Vince Power Music Group (VPMG) has announced AXS as its official ticketing partner for all its London venues after inking a new five-year deal. VPMG venues include: the former Dingwalls, PowerHaus (cap. 500), The Fiddler (cap. 120), Nells (cap. 350) and Subterania (cap. 600). AXS is the official ticketing partner for several UK venues including The O2, The SSE Arena, Wembley, Dreamland Margate, British Summertime Hyde Park, All Points East and AEG Presents’ touring business.

NETHERLANDS:

European showcase festival and conference Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) in Groningen has moved entirely online from 19–22 January 2022 in response to the government’s the latest Covid-19 measures. The digital edition will include a conference programme as well as the festival programmes of Noorderslag, Eurosonic and the Music Moves Europe Awards award ceremony.

UNITED STATES: 

Foo Fighters say they have axed a 2022 tour date due to the venue’s “refusal to agree to the band’s Covid safety measures”. The band were due to play Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on 3 August, but are now looking for a replacement venue. A spokesperson for the University of Minnesota, which operates the venue, said its current measures relating to vaccines and mask-wearing were in line with state and federal guidelines, and declined to change its existing protocols for large events.

GERMANY:

CTS Eventim is acquiring regional ticketing providers in the Rhineland region, Kölnticket and Bonnticket. The companies previously belonged to media houses Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger Medien in Cologne and Rheinische Post Mediengruppe in Düsseldorf, and had previously partnered with CTS on ticketing software and platform technology. The deal will give CTS Eventim a significant presence in the region as well as numerous contacts in the local entertainment scene.

UK/US:

The British Music Embassy has announced its live return to South By Southwest (SXSW) with its biggest presence yet. The intimate 250-person UK music showcase will return in 2022 with a capacity of 700 at Cedar Street Courtyard, an open-air SXSW venue, from 14-20 March. It will be the first in-person British Music Embassy since 2019 as the 2020 edition of SXSW was one of the first major festivals to be cancelled due to Covid-19.

GERMANY:

The ASM Global-managed, Arena Oberhausen in Germany is to be renamed after 20 years as the Konig Pilsener Arena. From next year, the 12,650-capacity venue will be known as Rudolf Weber Arena, in the largest naming rights deal in the Oberhausen-based venue’s 25-year history.

BELGIUM:

Five more names have been confirmed for Rock Werchter 2022. The War On Drugs will play the Festivalpark on Thursday 30 June. Lewis Capaldi and Greta Van Fleet join the line-up for Friday 1 July, Yungblud is scheduled for Saturday July 2 and Royal Blood will put in an appearance on Sunday 3 July. Headlined by Pearl Jam, Metallica, Imagine Dragons and Red Hot Chili Pepper, the festival runs from 30 June to 2 July.

UNITED KINGDOM:

Two internet ticket touts sentenced to a combined six-and-a-half years in prison following a landmark court case have failed in their appeals against their conviction for fraudulent trading. Peter Hunter and David Smith, who operated as the company BZZ Limited, were jailed for four years and 30 months, respectively, in February 2020 following an investigation by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, and trail at Leeds Crown Court. The pair committed offences between May 2010 and December 2017, making a net profit of £3.5 million in the last two years of fraud alone, buying and reselling tickets to concerts by artists including Ed Sheeran, McBusted, Taylor Swift and Coldplay. On the appeal Smith and Hunter raised a large number of legal and procedural grounds. They appealed the verdict, alleging the judge wrongly directed the jury on the law and “acted unfairly and prejudicially in his conduct of the trial”, arguing the restrictions attaching to the sale of the tickets were “void and invalid”. However, the Court of Appeal rejects their appeals, upholding the conclusion of the judge at trial that the restrictions imposed by event organisers were valid, adding the judge “acted properly in all relevant respects and that the convictions are safe and lawful”.

IRELAND:

Irish-headquartered Tixserve has partnered with UK ticket agency Gigantic to provide a “secure and interactive digital ticket fulfilment service” for its live entertainment ticketing. The partnership will see Irish-Headquartered Tixserve provide Gigantic with a white label digital ticketing app – delivering via a full API technical integration, a sophisticated and seamless fulfilment service for Gigantic clients and customers.

UNITED KINGDOM:

International booking agency Midnight Mango has announced four new agents – Nigel Morton, Addison Paterson, Sam Bryant and Hanna Bright – after initiating an Agent Freelancer Platform in the early days of the pandemic. After delivering training and guidance to four agents back in the spring, the firm took on a further four new agents in September. The new appointments work with acts such as Gretchen Peters, Bicurious, Dom Martin and The Kakatsitsi Master Drummers, expanding the agency’s roster to more than 150 artists, represented by a 15-strong workforce.

 


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International Ticketing Report 2021: Consumer behaviour

The International Ticketing Report is a one-off annual health check on the global ticketing business, with emphasis on the sector’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The past two years have been turbulent for the business, but with consumer demand for live events now at an all-time peak, the challenges of fulfilling the most packed event schedule in history will test ticketers to the hilt.

Staffing, vouchers schemes and refunds, demand, consumer behaviour, communication, new products & services, secondary ticketing, pandemic lessons and recovery are among the challengers addressed by industry-leading experts in this extended report.

The report, originally published in IQ105, is in lieu of the International Ticketing Yearbook – a standalone global guide to the live entertainment market that will return in 2022.

IQ will publish sections of the International Ticketing Report over the coming weeks but subscribers can read the entire feature in issue 105 of IQ Magazine now.

To read the previous instalment of the report on staffing click here.


In addition to purchasing add-on insurance coverage, fans are often waiting until the 11th hour to buy tickets for certain events – although some recent tours and dates for A-list acts next year have sold out within minutes.

While that dichotomy could give promoters sleepless nights, what is proving more certain is the willingness of the general public to embrace digital ticketing. This has been accelerated by the pandemic, as people recognise the health and hygiene benefits of steering away from physical passes for events.

“Digital transformation has significantly changed attitudes towards digital tickets – a Rubicon has been crossed,” says Total Ticketing sales director Martin Haigh. “Contactless purchase, fulfilment, transfer, and redemption is very attractive given the pandemic. Digitally connecting tickets to waivers and proof-of-vaccine may soon be mandatory.”

Scahill states, “Much like we’ve seen with promoters, we expect more of an increase in demand towards the use of digital tickets vs physical as consumers become more accustomed to using technology throughout the pandemic. In addition to this, sustainability is somewhat of a hot-button issue in the events and touring industry, so the more we can limit paper usage in the ticketing industry, the better.”

“Contactless purchase, fulfilment, transfer, and redemption is very attractive given the pandemic”

However, pointing out that a digital ticket merely identifies the mobile phone’s IMEI number, rather than the person holding it, Fair Ticket Solutions’ founder & CEO, Alan Gelfand, comments, “Attendees now have to provide some additional physical form of ID for entry, so whether a ticket is on their phone or physical now becomes only a matter of what the attendee deems convenient for them and should have their choice of deciding, not dictated to.”

And that scepticism wins favour with CTS Eventim chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff, who contends that not everyone will embrace the digital switch. “We believe very strongly that many customers will want to continue to receive a physical ticket or receive it in addition,” he tells IQ.

“An electronic ticket in a virtual wallet hardly triggers anticipation of a concert. In contrast, a paper ticket on the fridge or on the pinboard evokes exactly that feeling. A physical ticket also plays a very important role for many fans as a souvenir of a great concert experience.”

Nonetheless, Richard Howle from The Ticket Factory states, “The pandemic has forced the public (whether they like it or not) to embrace mobile technology with the use of tools like the [UK’s] NHS Covid App. It was only a matter of time until digital ticketing arrived, and the pandemic has simply accelerated that process. Some of our first events to go to 100% digital ticketing were non-music events with audiences that traditionally find it harder to adopt these technologies.”

“Within the next two years I expect that 90% of tickets issued will be digital”

He adds, “Within the next two years I expect that 90% of tickets issued will be digital.”

And Benjamin Leaver, CEO, Event Genius & Festicket says his company’s investment into mobile-friendly products sets them up nicely for the manic 2022 events schedule.

“For example, we recently released our new Festicket customer app, which makes it easier for eventgoers to access their tickets offline from their mobile device, speed-up entry, reduce possible overcrowding at entry gates and generally improve audience flow,” he says.

Indeed, Total Ticketing’s Haigh cites a fundamental shift in attitudes when it comes to digital adoption. “We operate in Asia and there is a cultural proclivity towards conservatism, yet we are seeing clients in some of Asia’s most conservative countries embrace and even demand digital ticketing, where just a year or two ago we were being told that ticket buyers would only accept physical tickets,” he reports.

“We believe that digital ticketing opens up a whole new world of engagement and activation opportunities for live-event promoters and sponsors and as such it’s inevitable that transformation towards digital ticketing will accelerate.”

 


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Finland’s Tampere Deck to become Nokia Arena

Finland’s Tampere Deck Arena (cap. 15,000) is to become the Nokia Arena under a new naming-rights deal.

The Tampere Deck arena previously signed a ten-year naming rights agreement with technology firm Uros but the deal was terminated amid concerns about the company’s financial position.

The venue will now be named after Finnish telecommunications company Nokia, which has acquired the naming rights for five years, with an option to extend the partnership by another five.

Nokia Arena, which already has a ten-year ticketing deal with CTS Eventim-owned Lippupiste, will host 1 million visitors annually, and host a combination of musical and sporting events.

“Nokia Arena is not only a state-of-the-art venue for sport, music and business events, but also a Finnish landmark”

The venue will serve as the home rink of Tampere-based ice hockey teams Tappara and Ilves and as the main venue for the International Ice Hockey Federation’s 2022 world championship.

Tommi Uitto, president of mobile networks and country senior officer for Finland at Nokia, says: “Customer experience both in physical and virtual events is changing radically with the introduction of new digital platforms and technologies. Nokia Arena is not only a state-of-the-art venue for sport, music and business events, but also a Finnish landmark. Nokia was founded in Tampere 156 years ago and today Finland continues to be one of Nokia’s key R&D centres in 5G and beyond. This partnership further reinforces our commitment to Finland, and we look forward to seeing Nokia Arena as a pioneer in world-class stadium experience.”

Marko Hurme, CEO of the Nokia Arena, says: “This is an exciting time for the arena, and we are very proud to partner with such an iconic brand and technology leader like Nokia. When choosing our partner, we wanted to ensure that we united with a company that shares our vision and values for the arena, and understands the possibilities new technologies and connections enable in creating an engaging visitor experience. Nokia has a long history of building recognised technology clusters in Finland and in Tampere, so this is an ideal match.”

 


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CTS Eventim reports strong Q3 results

Live entertainment giant CTS Eventim has posted “encouraging” financial results for Q3 2021, powered by improved ticket sales.

The Munich-based pan-European promoter and ticketing company saw consolidated revenue rise by 279.2% to €114.7 million, compared with €30.2m in the same period last year. Revenue for 2021 to date fell 21.3% year-on-year to €180m, since Q1 2020 was barely affected by the pandemic.

Revenue from the company’s live entertainment segment soared by 351.2% to €55.7m in the third quarter of 2021 (up from €12.4m in the equivalent period last year), while ticketing surged 225.5% to €61m, compared with €18.7m in Q3 2020.

Ticket sales accelerated at the start of the second half of 2021, boosted by presales for tours by major international artists including Ed Sheeran, Genesis and Coldplay, as well as German rock act Udo Lindenberg.

Around 400,000 tickets have been sold for Sheeran’s German dates alone, the firm reports. However, the coronavirus situation meant the number of events was still down sharply compared with pre-pandemic levels.

We recorded an encouraging increase in revenue in the third quarter

“We recorded an encouraging increase in revenue in the third quarter,” says CTS Eventim CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg. “In recent months, we have also forged ahead with our international expansion plans and ensured that CTS Eventim is even better prepared for the future by launching new digital products.”

Normalised EBITDA was €105.4m compared to a loss of €17.7 million 12 months earlier. The firm attributes the turnaround to “cost savings, an improved operating business and the government aid programmes introduced in Germany and other countries”.

CTS received “extraordinary” Covid-19 financial aid from the German federal government for November and December 2020, with €102m in government funding awarded “to strengthen the result for the current financial year and the company’s liquidity”.

Last month, CTS strengthened its position in the access control market with the acquisition of software and hardware developer Simply-X, one of the leading providers of event management products in Germany. The firm also announced its expansion into the North American ticketing market in September.

At the time of writing, CTS’ share price was down 2.64% to €62.04.

 


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International Ticketing Report 2021: Voucher schemes & refunds

The International Ticketing Report is a one-off annual health check on the global ticketing business, with emphasis on the sector’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The past two years have been turbulent for the business, but with consumer demand for live events now at an all-time peak, the challenges of fulfilling the most packed event schedule in history will test ticketers to the hilt.

Staffing, vouchers schemes and refunds, demand, consumer behaviour, communication, new products & services, secondary ticketing, pandemic lessons and recovery are among the challengers addressed by industry-leading experts in this extended report.

The report, originally published in IQ105, is in lieu of the International Ticketing Yearbook – a standalone global guide to the live entertainment market that will return in 2022.

IQ will publish sections of the International Ticketing Report over the coming weeks but subscribers can read the entire feature in issue 105 of IQ Magazine now.

To read the previous instalment of the report on staffing click here.


While the live events industry was among the first to shut up shop in the pandemic – and, of course, the last to reopen – one silver lining to that particular storm cloud was that the vast majority of fans around the world did not ask for refunds for rescheduled events.

Promoters in a number of territories also persuaded governments to allow them to implement voucher schemes, which helped retain at least some of their revenues to steer them through the crisis.

Again, though, the experience varies from country to country, and, off the record, some promoters are admitting, with hindsight, that refunds may have been the smarter move, as the costs for putting on shows in 2022 will be far higher than the ticket prices budgeted for, as they were often set in 2019, long before the pandemic closed countries down.

“In the majority of situations organisers offered refunds and around 80% of ticket sales that had been made before the pandemic were refunded,” reports Weezevent CEO Pierre-Henri Deballon.

“The demand from fans has never waned. Globally, we saw 83% of fans holding onto their tickets for rescheduled shows”

“On the other hand, the organisers who did not offer a refund but proposed a postponement had only a few requests for refunds.”

He cites Hellfest as an example, where only around 100 tickets were refunded out of the tens of thousands for the sold-out festival. “This highlights how valuable these tickets are to the participants.”

Ticketmaster’s Mark Yovich observes, “The demand from fans has never waned. Globally, we saw 83% of fans holding onto their tickets for rescheduled shows, showing the palpable desire from fans to get back to live at the first opportunity.”

Dice’s Russ Tannen reports similar stats. “87% of tickets for live shows that have been rescheduled or postponed until 2022 have not been returned,” he says.

“The voucher solution preserves the vital liquidity that promoters need to continue operating beyond the crisis”

“Our flexible returns and Waiting List functionality mean that on Dice fans can often get a refund any time before the gig, so many fans will hold on to their ticket in the hope that they’ll be able to make the date of the new show, if they can’t, they’ll offer it to the waiting list.”

Lauding the voucher concept, CTS Eventim‘s chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff says, “We very much welcomed the decisions in a number of European countries on voucher schemes for cultural, concert, sports and leisure events.

“It was a very important step towards preserving cultural diversity. At the same time, the voucher solution is consumer protection in its purest form because it preserves the vital liquidity that promoters need to continue operating during and beyond the coronavirus crisis.

In Germany, the voucher solution is valid until the end of this year. We have observed that many of the vouchers issued have been, and are being, used for replacement events. Therefore, the extent of the refunds is not yet foreseeable.”

“As the restrictions have continued for longer [in Hong Kong], larger numbers are now asking for refunds”

Benjamin Leaver, the newly appointed CEO of Event Genius & Festicket, comments, “We had a number of countries that initiated voucher schemes, most significantly Germany and Portugal. These vouchers were usually only valid on events by the same promoter and mostly were valid until the end of 2021, however, some are running until the 2022 rescheduled dates.”

Yovich comments, “Where voucher schemes were mandated, we implemented this quickly and effectively. However, in most markets, we offered fans cash refunds for rescheduled shows with no questions asked. While being a global business, having local presence on the ground meant that we were able to work closely with our clients to tailor refund policies in each of our markets according to the legal framework and their wishes.”

The reality in Hong Kong was somewhat different. “Customers were initially keen to hold on to tickets pending events coming back, but as the restrictions have continued for longer, larger numbers are now asking for refunds,” says  Total Ticketing sales director Martin Haigh.

“Whereas only around 20% were asking for refunds early in the pandemic, this has now grown to around 80%. We have not needed to implement voucher schemes, instead preferring to refund customers on-request to maintain customer confidence. This has not been the case with all ticketing companies in Hong Kong, but in general customer trust and confidence remains strong.”

“[Skiddle] has had a total of £140,000 (€166,000) claimed in booking-fee credits”

Skiddle had its own approach. “From the start of the pandemic in March 2020, we’ve had to refund a total of 165,000 tickets,” says Skiddle’s head of marketing Jamie Scahill.

“However, during the pandemic, we introduced the ticket industry’s first booking-fee credit system.

“While it remains an industry-standard among ticket companies to retain booking fees when events are cancelled or postponed in order to cover costs, during Covid-19, we rejected this practice, seeking instead to put money back into the accounts of our customers.

“Now when a customer claims a refund, Skiddle will give them the option to claim the full booking fee amount as credit, which can then be used on a future purchase, up to 12 months later. Since we started this system in 2020, we have had a total of £140,000 (€166,000) claimed in booking-fee credits.”

 


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International Ticketing Report 2021: Staffing

The International Ticketing Report is a one-off annual health check on the global ticketing business, with emphasis on the sector’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The past two years have been turbulent for the business, but with consumer demand for live events now at an all-time peak, the challenges of fulfilling the most packed event schedule in history will test ticketers to the hilt.

Staffing, vouchers schemes and refunds, demand, consumer behaviour, communication, new products & services, secondary ticketing, pandemic lessons and recovery are among the challengers addressed by industry-leading experts in this extended report.

The report, originally published in IQ105, is in lieu of the International Ticketing Yearbook – a standalone global guide to the live entertainment market that will return in 2022.

IQ will publish sections of the International Ticketing Report over the coming weeks but subscribers can read the entire feature in issue 105 of IQ Magazine now.

To read the previous instalment of the report, Changing Landscape, click here.


Covid redundancies have hit the sector hard and numerous experienced employees have taken the decision to pursue other career paths rather than return to their former roles. Nonetheless, HR teams have been working overtime to ensure companies are ready to service the needs of their clients.

“While events were paused, we had a huge amount of work to do processing rescheduled shows, helping clients manage the workload, and taking care of fans,” says Mark Yovich, who presides over Ticketmaster, the world’s market-leading live entertainment ticketer.

“At the same time, [Ticketmaster’s] technology teams were able to work at an incredible pace rolling out new features almost weekly, like our Smart Queue technology that effectively manages demand for busy on-sales, which fans are loving.”

He adds, “Thankfully, we were able to take advantage of the many furlough schemes around the world and, as we return to live, our team is building back stronger than ever.”

“While events were paused, we had a huge amount of work to do processing rescheduled shows”

At Europe’s biggest ticketing company, CTS Eventim, chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff tells a similar story. “It is a principle of the company to stand by our employees, even in difficult times. At the same time, we benefitted greatly from government support programmes in various countries. [And] with the restart of business, we started hiring in key areas of the company.”

Weezevent CEO Pierre-Henri Deballon reveals the rollercoaster ride the company has endured in terms of personnel. “We were around 70 [employees] in 2019, then this number dropped to around 60 during 2020, since we made the choice not to replace people who decided to leave the company,” he tells IQ.

“Then we went back up to almost 90 in 2021 with the acquisition of PlayPass, which is also a player in the event cashless industry. By 2022, we expect to be at least 125, if not more, depending on the activity and recovery in our sector.

Turning to governmental assistance, he says, “Support-wise, we benefited from […] the partial unemployment [scheme] set up by the French state, which covered part of the salaries of the teams who were not working during this period, and we supplemented their wages.”

“H.Kong’s zero Covid policy has meant we have experienced little in the way of lockdowns affecting people’s ability to work”

Furlough programmes differ massively around the world, as highlighted by Total Ticketing sales director Martin Haigh from his Hong Kong office. “We were able to receive a small contribution from the government towards salary costs, although this was far below what most developed countries offered through furlough and similar schemes.

“Hong Kong’s zero Covid policy has meant we have experienced little in the way of lockdowns affecting people’s ability to work, although there has been little activity in the events sector generally due to the various restrictions resulting from the zero Covid approach.”

That allowed Total Ticketing to retain its entire team from 2019 to present. “In fact, we have made some new hires over this period to support our ongoing investment in developing our suite of software and products,” says Haigh.

“This has left us in a strong position as we have retained the skills and knowledge that we have developed in our teams over the years.”

“Since lockdown lifting in 2021 and consumer confidence being at an all-time high, we are back to a period of growth”

In the UK, Skiddle’s Scahill notes the impact that lockdowns had on the business, including the closure of its Manchester office. But with the UK reopening for events, things are suddenly looking much rosier.

“The majority of our staff were on either part-time or full-time furlough during the pandemic while business was down and Skiddle claimed £430,000 [€509,000] via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. However, since lockdown lifting in 2021 and consumer confidence being at an all-time high, we are back to a period of growth as our team is now 65 staff members and we are now hiring at pre-Covid rates and recruiting for a number of roles.”

Indeed, that scramble to restaff is universal across the territories that are fortunate enough to be back. “We are a relatively small team in the AXS London office, the majority of which we managed to retain throughout the pandemic – albeit up to approximately 50% were furloughed at various times,” says director of ticketing Paul Newman. “Today we are back to a full complement of staff, as well as actively recruiting for a number of new roles within the business.”

Russ Tannen, president of Dice states, “By the end of the year our team will be 350 globally – and growing fast. We have headquarters in London and New York and offices in Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, Barcelona, and Samara.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

International Ticketing Report 2021: Changing Landscape

The International Ticketing Report is a one-off annual health check on the global ticketing business, with emphasis on the sector’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The past two years have been turbulent for the business, but with consumer demand for live events now at an all-time peak, the challenges of fulfilling the most packed event schedule in history will test ticketers to the hilt.

Staffing, vouchers schemes and refunds, demand, consumer behaviour, communication, new products & services, secondary ticketing, pandemic lessons and recovery are among the challengers addressed by industry-leading experts in this extended report.

The report, originally published in IQ105, is in lieu of the International Ticketing Yearbook – a standalone global guide to the live entertainment market that will return in 2022.

IQ will publish sections of the International Ticketing Report over the coming weeks, starting with an instalment that reflects on the changing landscape. However, subscribers can read the entire feature in issue 105 of IQ Magazine now.


In years gone by, IQ’s annual examination of the ticketing business has merited a standalone book – the International Ticketing Yearbook (ITY). However, the pandemic decimated the business, globally, with many operations forced to run with a skeleton staff that had to deal with the thousands of postponed and rescheduled shows and events, often multiple times, as well as the complexity of refunds and/or voucher schemes.

As the countdown to 2022 begins in earnest, the ticketing sector was among the first in the live entertainment sector to start bringing its employees back into the workplace. And the results have been phenomenal. On-sales such as Ed Sheeran and Coldplay have both seen more than a million tickets snapped up, while hundreds of artists and acts are planning to hit the road, meaning many venues are experiencing seven-days-a-week bookings for the first time in their history.

Covid willing, 2022 should be a record-breaking year for the live events industry. But there are still significant territories operating under pandemic restrictions, and the prospect of more virulent variants of Covid-19 emerging over the winter months in the northern hemisphere remains an all-too-real threat for promoters and event organisers everywhere.

Setting such concerns aside, momentarily, IQ spoke with a number of leading industry executives about the challenges – past, present, and future – to gauge the health of the international ticketing business.

“We’ve been leading the move to mobile tickets for some time, but the pandemic has fast-tracked their adoption industry-wide”

Changing landscape
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is driving seismic changes in the ticketing sector worldwide, acting as a catalyst for digitisation but also prompting certain operators to question their participation in the business.

Ticketmaster president, Mark Yovich, says, “We’ve been leading the move to mobile tickets for some time now, but the pandemic has fast-tracked their adoption industry-wide. The benefits were always there but are even more clear-cut in a post-Covid world.”

He explains, “For the fan, it provides a convenient and frictionless experience. For the event organiser, more insight than ever before. In the past when someone would buy four tickets, it was a matter of guessing who those other three tickets went to. Now we know who walks through the door and can serve them up a more personalised and enjoyable experience from the moment the ticket lands in their Ticketmaster account right through to showtime.”

Digital services are also a priority for CTS Eventim chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff. “The entire industry must work to get fans back to shows in similar numbers to 2019,” he says.

“Ticketing will become even more digital. In markets where electronic entry-control has not been standard, we will see this after the pandemic. As digitalisation continues, we will be able to offer exciting new products. One example is the Eventim.Pass digital ticket, which has already been used for Ed Sheeran’s European tour.”

“The reality of the liabilities that ticket companies carry in the event of cancellation has really hit home during the pandemic”

Ruoff explains that Eventim.Pass tickets can only be resold via the company’s official resale platform, fanSALE, “which means they are fully traceable,” he says. “It is an important contribution in the fight against the unauthorised secondary ticket market.”

Jamie Scahill, head of marketing for Skiddle, says even clients that were reluctant to adopt digital and paperless systems are now changing direction.

“For example, during the pandemic, Skiddle provided ticketing for local football clubs in the UK using our RapidScan ticket scanning app software to provide contactless entry,” he says. “Such clubs had not adopted paperless entry pre-pandemic and this trend is looking set to continue across a range of sectors in the events industry.”

That’s a development that Richard Howle from The Ticket Factory welcomes. But he recognises that economic hardship has taken its toll. “Commercially, it has made us more risk-averse,” he admits. “I know that some promoters and organisers are struggling to get advances as the ticketing industry becomes more cautious.

“The reality of the liabilities that ticket companies carry in the event of cancellation has really hit home during the pandemic and that will reflect attitudes and commercial decisions going forward, particularly for new promoters and event organisers,” he warns.

“Over 70% of eventgoers would be more encouraged to attend an event if it had a cashless system”

The advantages of digital tickets are crucial to Fair Ticket Solutions, whose founder & CEO, Alan Gelfand, notes, “The need to know the identity of every attendee has finally come to fruition. This will ultimately move the industry to a futuristic goal of some form of biometrics becoming an attendee’s ticket, such as their face or palm. Additionally, an attendee’s health status will now have to be linked to their ticket or else physical checks will still have to be applied at gate entry causing delays nobody wants.”

While debates over biometric tickets will be a feature of industry conferences in the months ahead, the pandemic has also caused untold financial damage to the ticketing sector, meaning that some of the smaller operators, in particular, may not re-emerge.

“The pandemic has weakened the players who were in a more challenging position, notably in terms of cash flow,” states Weezevent CEO Pierre-Henri Deballon. “It also highlighted the difficulties of some players in managing high-volume refunds, while it has underlined the advantages of having access to more flexible and adaptable technology like Weezevent.”

Benjamin Leaver, CEO, Event Genius & Festicket, claims that event organisers who adopt contactless and cashless technology will benefit. “A survey we did recently revealed that over 70% of eventgoers would be more encouraged to attend an event if it had a cashless system,” says Leaver, citing his company’s own egPay system.

“Beyond that, we’ve seen a definitive rise in the usage of alternative payment methods, such as our payment plans and Pay with Friends feature. These allow customers to reduce immediate costs, allowing them to purchase more events at one time, and also goes hand in hand with the increase in average order value.”

“Much intellectual property has left the industry as a result of ticketing companies downsizing their workforces”

While Dice president Russ Tannen points to the adoption of live-streaming as a direct result of lockdown restrictions, at AXS, director of ticketing Paul Newman cites four fundamental Covid factors: purchase patterns have altered, with last-minute bookings having increased; the increase in the uptake of ticket insurance; the need for increased levels of communication to customers, such as Covid protocols and other advance show information; and the acceleration of the move to digital tickets and contactless venues.

“We have seen a strong migration to timed entry ticketing for museums and attractions as well as digital tickets and hands-free check in,” affirms Steven Sunshine, CEO of California-based TixTrack.

Across the Pacific, in Hong Kong, Martin Haigh at Total Ticketing is counting the casualties. “Ticketing companies that are part of larger integrated companies have appeared to have weathered the storm more easily. That being said, we’ve seen conglomerates in Thailand, Japan, and Korea look to sell their ticketing divisions – something that has never been on the cards in living memory,” he observes.

“Much intellectual property has left the industry as a result of ticketing companies downsizing their workforces. Independent ticketing companies have looked for bridging loans or investment to remain afloat. Many have pivoted towards livestreaming; many have looked at ancillary revenue streams more closely with things like ticket insurance and ‘buy now, pay later’ being pushed very hard during the check-out process.”

One company noticing a surge in interest is TicketPlan, which offers ticket protection services. “Attachment rates for ticket protection and insurance will continue to be high, as ticket buyers now understand the potential risk of being unable to attend and will continue to purchase products such as TicketPlan on a wider range of bookings,” comments company CEO Ben Bray.

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Nova Rock Encore reports one Covid-19 case

Austrian promoter Barracuda says that only one Covid-19 case could be linked to Nova Rock Encore, a one-day pilot event that was organised to demonstrate that live events can safely take place in Austria.

The one-off festival was organised in response to the cancellation of Barracuda’s FM4 Frequency Festival by order of the district administration.

Nova Rock Encore was based on Barracuda’s flagship festival, Nova Rock, which was also cancelled in March this year.

The pilot event took place on 11 September at the Wiener Neustadt stadium (cap. 10,000) and saw 15,000 attendees enjoy performances from Seiler & Speer, Parov Stelar, Bullet For My Valentine, Måneskin and more.

Of the 15,000 attendees, contract tracing attributed just one Covid-19 infection to the festival, according to the organisers.

Two ticketholders reported a positive PCR result in advance of the event and, therefore, did not attend.

“For months we have been working to create perfect prevention concepts and to organise a festival trusted by all sides”

According to data from the festival, the vast majority (86%) of Nova Rock Encore attendees had been vaccinated and 14% were tested in advance. One hundred and eighty visitors opted to get vaccinated at the vaccination bus on the day of the event.

Ewald Tatar, managing director of CTS Eventim-backed Barracuda, said the results were what he expected.

“For months we have been working at full speed, not only to create perfect prevention concepts but also to organise a festival that has been trusted by all sides and which has also become a great success and a guide to the cultural future of our country,” says Tatar.

“Thanks to everyone who collaborated, to the artists, to the experts, the city of Wiener Neustadt with its esteemed mayor, to all the crews and many more. With the Nova Rock Encore, something great was achieved in a very short time and with maximum commitment. One can and must be proud of that,” he concludes.

Nova Rock will return to Pannonia Fields in Nickelsdorf between 9–12 June 2022 with headliners Muse, Foo Fights, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch.

 


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CTS Eventim acquires majority stake in Simply-X

CTS Eventim has strengthened its position in the access control market with the acquisition of software and hardware developer Simply-X.

Drawing on over 20 years of experience, Simply-X is one of the leading providers of event management products in Germany.

Its portfolio encompasses control, payment, ordering and customer loyalty solutions, together with the accompanying hardware such as scanning pedestals and turnstiles.

High-profile venues such as the Hockenheimring, the Olympic stadium in Berlin, and Frankfurt’s Deutsche Bank Park stadium are among those currently using Simply-X solutions.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer our customers a one-stop shop for event organisation”

Simply-X enhances CTS Eventim’s existing offering in the access control segment, Eventim.Access.

Alexander Ruoff, COO of CTS Eventim, says: “We are thrilled to be able to offer our customers a one-stop shop for event organisation that is now even more comprehensive than before. What’s more, we have extended our value chain once again.”

Matthias Bode, CEO of Simply-X, added: “We are proud to be able to continue growing with CTS Eventim at our side. A great many customers are already successfully using our solutions together with those of CTS Eventim and these systems will be even easier to combine in future. At the same time, Simply-X will be retaining its independence so that it can continue helping other partners with their digitalisation journeys.”

News of the acquisition comes days after Eventim announced the launch of Eventim.Pass, its proprietary digital ticket, which was used for the first time for Ed Sheeran’s upcoming European tour.

 


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CTS share price peaks after N.America expansion

CTS Eventim’s share price is at an all-time high following its expansion into the North American ticketing market.

For the first time in the Munich-based company’s history, its share price has peaked at €65.80 – up almost 10% in the last five days.

The spike comes days after CTS, the second-largest ticketing company in the world, announced its goal to “establish an alternative to the dominant providers in the US and Canada” as it began selling tickets for its first US client, Big Apple Circus, on 26 September.

Before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, CTS was selling more than 250 million tickets for around 800,000 events every year, making it the world’s second-largest provider of ticketing solutions and the number one in Europe.

“North America is the most attractive market in the world for live entertainment and ticketing”

Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, CEO of CTS Eventim, says: “North America is the most attractive market in the world for live entertainment and ticketing. The platform eventim.com puts us in an ideal position to benefit from the restart there.

“The sale of tickets for Big Apple Circus is a first step on this journey. We are already in discussions with potential partners and customers about making our cutting-edge ticketing systems available to them soon.”

The Big Apple Circus is being co-produced by veteran entertainment executive Michael Cohl, a longtime promoter of bands like The Rolling Stones who briefly served as chairman of Live Nation in 2008.

Last year, CTS and Cohl formed the joint venture EMC Presents with the goal of bringing leading international artists to stages in the United States and Canada.

The move is CTS’s second foray into the US market. In 2009, Live Nation partnered with CTS Eventim to launch Live Nation Tickets, a platform intended to challenge Ticketmaster’s dominant position in North America.

Before it was launched, Live Nation pulled out of the deal and merged with Ticketmaster instead, a move which led to CTS Eventim suing for breach of contract. The disagreement was settled in arbitration in 2013.

This summer also saw the launch of Eventim Live Asia. The new company, headquartered in Singapore and led by CEO Jason Miller, focuses on the rapidly growing live entertainment markets in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

In addition to Eventim Live Asia, Eventim Live, formed in early 2019, includes 36 promoters in 15 countries, the most recent addition being Matt Schwarz’s DreamHaus in Germany.

 


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