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ILMC 34: Inside ticketing’s new normal

International ticketing executives have given a mixed picture on live music markets around the world as the business bids to pick up where it left off pre-pandemic.

ILMC’s Ticketing: All change please! session heard from Ticketmaster UK’s Sarah Slater, Marcia Titley of Eventim Norway & Sweden, John Talbot of AXS Europe, Dice’s Amy Oldham and TicketSwap’s James Fleury, with Michael Hosking of Singapore-based Midas Promotions offering a promoter’s perspective.

Quizzed on the state of play by chair Richard Howle of The Ticket Factory, the panel reported contrasting fortunes to date.

“In Scandinavia, restrictions were lifted in December in Denmark, in January in Norway, and February in Sweden, so we’re about three, four months in,” noted Titley. “When the restrictions were lifted, ticket sales jumped, which was great, we were all thrilled. And then they kind of plateaued.”

“We’re making progress, but it’s slower than I think we all had hoped”

While observing a week-by-week improvement, she added that Covid has appeared to have triggered a change in purchasing habits, with a shift towards buying tickets later in the day.

“They’re waiting, and I think we can all understand why,” she said. “I think we’re all holding our breath a little bit wondering if some new variant’s going to pop up tomorrow. And shows aren’t selling out, so that sense of urgency isn’t there.

“One thing we’re starting to see in Scandinavia as well is uncertainty if shows and festivals are actually going to happen. Just recently, last week, one of our biggest festivals in Norway had to cancel because of Covid complications… So this has also affected consumer behaviour.

“Also, I think we’re trying to find ways to get people to go back to live. I think people have got a little bit stuck on their couches and we need to try to find a way to get them to remember what live was all about. If we can get them into the shows then we will be able to build up that kind of credibility in the market. We’re making progress, but it’s slower than I think we all had hoped.”

“One of the greatest impacts of Covid is it has made people, generally, quite lethargic”

Citing sold-out stadium shows by Justin Bieber in Singapore and Malaysia, Hosking stressed that demand was visible for certain artists, but returned to the theme of audience lethargy.

“The real test will be maybe the B and C-listers,” he offered. “I think one of the greatest impacts of Covid is it has made people, generally, quite lethargic. The old days of having to do everything immediately seems to have waned. And of course, Asia’s not one country, it is several countries and there are still very different restrictions about touring. But Justin is living proof that if the people want you bad enough they’ll go out and buy tickets.”

Talbot, who joined AXS last summer, said the business had faced an “existential threat” and attempted to put its travails into perspective.

“To use a hospitalisation analogy, we were hit by a truck and now we are in the recovery from that period, and it’s not going to happen overnight. We’ve got a cost of living crisis. People can see the alternatives to going out – because they were denied so long, they’ve got other options and they can entertain themselves in different ways.

“We do need to teach the market that going out, congregating, seeing live events is a really, really important part of our culture and they should come back to it. But those challenges are nowhere near as existential as what we were facing only a matter of months ago, so I think there’s a lot of reason to be very cheerful.”

“Half of our customer services activity at the moment is reuniting customers with the tickets they bought in 2019 and 2020”

He added: “We’re finding that a lot of our best customers are holding four or five tickets to shows that are yet to play off… So how do you sell to the market new events, when they’ve already got commitments, and sometimes they’ve forgotten that they’re holding these tickets?

“Half of our customer services activity at the moment is reuniting customers with the tickets they bought in 2019 and 2020. So when that clog disappears, as it will, I think that’s when we can really start to see new on sales not being buffeted by those market forces.”

Slater and Oldham suggested the state of affairs in the UK was more favourable across the board, in part, due to being able to press ahead with a partial festival season in 2021.

Slater, who received the Golden Ticketer gong at the 2022 Arthur Awards, pointed to Ticketmaster’s stellar business in the final quarter of last year.

“We were really able to capture that pent-up demand that the pandemic brought,” she said. “Q4 was absolutely huge: We had Reading & Leeds sell out; Creamfields sell out; we’ve got new sites for festivals; there are lots of tickets out there, but we’re selling all our tickets as well.

“We’re really positive; we were lucky that we got the summer [2021] in the UK, so we’re in a slightly different position to everyone else.”

“People are demanding to have choice and flexibility now when it comes to buying tickets”

“The market’s certainly buoyant,” added Oldham, Dice’s VP of content, Europe. “We had over a million people go out in London last month, which is extraordinary. The place where it’s the most buzzy is with emerging talent – the waitlist for artists like Fred Again is astronomical. People are buying really early because they’ve got the protection of knowing that they can give their ticket back if they can’t go.”

James Fleury of price-capped ‘ethical’ ticket marketplace TicketSwap said the Amsterdam-based firm had already twice broken company records in the first four months of 2022, and backed up Oldham’s point on flexibility.

“People are demanding to have choice and flexibility now when it comes to buying tickets,” he said. “Buying a ticket anymore isn’t necessarily a commitment to attend that specific event. It is for the top four or five artists that I really love, but for the other artists where we maybe like one single or a couple of tracks… I think it’s important that we also promote that flexibility.

“Our challenge this year as a company is to educate both fans, but also partners – promoters and festivals – about why having that choice and flexibility is important on the fans’ side.”

 


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Dice boosts leadership team with senior hires

Ticketing and discovery platform Dice has bolstered its leadership team with four senior appointments.

Falko Mortiboys joins as VP of fan experience, Ali McCloud is made VP of partner relations, Antony Jackson is named head of expansion, Europe and Leon Sherman becomes head of artist partnerships, UK & Europe.

The company says the new hires highlights its commitment to scaling its offering into new markets, deepening its partner network and using technology and data to create a better live experience for artists and fans.

“Ali, Antony, Falko and Leon are great leaders who I’m confident will play an integral role in supercharging the growth of our platform”

“I’m very grateful to be working with such talented people at Dice and we spend a lot of time making sure we hire the right people,” says Dice CEO and founder Phil Hutcheon. “Ali, Antony, Falko and Leon are great leaders who I’m confident will play an integral role in supercharging the growth of our platform.”

London-based Mortiboys, who was previously director of data insights & CRM at Manchester United, is tasked with expanding Dice’s user experience globally, using research, data and insights to grow the fan community and deepen their engagement with the platform.

McCloud will work on growing the company’s network of venues, promoters and artists, with a focus on building long-term relationships with strategic live entertainment partners across the world. Based in New York, McCloud has previously held senior positions at ticketing companies including Eventbrite, Ticketfly and Ticketmaster.

Jackson will be responsible for deepening the company’s presence in its existing European markets as well as helping Dice break into new cities and countries. He joins from San Francisco-based micro-mobility company Spin. Prior to that, he was responsible for growing and expanding Deliveroo’s virtual brands concept globally.

Sherman makes the switch from SoundCloud, where he was global editorial director. He will be tasked with making the Dice platform indispensable for artists. He is a former head of marketing at global media and festival organisation Afropunk, and was also at Metropolis Music as a promoter and campaigns manager.

 


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Ticket sales soar past pre-pandemic levels

Top promoters and ticketing firms including DEAG, Dice, Event Genius and The Ticket Factory say that current ticket sales are even higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Event Genius, which serves more than 50 countries worldwide, says its ticket sales are outstripping 2019 levels by more than 25%.

“It’s been an incredibly strong and heartening start to 2022,” says the company’s CEO, Benjamin Leaver. “Demand for events is arguably at an all-time high, and we see lots of potential for growth this year which is immensely encouraging.

“We’re expecting 2022 and the next few years to become a landmark period for the events industries.”

According to an Event Genius customer survey conducted at the beginning of this year, fans are also digging a little deeper into their pockets for events.

“We’re expecting 2022 and the next few years to become a landmark period for the events industries”

“Such is the demand for events and experiences – both domestically and abroad – event-goers are now spending up to three times more on their domestic and international event trips than even pre-Covid levels,” Leaver says.

Dice, a UK-based mobile ticketing and discovery platform for live events and live streams, has also seen a replenished demand for live events since the pandemic.

“With the venues and festivals we can draw comparisons from, we’ve seen fan demand for live events higher than it was before the pandemic,” Andrew Foggin, global head of music at Dice, tells IQ. “The industry was in great shape before the pandemic, and it’s encouraging to see that it’s picking up where it left off.”

Foggin has witnessed a particularly strong demand for breakthrough artists such as PinkPantheress and Fred Again, each of which sold out multiple shows in minutes. “We’re generally seeing tickets selling out faster, with fans joining our Waiting List for sold-out shows in higher numbers than we’ve ever seen,” he says.

“We’re generally seeing tickets selling out faster”

Elsewhere, Berlin-based DEAG, whose core markets include Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Ireland and Denmark, has reported a 50-80% increase in ticket sales compared to pre-pandemic.

DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow says that family entertainment, concerts, and spoken word events are selling best at the moment, although he also explains that the dramatic increase is partly attributable to the company’s acquisition of six promoters during the pandemic.

“We are very much convinced we will see a record year, just by delivering the 5,000-plus shows we have on sale,” he recently told IQ.

Elsewhere, The Ticket Factory, one of the UK’s leading national ticketing agents, says its return to pre-pandemic levels of ticket sales is primarily driven by A-list artists.

“We are very much convinced we will see a record year”

“A busy schedule of major shows including the likes of Stormzy, Sam Fender and Little Mix, has certainly been one of the key drivers,” Richard Howle, director of ticketing at The Ticket Factory, tells IQ.

“But we’ve also been well aware that for many of our clients, 2022 is the first year since Covid where they’ll be able to run their usual annual events. So, not only are we feeling optimistic about the volume of current ticket sales – driven primarily by the A-list artists – but also our future pipeline with the return of several major events.”

The ticketing company, is owned by UK venue operator NEC Group and is the official box office for the NEC Birmingham as well as a ticket seller for many of the UK’s major music festivals.

“As the live events industry starts to feel more reminiscent of pre-pandemic times, we’re expecting more peaks than troughs this year – even bigger than what we’re experiencing right now,” adds Howle.

The Ticket Factory’s Richard Howle chairs the Ticketing: All change please! session at this year’s International Live Music Conference with guest speakers including Dice’s Amy Oldham, Ticketmaster’s Sarah Slater and others.

 


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International Ticketing Report 2021: Pandemic Lessons

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 secondary ticketing, click here.


Dealing with the various Covid restrictions, lobbying for government support, and having to make difficult decisions over staff cuts have been unprecedented tasks for ticketing company senior management over the past 18 months. But what have been the biggest lessons that they have learned throughout the crisis?

Eventim’s chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff is optimistic following the long pause in business. “People’s longing for live entertainment remains unbroken even after 18 months of pandemic, and the fans’ loyalty to their favourite artists,” he says.

“What was and is also great is the cohesion of our employees during the pandemic and how everyone worked together to ensure that CTS Eventim emerges even stronger from the crisis.”

But he is all too aware that the industry needs to do more to elevate its status in the minds of politicians. “Culture and the people’s need for culture and live entertainment apparently do not always enjoy the status in politics that would be desirable,” he says.

“Our industry was the first to go and the last to return, and it was tough,” says Ticketmaster’s Mark Yovich. “As a global business with global teams, we had colleagues experiencing every possible pandemic scenario at different times – so learnings, advice, and sympathetic ears were invaluable. They say your colleagues are like your family, and I never felt that more than over the last 18 months.

“Promoters and venues have had the opportunity to look into their ticketing needs in far greater detail than ever before”

“Throughout it all, to see our teams come together at this time to innovate, build, and execute incredible features as well as deliver incredibly complex customer service support in such short timeframes was truly inspiring.

“It was our job to deliver the tools our clients so desperately required in this crisis – and we did just that. So much so that we’ve had an abundance of new clients come knocking who saw this work and are now turning to us in need of a reliant, industry-leading ticketing service as they navigate the return to live.”

Total Ticketing‘s Martin Haigh sees opportunity for boutique ticketing firms to gain a stronger foothold as the recovery plays out.

“We feel that promoters and venues have had the opportunity to look into their ticketing needs in far greater detail than ever before and as such are way more self-educated and open to exploring new opportunities. So, this is a good time to erode into the incumbents’ market share,” he says.

At Dice, Russ Tannen also sees opportunity. “We discovered a huge underserved live music audience living outside of major cities,” he states. But he laments that, “There isn’t enough transparency for artists in live.”

TixTrack CEO Steven Sunshine observes, “We have seen the past 18 months as a strong positive as it has made ticket sellers more interested in mobile and cloud-based solutions as well as digital ticket delivery, timed-entry ticketing, and many other features and functions that have been a part of our ticketing offering even pre-Covid.”

“We discovered a huge underserved live music audience living outside of major cities”

On a positive note, Skiddle’s head of marketing, Jamie Scahill, believes consumer confidence will not take long to rebuild. “We’ve seen a yearning by all demographics of the public to get back out and experience events and we’re confident that this demand will be set to continue as more and more people become comfortable with going out again,” he says.

“The pandemic has highlighted how good the live entertainment ticketing industry is,” states The Ticket Factory‘s Richard Howle. “Our primary concern was to do the right thing by our clients and customers and that passion to deliver great service has shone through.

“As an industry we normally only make the headlines when things go wrong and the fact that we have gone through the last 18 months with very little in the way of bad headlines, particularly when compared to other industries, such as travel, is testament to what a good job we have done.”

And looking at things from a personal point of view, AXS director of ticketing Paul Newman says, “The last 18 months have made me realise the importance of both physical and mental wellbeing, and I fully intend to carry forward the good habits I have developed in both my professional and personal life.

“Business-wise, I think that maybe the ticketing industry realises there is a stronger need to work together on finding solutions to the issues we all face.”

 


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International Ticketing Report 2021: New products and services

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 communication, click here.


Event Genius & Festicket CEO Benjamin Leaver notes that the pandemic shutdown created additional time for individuals and companies to develop new products and services – time that ticketing service providers the world over have been exploiting.

“One of the biggest takeaways for us is the accelerated embrace of technology in the industry, from digital ticketing to contactless access and cashless payment systems,” Leaver says. “Although the adoption has been quicker because of the pandemic, we strongly believe the change will benefit the industry in the long-term.”

AXS director of ticketing, Paul Newman, agrees. “The last 18 months have afforded us the opportunity to accelerate the development of a number of initiatives that would have otherwise taken far longer to implement,” he says, citing AXS opening up its mobile ID technology to other ticket agents.

“Taking notice of the feedback from the customer sentiment surveys we have undertaken; we have introduced venue iconography and other features into our purchase flow to give returning customers the information and reassurances they seek to return to live events.”

Weezevent CEO, Pierre-Henri Deballon, says: “Over the last 18 months, we have essentially worked on the relaunch: the challenge was to ensure that the teams were ready for the relaunch and that the product was also ready. To do this, we worked on international development by buying the company PlayPass.

“We also reworked our capital structure by buying out the shares of Veepee, which was a shareholder of Weezevent, in order to be completely independent. This makes us one of the few truly independent European players in our sector.”

“The last 18 months have afforded us the opportunity to accelerate the development of a number of initiatives”

It’s also been a time for acquisitions at Dice, which bought Boiler Room, as well as completing a $122m (€105m) funding exercise.

“We built-out our live-stream offering working with 6,400 artists on quality streams; we developed and rolled out a completely new client tool with collaboration from our partners; we made massive design and functionality improvements across our app and website; and we opened up a new HQ in New York,” says Russ Tannen of Dice.

On a B2B level, Leaver says, “We developed our Ticket Management Portal [TMP], which allows event organisers to be fully track-and-trace compliant by collecting all attendee details. The TMP also allows fans to easily share tickets with friends, as well as letting organisers seamlessly communicate with all eventgoers rather than solely lead bookers.”

Fair Ticket Solutions’ founder & CEO, Alan Gelfand, meanwhile, says, “We have spent the time evolving our identity-based platform to include a pre-clearance tie-in of the health requirements to activate all types of ticket formats.”

And in Hong Kong, Total Ticketing‘s Martin Haigh tells IQ, “We have developed a global distribution system allowing us to ingest ticketing inventory from a large number of inventory holders and redistribute it to hundreds of agents, managing CMS, sales, invoices, credits. This allows for massive increased discovery.

“Alongside the ongoing development of our ticketing software, we have also created Total Streaming to give promoters the ability to mix and match in person and streamed sales through our platforms and to geofence viewers and enforce a single-viewer-per-link on our streams.”

“We took this moment to take our business global”

Mark Yovich says the pandemic pause allowed Ticketmaster to fulfil long-held ambitions. “We took this moment to take our business global,” he says. “Our goal was to unify across the globe as a single team with a single mission – to innovate and build one incredible experience for fans and clients wherever they are in the world.”

“CTS Eventim has used the time of the pandemic for numerous strategic initiatives to emerge even stronger from the crisis,” reports chief operating officer Alexander Ruoff. “These include product developments. Among these, our digital ticket EVENTIM.Pass stands out in particular.”

Taking the opportunity to “make ticketing more seamless for both the promoter and customer,” Skiddle’s head of marketing, Jamie Scahill, says. “Over the last 18 months, we’ve launched our beta Promotion Centre to current promoters, built from the ground-up.

“[It] provides new features such as bulk-editing events, bulk-embargoing events, new dashboards, embed-listing widgets for promoters and more. We’ve also introduced a DIY payment plan builder for promoters to have greater control over the payment plans they want to offer to customers.”

Not to be outdone, Richard Howle says The Ticket Factory is close to completing an overhaul of its payment systems, offering increased security for customers when they are booking online.

“We have also installed a brand-new telephone system in our dedicated contact centre. It’s becoming increasingly rare in the ticketing industry for this kind of personalised interaction – and it’s something we’re committed to and really value as a business,” says Howle.

 


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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.”

 


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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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UK ticketing platform Dice raises $122m in funding

Dice, the UK-based mobile ticketing and discovery platform for live events and live streams, has raised up to US$122 million in Series C funding.

The round was led by new investor, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, with follow on investments from Tony Fadell’s Future Shape, Blisce, French entrepreneur Xavier Niel, Mirabaud Private Equity, Cassius and Evolution.

In addition, Tony Fadell, iPod inventor and iPhone co-inventor, is joining the Dice board to support further platform development and expansion into venues.

Launched in London in 2014, the mobile-first platform now works with over 3,600 venues, festivals and promoters globally.

According to Dice, with the company’s current rate of growth, 49,000 artists and creators will use the platform by the end of 2022.

The platform is live in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Australia and, since 2019, the US. In October, Dice rolled out its app in India.

“We’re overhauling an unfair, inefficient system by pioneering a transparent, data-led, fan-first approach”

In April 2020, Dice expanded its offering with live streams and has since worked on exclusive live streams with Laura Marling, Nick Cave, Kylie Minogue and Bjork.

“Dice is rewiring the live experiences industry. We have proven that if you treat fans well, they go out more,” says Phil Hutcheon, CEO and founder of Dice.

“We’re overhauling an unfair, inefficient system by pioneering a transparent, data-led, fan-first approach – building a scalable ecosystem that helps artists, promoters and venues thrive. To have SoftBank as a partner enables us to expand into every market.”

Fadell says: “The concert business is a tangled mess of archaic tools and taxing ‘industry standards’ where artists are paid last. Venues shell out for marketing and are beholden to ticket conglomerates. Fans have to hunt for shows and regularly buy overpriced tickets from secondary markets or scalpers. This doesn’t make sense!

“Dice re-engineers the entire live industry, not just a part of it: Venues are connected to fans and artists. Artists get transparency, access and control. Fans easily discover local shows and global live streams, and buy scalper-safe tickets with a single click. I’m ecstatic to be joining the Dice board and to be part of another entertainment revolution.”

In the last year, Dice has worked with 6,400 artists and sold tickets to fans in 179 countries.


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Russ Tannen promoted to president of Dice

Russ Tannen, formerly chief revenue officer of ticketing firm Dice, has been promoted to president of the company, having relocated to New York to take up his new role.

Tannen, a founder member of the Dice team, now oversees the UK-based company’s second headquarters in New York, having played a key role in its expansion across Europe in recent years.

“We’re building our second HQ in New York and investing heavily in North America to bring fans the most amazing events at the best venues with zero hassle,” said Phil Hutcheon, founder and CEO of Dice. “The world is about to experience the biggest growth in live entertainment in history and Dice is backing the best partners to do so.”

As part of its expansion in North America, Dice has signed exclusive deals with independent New York venues and promoters including Avant Gardner, Brooklyn Made, Elsewhere, United Palace and Saint Vitus. It is also recruiting for more than 20 roles across marketing, operations, brand and artist partnerships in its new US team.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to build Dice’s position in the US and around the world”

“New York is a city that knows how to go out and we have always had our sights set on expanding our presence here. It’s awesome to be tasked to lead the effort,” says Russ Tannen. “There is a tangible energy and excitement for everyone to be out again.

“We’re building an epic team who will make sure that, as it comes back, live music is better for fans, venues, promoters and artists. I’m looking forward to continuing to build Dice’s position in the US and around the world.”

Other new hires for Dice include Jordan Gremli and Jo McNally, both of whom join the company after spells at Spotify.

Gremli, who has been appointed head of artist development, will work with artist and creator partners to manage all aspects of Dice’s livestreaming business, while McNally, the new new global head of music licensing, will oversee licensing in all existing and future Dice territories.

 


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