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Touts burnt as Fire Fight Australia sells out

The Fire Fight Australia benefit concert has sold out, promoters TEG Dainty and TEG Dainty have confirmed, with Sydney’s ANZ Stadium set to host more than 70,000 concertgoers for over nine hours of music on Sunday 16 February.

Organisers revealed yesterday that some 65,000 tickets had been sold in under five hours for the Queen-headlined benefit, which aims to raise funds to provide relief for those fighting or affected by the Australian bushfires. All profits from concert tickets will be donated to rural and regional fire services, the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery programme and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Bushfire Appeal.

Other performers include Alice Cooper, KD Lang, Olivia Newton-John, Delta Goodrem and Tina Arena, with a second wave set to be announced in the coming weeks.

All tickets for the benefit have been removed from eBay

Inevitably, tickets for the event – only available initially through TEG-owned Ticketek – have already started to be listed on secondary sales websites, with The Music reporting bids of up to A$455 (compared to a face value of $100) on eBay.

However, Viagogo – to the surprise of many – is preventing the resale of Fire Fight tickets, and an eBay spokesperson tells The Music all tickets for the benefit have been removed from their website.

Fire Fight Australia is one of a number of benefit concerts taking place in Australia in aid of bushfire relief. Details of Sound Relief 2020, a concert organised by leading Australian promoters Chugg Entertainment, Frontier Touring, Live Nation Australia, Secret Sounds and IMC Music HQ, will be released soon. Live Nation’s Australian businesses, meanwhile, have pledged $500,000 to bushfire relief.

 


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The decade in live: 2011

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

Following on from the 2010 synopsis, IQ looks to 2011, a year in which rising unemployment and astronomical national debts continued to take its toll on spending habits. The live industry experienced a slower period, indicating signs of maturity after years of fast growth.

Extreme weather led to festival cancellations and, tragically, the loss of lives at Pukkelpop and Indiana State Fair. Festival attendance, however, stayed strong, with festival bosses commenting that the demand for festivals was definitely still there.

2011 also saw U2 take the crown for the most successful concert tour in history, dethroning the Rolling Stones with their mammoth 360° tour. The Irish rockers were on course to retain the record into the new decade, too, before Ed Sheeran came along.

 


2011 in numbers

Worldwide, the top 50 tours grossed US$3.07 billion in 2011, up from $2.9bn the previous year.

According to Pollstar, U2 were the most successful band of 2011. A back injury sustained by Bono in 2010 saw many dates on the 360° tour postponed to the following year, with the band selling 2.4 million tickets over the year – at an average price of $97 each.

The stadium tour, which typically drew crowds of almost 92,000 per show, grossed $231.9m in 2011, adding to the $133.6m earned on the 2010 leg.

Other major tours of 2011 included Take That’s reunion tour with Robbie Williams ($224m), the Bon Jovi Live tour ($148.8), Taylor Swift’s Speak Now tour ($104.2m) and Roger Waters’ The Wall Live tour ($103.6m).

 


2011 in brief

January
AEG opens the 52,000-cap. Türk Telekom Arena in Istanbul, later winning the contract to manage the 12,500-cap. Ülker Arena in the same city.

Serbia’s Exit Festival ends its business relationship with Charmenko agency and begins booking international artists directly.

February
Ticketmaster buys Spanish ticketing company ServiCaixa, allowing it to sell tickets through over 8,000 ATMs owned by financial services company and bank La Caixa.

Live Nation takes full control of Front Line Management, with its founder Irving Azoff becoming chairman of the Live Nation board, taking over from Liberty Media’s John Malone.

March
Nelly Furtado announces she is giving the $1m fess she was paid for performing in front of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi in 2007 to charity. Beyoncé follows suit.

President of Madison Square Garden Jay Marciano moves to London to take up a new role as CEO of AEG Europe.

The decade in live: 2011

Irving Azoff took over as Live Nation chairman in 2011 (© Full Stop Management)

April
International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) figures show that global music sales fell $1.4bn in 2010, with the UK market dropping 11%, the US dropping 10% and Japan dropping 8.3%.

U2’s 360° tour becomes the highest-grossing tour of all time, beating the Rolling Stones’ Bigger Bang tour record of $554m. 360° is set to gross over $700m by the time it ends.

May
US ticketing company Eventbrite, which integrates social media and mobile, announces a $50m influx of venture-capital finance.

Gil Scott-Heron dies in New York at the age of 62.

June
German festival promoter Folkert Koopmans announces his second Swedish festival in Norrköping, the 50,000-cap. Bråvalla Festival, following the January acquisition of Hultsfred Festival.

Bloomberg reports that AEG plans to refinance the O2 Arena in London with a £150m ($240m) loan and equity injection.

The decade in live: 2011

U2’s record-breaking 360° tour (resized) © Kristian Strøbech/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

July
Promoter Vince Power raises £6.5m ($10.4m) by floating his company, Music Festivals, on London’s Alternative Investment Market exchange.

SMG secures a management contract for Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile, its first in South America.

August
AEG launches its new ticketing system, AXS, in several Denver and San Francisco theatres. The system includes a mobile app and social media integration.

Belgium’s Pukkelpop creates a private foundation to support the victims of the storm that claimed five lives at the festival on 19 August.

September
Global entertainment giant Vivendi buys UK number two ticketer See Tickets for a sum thought to be around £80m ($128m).

eBay announces it will launch secondary resale platform StubHub in the UK, the first market it will have operated in outside of the US.

The decade in live: 2011

Santiago’s Movistar Arena (© Movistar Arena)

October
German powerhouse FKP Scorpio continues its buying spree by taking a majority stake in Sweden’s Getaway Festival.

2011’s biggest-selling artist, Adele, undergoes throat surgery to repair damaged vocal chords, forcing her to cancel all remaining tour dates and promotional appearance for the year.

November
Bankers Citigroup agree to sell EMI Music to Universal Music Group for $1.9bn, while EMI Music Publishing will become part of Sony ATV in a $2.2bn deal.

Michael Jackson’s physician, Dr Conrad Murray, is found guilty of manslaughter.

December

Live Nation emerges victorious in the saga for the rights to run the new €134m 15,000-capacity arena in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Seatwave chief Joe Cohen denies speculation the ticket resale company is in financial trouble, despite reports it has amassed losses of €40m since 2007.

 


The decade in live: 2011

Amy Winehouse (1983-2011) © Republic Records (cropped)

Who we lost

In 2011, the music industry lost a number of important figures, including Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty, 63; agent Ron Baird, who opened CAA’s Nashville office in 1991, 60; legendary soul and jazz musician Gil Scott Heron, 62; Willie Robertson, co-founder of insurance specialist Robertson Taylor, 67; award-winning singer Amy Winehouse, 27; Academy Music Group founder John Northcote, 62.

 


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“A huge concern”: Live industry reacts to StubHub buy

Controversial secondary ticketing site Viagogo yesterday (25 November) acquired StubHub from eBay in a US$4.05 billion all-cash deal, returning both companies to founder Eric Baker’s hands and eliciting strong reactions across the live music industry.

The sale to Viagogo – a consequence of pressure from eBay shareholders for the company to divest itself of StubHub – followed reported interest from multiple parties, including US resale marketplace Vivid Seats, and saw the e-commerce giant receive almost 13 times its original investment.

As IQ speaks to ticketing experts and commentators, a question on the lips of many is: “Just how did Baker raise the funds for the all-cash deal?”

More technical concerns include what the deal means for the future of the secondary ticketing market; how it may be used to “detoxify” Viagogo’s brand – or not; how regulators will react to the deal; and how much more likely are consumers to get ripped off.

 


Adam Webb, campaign manager, FanFair Alliance
“This feels like a desperate move from both parties.

“However, news of this acquisition should be a major concern for both audiences and music businesses – especially if Viagogo, a company that recently had a court order hanging over its head and is still the subject of a CMA investigation, uses this process as an attempt to detoxify its brand.

“FanFair will be writing to UK regulators and politicians and we reiterate our advice to music fans to avoid these sites.”

Katie O’Leary, campaign lead, Feat (Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing)
“It’s alarming to think of Viagogo potentially gaining an even greater stronghold in the secondary ticketing market, given it’s been the subject of various legal actions across Europe and banned from advertising on Google globally. (Google last lifted Viagogo’s ban on advertising. For more information, click here.)

“Viagogo claims this will create a ‘win-win for fans’, but further consolidation in the secondary ticketing market would most likely restrict competition, and further negatively impact fans.

“We hope that regulators will have consumers’ best interests at heart when considering this deal, and consider not only the question of Viagogo’s increased dominance but also whether they can be considered a fit and proper owner.”

“We hope that regulators will have consumers’ best interests at heart, and consider whether Viagogo can be considered a fit and proper owner”

Anton Lockwood, director of live, DHP Family
“Coupled with the disturbing news that Google is allowing Viagogo to advertise again, we see this as a step backwards in the fight against inflated price secondary ticketing, Viagogo’s brand has become toxic in the last few years and this seems like an attempt to cleanse it.

“At DHP we stand strongly against unscrupulous traders selling tickets at inflated prices, at the expense of genuine fans – this acquisition can only serve to further that, and we urge the regulators to look very closely at what the new company does.

“We always advise buying tickets from primary vendors or face value secondary vendors who are members of Star to obtain genuine tickets, at the correct price with consumer protection in place.”

Neo Sala, founder and CEO, Doctor Music Concerts
“Viagogo may hope that their reputation will be greenwashed through association with Stubhub, who have historically kept more in line with regulation — but both have a long history of ripping off fans.

“I have no doubt that if this gets cleared it will be bad news for fans, as well as those of us who invest in the live sector. Coupled with the news from Google, it’s really concerning to see things take such a backwards step.”

“At DHP we stand strongly against unscrupulous traders selling tickets at inflated prices, at the expense of genuine fans”

Claudio Trotta, founder, Barley Arts
“In my more than 40 years in the business, this is one of the worst pieces of news I have received.

“It is really scary – first of all, the fact that Viagogo can spend $4 billion in cash is very worrying. Secondly, that Viagogo has bought a competitor that operates in most countries in the world means we are really far away from winning the battle against this cancer – and I do truly believe it is a cancer. I am sure they have made this deal because they absolutely know they can carry on doing secondary ticketing in the majority of countries in the world and circumvent the laws that are in place.

“This is very bad for the future of industry – for music, for punters, and for overall quality. Music is in danger of becoming only for rich people and for fanatics – the only people capable of paying inflated secondary prices.

“We need to do something against this, otherwise live music will be dead in the way we know it. With these prices, there would be no new acts either, which means no more future.

“In Italy, there is a law against secondary ticketing, and also a law on nominative tickets. I am the only one of the major Italian promoters in favour of this law. I think the future is to have complete digitalisation of tickets, and for each to have a unique code. This is the only way to fight secondary ticketing.”

“In my more than 40 years in the business, this is one of the worst pieces of news I have received”

Dave Newton, ticketing professional
“In North America the deal will make no noticeable change as StubHub already dominates the resale market along with having an appreciable share of the primary market (especially in the sports sector) and Viagogo has no presence there.

“But in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere, we may see the increasingly toxic Viagogo brand put out to pasture as its market share is folded into the now-established StubHub brand in each of these territories.

“There is a scenario whereby the Viagogo brand is kept alive for a while as a way of deflecting anti-tout activity and attention from StubHub which has been generally been regarded as ‘the best of a bad bunch’ over the last five years. Viagogo could soak up the emotional ire of the media, customers and the events industry while StubHub quietly holds onto its more collaborative and conciliatory reputation.

“Could we see primary ticketing agencies launching resale platforms in Europe if StubHub succeeds in becoming the acceptable face for touting? There may also now be room for significantly-funded new entrants into the space.

“And where does this leave the ticket-buying fan? No less ripped-off, that’s for sure.”

“We may see the increasingly toxic Viagogo brand put out to pasture as its market share is folded into the now-established Stubhub brand”

Annabella Coldrick, CEO, MMF (Music Managers’ Forum)
“On the back of the FanFair Alliance campaign, we’ve seen huge steps to reform the UK’s secondary ticketing market and put a stop to the rip-off, anti-fan practices of sites like Viagogo. For that reason, the announcement is a huge concern.

“The consolidation of the biggest remaining platforms for ticket touts could potentially reverse progress and cause untold harm for audiences and artists alike.”

Rob Wilmshurst, CEO, See Tickets
“I had to check my calendar to make sure it was not April Fools’ Day. I am very, very surprised, not just at the scale of the deal but at where the cash might have come from.

“I am no fan of ticket touting so I can’t say it made my day but it is what it is. In any case, I congratulate Eric for pulling it off.”

Richard Davies, CEO, Twickets
“This is further terrible news for ticketing as two deceitful operators combine forces in order to further turn the screw on the consumer. It demonstrates the need more than ever for a specialist face value resale service that properly serves genuine fans.”

“The consolidation of the biggest remaining platforms for ticket touts could cause untold harm for audiences and artists alike”

Maarten Bloemers, CEO, Guts Tickets
“In five years I expect this to be deemed a total waste of money. It’s a joining of forces of two eerily similar entities companies, the main similarity being that they do not care in the slightest about the consumer they are supposedly serving.

“Technological innovation is making these businesses obsolete, and will put the priority back with the consumer, where it belongs.

Jonathan Brown, chief executive, Star (The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers)
“We note with interest the news that Viagogo has bought StubHub and will continue to watch developments closely.

“Customers need to know where they can buy tickets reliably from authorised sources and the best way of doing this is to always buy from Star members who have signed up to our code of practice and approved dispute resolution service.”

Adam French, consumer rights expert, Which?
“Viagogo has a long history of ripping off music and sports fans and had to be threatened with court action after failing to provide vital information to customers, so any move to increase its grip on the secondary ticketing sector is likely to be a worry for consumers.

“The regulator should closely examine this deal and the impact it could have on competition in the sector to ensure consumers do not lose out.”

This article will be updated with more reactions as IQ receives them.

 


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Vivid Seats eyes up potential StubHub sale

Chicago-based secondary ticketing company Vivid Seats is among parties interested in acquiring StubHub from e-commerce giant Ebay, Bloomberg reports.

In July, IQ reported that Ebay was moving forward with the potential sale of StubHub, which it bought for US$310 million in 2007, with “multiple” parties showing interest.

The e-commerce platform announced a review of the secondary site’s “role and value”, after reportedly receiving pressure from investor Elliott Management to separate from the ticketer.

Now, it has been revealed “by people familiar with the matter”, that fellow secondary site, Vivid Seats, is among those in the running to buy StubHub, for what is believed to be as much as $3 billion. Buyout firm KKR & Co has also reportedly shown interest.

Backed by private equity firms GTCR and Vista Equity Partners, Vivid Seats recently made its first acquisition, buying ticket distributor Fanxchange, in a deal worth $65m. Vista is believed to value the company at around $1.5bn.

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018, StubHub and Vivid Seats are among the United States’ four biggest secondary market players, along with Ticketmaster and SeatGeek. All four also operate in the primary sector.

 


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StubHub appoints Dan Jones VP of international

The world’s largest secondary ticketing site, StubHub, has appointed Dan Jones as vice president of international.

Based in Madrid, Jones will oversee operations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Asia Pacific region, driving US-born StubHub’s expansion worldwide.

Jones joins the secondary ticketer from Ancestry, the world’s largest genealogy website, where he served as senior vice president and general manager of international.

StubHub president Sukhinder Singh Cassidy comments that “cross border trade and internationalisation are a core focus” for the company.

“Cross border trade and internationalisation are a core focus for us [StubHub]”

“Dan is a fantastic addition to the team and his international experience – combined with his natural passion for the industry – are a great fit for his role to continue to grow our offerings, globally,” adds Singh Cassidy.

“I’m really excited to be joining StubHub at a time when the company is looking to expand its offerings to customers,” says Jones, and at a time when we’re responding to customer trends and needs more quickly and more thoughtfully than ever before.”

StubHub, owned by eBay, sells a ticket on average every 1.1 seconds worldwide. Madrid-based Miguel Giribet Giral joined the company in March to spearhead international growth.

 


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Ebay explores potential StubHub sale

E-commerce giant Ebay is believed to be moving forward with the potential sale of StubHub, with “multiple” parties showing interest, reports CNBC.

Ebay, which bought StubHub for $310m in 2007, is reassessing its ownership of the resale marketplace following recommendations from investors.

“The company is actively reviewing the role and value of StubHub to determine the best path forward to maximise shareholder value,” an Ebay spokesperson tells IQ.

Activist hedge fund Elliott Management announced a US$1.4 billion stake in Ebay in January, equating to more than 4% of the company’s shares. Following the investment, Elliott reportedly put pressure on Ebay to part ways with the San Francisco-based ticketer.

“We’re making significant progress and actively reviewing the role and value [of StubHub]”

In its Enhancing Ebay Plan, Elliot suggests that StubHub is “worth considerably more than the value currently being ascribed” to it. The hedge fund indicates that “separating” from StubHub “would allow eBay’s management team to refocus its efforts solely on the core marketplace business.”

StubHub delivered revenue of $264 million in the second quarter of 2019. Ebay’s net income for the quarter totalled $403 million, with revenue at $2.7 billion.

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018, StubHub is one of four major secondary market players in the United States, along with VividSeats, Ticketmaster and SeatGeek.

IQ has contacted StubHub for comment.

 


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Wacken Open Air 2019 sold out already

Just weeks after the closing acts of this year’s festival, tickets for Wacken Open Air 2019 have already sold out. A total of 75,000 tickets have been purchased for the 2019 event, which will celebrate 30 years of the world’s biggest heavy metal gathering.

In a statement on their website, the Wacken team thanked fans for their show of support. “We are completely overwhelmed by your loyalty and your support which seems to be unbroken for almost 30 years now,” it reads.

“We promise to achieve an Anniversary which you shall remember for a long time! You are and were always the heart of our festival and without you all of this would not be possible.”

However, amongst the excitement and gratitude, organisers have also issued a warning to fans who were unable to get tickets to next year’s event to stay away from secondary ticketing outlets.  Organisers have told fans to avoid buying tickets from eBay, Viagogo, Laolaevents, Global-tickets, Eventtickets24 and tickets75, adding that this list of what they deem to be untrustworthy retailers may be added to in the run up to 2019’s event.

“We are completely overwhelmed by your loyalty and your support which seems to be unbroken for almost 30 years now”

“We have no business relationship with these and other platforms and dealers,” reads a statement from organisers.

“Many of the pages have not only attracted attention by inflated prices, but also by the sale of stolen or deactivated tickets. In some cases, they are even selling tickets that they do not own at all.”

Their warning follows a recent similar caution from the Singapore Police Force, after a rise in the number of fraudulent tickets being sold through secondary marketplaces. In some cases, victims parted with up to S$400 only to receive blank sheets of paper in place of tickets.

Fans are being advised to join the Wacken Open Air 2019 official waiting list for tickets. It is expected that a number of spaces will come available over the course of the next ten days, due to ticket returns and advance payments not being made in time.

 


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eBay stock drops as StubHub growth slows

After announcing that some 300 jobs were to be cut from its staff in California and lowering its revenue forecast for the rest of the year due to sluggish growth, StubHub’s parent company eBay suffered its worst day on the stock market in nearly two years last Thursday (19 July).

The day saw the value of stock drop by ten percent. As the market closed on Wednesday, stock stood at $37.95 but just 24 hours later the value had plummeted to $34.11 after a day of ups and downs.

After missing Credit Suisse’s quarterly expectations, secondary ticketing service StubHub is thought to have played a key role in the misfortune. Despite reporting a four percent rise in revenue to US$246 million, this was the company’s slowest growth since second quarter 2017. Executives at eBay have put this down largely to a poor sports season in the US, meaning tickets simply weren’t being bought and sold.

“When reports of layoffs are followed by a stock decline, it’s a particularly worrisome development all around.”

“It was a historically bad MLB (baseball) start of the season … and it was a 4-game NBA (basketball) series, it was a 5-game Final Series, it was a 5-game hockey series. There were just a lot of things that broke the wrong way on the landscape,” commented eBay’s CEO Devin Wenig.

Wenig went on to say he did expect the landscape to improve for the rest of the year. This was echoed in a note for investors written by analysts at financial services firm Raymond James. “Marketplace initiatives… are ramping slower than expected and likely shifts potential acceleration to 2019,” reads the note. It goes on to say StubHub’s growth “is likely to remain challenging in the near term.”

The fact eBay’s downturn happened after it announced a cut to staff is thought to be particularly concerning. Kevin Kelleher noted in an article for Fortune that “News of layoffs frequently leads to an increase in share prices, as investors anticipate lower costs will improve profits.

“When reports of layoffs are followed by a stock decline, it’s a particularly worrisome development all around.”

 


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Austin’s Parish sells on eBay for $376,000

The Parish, the Austin, Texas, venue listed for sale on eBay, has sold to an undisclosed bidder for US$376,000.

The auction – which included the business, a 12-year lease on the venue, the chance to renew its alcohol licence and its current bookings, bar and sound equipment – ended on Sunday 10 December after 239 bids by 37 bidders. Doug Guller, founder of former Parish operator ATX Brands, decided earlier this year to sell his live music venues to concentrate on growing ‘breastaurant’ brands Bikini’s and Happy Chicks.

In July ATX sold outdoor music venue Scoot Inn to Austin-based promoter C3 Presents.

According to the Austin Chronicle, the 430-cap. Parish (pictured) garnered $250,000 in bids over the first three days, then stagnated for five days before taking before reaching the $375,000 mark on Friday. The reserve price for the listing appears to have been between $240,000 and $250,000.

 


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Venue to be sold on eBay

If you look hard enough you can find most things for sale on eBay, but this one’s a real novelty: Austin, Texas, venue The Parish is being sold off on the auction site.

The 435-capacity venue is in the heart of the city’s entertainment district, and will be listed from 1-10 December. But it’s not the building itself up for grabs, but the business, its current bookings, bar, sound equipment, 12-year lease and the chance to renew the alcohol licence.

Owner ATX Brands’ boss Doug Guller told Venues Today he’s putting the business on eBay because he wants to bypass the traditional music industry networks; and is hoping to bring in new blood to the self-proclaimed “live music capital of the world” (ahem).

“Hopefully it’ll be sold to someone in the industry that can take it to the next level.”

“I wanted to cast a wide net, and when things like properties come up for sale, the broker usually just sends the info out to their email list and that’s it,” he said. “Properties trade very well with brokers, but when it comes to selling an entire business, there’s not really a set formula or process for how to get it done.”

“Hopefully it’s someone in the industry that can afford a venue like The Parish and can take it to the next level.”

Bidding starts at $1, although Guller admits he’s set an undisclosed reserve price that must be reached for the deal to go through. He says he’s looking for someone

ATX Brands decided earlier this year to sell its live music venues to concentrate on growing his “breastaurant” brands Bikini’s and Happy Chicks. In July it sold outdoor music venue Scoot Inn to Austin-based promoter C3 Presents.

Although it’s rarely a stop for national tours, artists to have played small-scale appearances at The Parish include Slash, Perry Farrell, Leon Bridges and Pete Townsend.


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