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Viagogo agrees to website changes after EU action

Viagogo has committed to improving terms and consumer information on its website following a three-year investigation by the European Commission (EC).

The agreed changes, which must be implemented to the versions of its website directed at EU/EEA consumers by the end of August 2024, include informing consumers on whether the seller of a ticket is a trader, and substantially reducing the number of countdown messages that appear when making a purchase.

In addition, the secondary ticketing site will allow customers to choose an exact seat number on their ticket, where possible, and include delivery fees in the displayed price where there is only one delivery option available for a ticket. There will also be more time to apply for a refund under Viagogo’s ‘discretionary’ ticket guarantee scheme, as featured this week on the BBC’s Watchdog consumer advice programme in the UK.

The agreement further clarifies that EU citizens will be protected by their national consumer laws and can take actions against Viagogo, if needed, in their own country of residence.

The Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Network, coordinated by the EC, began a dialogue with Viagogo in April 2021. As a result of this first coordinated action from the EU, the Swiss-headquartered resale platform has agreed to implement a number of changes and clarifications to several clauses in its terms & conditions by the end of August.

“Consumers buying second hand tickets must understand exactly what they buy, the potential risks they face when tickets do not come from authorised retailers and that scarcity claims may only be a trick to make them purchase at a higher price,” says Věra Jourová, the EC’s VP for values and transparency. “I hope the commitments made by Viagogo will bring the company’s website and terms and conditions more in line with the requirements of EU consumer protection law. I call on this market leader now to ensure a swift and accurate implementation of its commitments across the Union.”

“We expect this will save lots of time and money in legal battles, which the live performance sector can ill afford”

A Viagogo spokesperson says: “Following a period of ongoing cooperation with the European Commission and the CPC Network, we have agreed to make amendments to our platform that will further enhance our consumer protection measures by the implementation deadline.

“Viagogo remains fully committed to fulfilling all legal obligations and ensuring compliance in all markets in which we operate. We are pleased to have reached a resolution and underline our commitment to prioritising fan safety and access.”

Commenting on the development, Sam Shemtob, director of the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT), says: “FEAT has been calling for better enforcement for rogue ticket resale marketplaces for five years. This is the EU’s first coordinated action, and introduces some of the most far-reaching consumer protection for European consumers to date.

“The changes will also prove incredibly useful in promoters’ efforts to curtail ticket scalping. We expect this will save lots of time and money in legal battles, which the live performance sector can ill afford.”

Nevertheless, Viagogo has refused to commit to changes the CPC Network had requested around informing consumers about the amount of possible delivery fees at the beginning of the purchase procedure, as well as making clearer to consumers that they may have additional rights when their event is cancelled or postponed.

“The CPC Network urged Viagogo to address these issues as well and may resort to enforcement actions as necessary,” says the EC. “The CPC Network will now actively monitor how Viagogo implements its commitments. If Viagogo does not implement the commitments properly within the agreed timeframe or if it fails to address the remaining concerns raised by the CPC Network, national consumer authorities may decide to take measures to enforce compliance, including sanctions.”


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Music contributes to our European identity

We are all too aware how severely this unprecedented crisis has affected the cultural and creative sectors, in particular the world of music. It was heartbreaking to see clubs and concert halls forced to shut down, leaving the artists and those supporting them without any income.

This happened at a time when, due to the changing patterns of music consumption, live acts and concerts had become one of the most important income sources for music performers.

My priority was to act quickly, within my remit, to help the cultural and creative sector including the music sector. Over the last eight or nine months, we have seen, on the one hand, the sector’s extraordinary capacity to mobilise and be creative at all levels, but on the other, the need for resources, targeted investment, and greater support in such critical moments.

Indeed, it was to music that we turned to keep our spirits up; music has helped us maintain a sense of community at a time when social distancing became the norm. I take this opportunity to thank all the professionals from the music industry for what they gave us.

Music has helped us maintain a sense of community at a time when social distancing became the norm

For this reason, there are strong calls for Member States to dedicate at least 2% of national recovery and resilience facility budgets to culture. This would come in addition to other horizontal measures that we introduced to kickstart the economy, which are also beneficial for the cultural and creative sectors. We have promoted these measures and encouraged our partners in the cultural sectors to tap into the possibilities these actions provide.

Let me highlight some examples of our recent initiatives to help the cultural sector and music in particular. First, we provided maximum flexibility to the beneficiaries of Creative Europe, the EU funding programme for the cultural and creative sectors, and allowed them to adjust their projects to the new realities.

We also accelerated the selection process for this year’s Creative Europe co-operation projects. This means in practical terms that €48.5 million is going directly to both small and large cultural projects that need our support the most in the middle of the pandemic.

In May, we launched the Creatives Unite platform to offer a common space for all cultural and creative sectors in Europe and beyond to share their initiatives in response to the crisis. Six months later, it has demonstrated great results, with over 26,000 visitors and 600 published posts. This illustrates the cultural and creative sectors’ tremendous capacity to work together.

Second, we came up with quick responses to address the challenges faced by the music sector under our Music Moves Europe initiative. A €2.5m call for proposals, which closed in November, will help support the sector’s recovery and sustainability post crisis.

Environmental, economic and social sustainability of the European music ecosystem is more topical than ever before

Environmental, economic and social sustainability of the European music ecosystem is indeed more topical than ever before. We can expect that the post-crisis revival will bring and require structural changes in the way the music ecosystem is operating, and we will be there to support the green, digital, just and social recovery of the sector.

We also launched a call for tenders to support European music export, taking into account the specific circumstances of the crisis. The call builds on the study prepared by the European Music Export Exchange with our financial support. Here, again, I would like to congratulate the music sector, which has been, from the very beginning, part of the solution, with the Music Declares Emergency initiative using the power of music to promote the cultural change needed to create a better future.

Music Moves Europe is also about music information and data. We have just published two studies on the feasibility of establishing a European music observatory, and an in-depth analysis of the European music market. We also launched four calls this year to support professionalisation, music education, co-operation of small music clubs, and co-creation and co-production schemes.

The selected projects can start early next year. In difficult times, these small amounts can make a great difference and can help clubs, creators, and performers resume their activities and survive the crisis.

Finally, let me stress the importance of the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards co-funded by our Creative Europe programme. This EU prize for popular and contemporary music puts a spotlight on young exciting talent and displays Europe’s vibrant and diverse music scene. It is even more important this year to help these young musicians find an audience. The winners of the 2021 edition will be announced on 15 January 2021 at Eurosonic.

Music is our universal language. It holds a unique, creative, and cohesive power, for societies and for individuals

With Music Moves Europe, we will continue our support to the music sector, especially with targeted funding through the Creative Europe programme. I am very proud that we achieved a significant increase in the budget for the next seven years, this will allow us to continue our support to culture, including music, in the future.

Looking forward, beyond Creative Europe, the music sector will also benefit from further support through other instruments. For instance, via Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation framework programme, which will have, for the first time, a dedicated cluster on culture, creativity and society, as well as a new Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) on cultural and creative sectors and industries to drive innovation and support recovery in these industries.

Erasmus+ is another example. Recently we launched a Special Call worth €100m for Partnerships for Creativity, which focus on formal, informal and non-formal educational skills development and inclusion through creativity and the arts. My aim therefore will be to work on synergies among all these different instruments.

Music is our universal language. It holds a unique, creative, and cohesive power, for societies and for individuals. It is a vital part of our cultural heritage, and contributes to our European identity. For all the reasons we will continue to support the sector, and the people behind it. I look forward to working and strengthening our dialogue with the music sector.


Mariya Gabriel is the European commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth.

Italy’s live music association appeals to EU for aid

Italy’s live music association, Assocmusica, is urging the European Commission to allocate financial aid to the creative industries via national budgets and EU funds.

Assocmusica, along with European Live Music Association (ELMC), directly addressed the European parliament directly last week to ask for support with Europe’s cultural recovery.

Members of the European parliament have also expressed strong concern the EU’s Next Generation Recovery Plan does not specify a budget for the direct benefit of the cultural and creative sectors.

The associations are now asking the European Commission and the EU countries to allocate at least 2% of the mechanism for recovery and resilience stated in the Recovery Plan in support of the cultural and creative.

“In such a critical moment, both for the future of the EU and for our sector, it is necessary to intervene to safeguard its survival”

“The digital revolution, and the chapter of investments in environmental sustainability, hypothesised in the Recovery Fund are issues we would like to discuss with the government and we hope to be heard in the appropriate forums,” says president of Assomusica, Vincenzo Spera.

“In these difficult times, many have turned to culture, music and art to overcome moments of discouragement and loneliness. In such a critical moment, both for the future of the EU and for our sector, it is necessary to intervene to safeguard its survival.”

“For these reasons, I would like to make a further, urgent appeal to our institutional representatives to work on creating an adequate financial ‘framework’ to support a key sector for the growth and cultural diversity of our continent.”

The associations have laid out a number of proposals for EU ministers to consider, including an increase in the budget for the Creative Europe Programme in the next Multiannual Financial Framework, which is renewed next year, to €2.8 billion and the introduction of the 4% reduced VAT on tickets for live performances.

An emergency fund for live entertainment workers, powered by European resources, and precise financial plans to ensure operational continuity in the industries and cultural and creative sectors and to ensure predictability for their operators, has also been called for.


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EU: Festivals, concerts to be last to reopen

The European Commission has published a set of guidelines on how member states should start to emerge from lockdown, indicating that mass gatherings such as festivals and concerts may be the last kind of social activity to restart.

In the document, entitled ‘Joint European Roadmap towards lifting Covid-19 containment measures’, the commission suggests a “progressive” reinstatement of gatherings of people.

The sequencing proposed in the document, starting with the reopening of educational institutes, followed by retail activity, the return of restaurants, cafes and bars and then of mass gatherings, is in accordance with exit plans laid out by governments in Germany, Austria, Denmark, France, Belgium and Luxembourg, where large events will recommence after the reopening of some other parts of society.

The commission stresses the need for a gradual lifting of measures, saying that sufficient time should be left between each step, offering one month as an example period.

The document also outlines a “phased approach” for the opening of both internal and external borders, with restrictions on travel between areas with “comparably low reported circulation of the virus” easing first, leading to the eventual restoration of “the normal functioning of the Schengen area”.

“Successfully coordinating the lifting of containment measures at EU level will also positively impact the EU’s recovery”

“The gradual reopening of borders should give priority to cross-border and seasonal workers and should avoid any discrimination against EU mobile workers,” reads the report. “In the transition phase, the efforts to maintain an unobstructed flow of goods and to secure supply chains should be reinforced.”

Access of non-EU residents to the EU will be granted in a “second stage”, taking into account the spread of the virus.

The EU commission states its intention to ensure more coordination between its member states. Members of the live industry, including Dutch agency collective United Independent Music Agencies, have criticised the lack of collaboration at EU level.

“In order to streamline coordination efforts, the Commission will be ready to develop further guidance, when necessary or requested, in order to ensure a gradual transition from general confinement,” the report concludes. “The more such transition is coordinated at EU level, the more negative spill-overs between Member States will be avoided and the implementation of measures across different Member States will be mutually reinforcing.

“Successfully coordinating the lifting of containment measures at EU level will also positively impact the EU’s recovery.”

Photo: Thijs ter Haar/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)


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Industry orgs: Bring back EU culture commissioner title

A collection of music industry associations have shown their support for the Bring Back Culture campaign, following the absence of the term ‘culture’ from the title of EU commissioner, Mariya Gabriel.

On 10 September, president-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, presented the commission’s new structure, with eight vice presidents standing for updated work priorities. Culture falls under the gambit of Commissioner Gabriel, but is absent from her title of ‘Innovation and Youth’.

Von der Leyen takes over from Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission on 1 November, 2019.

Culture Action Europe (CAE), a network of cultural organisations, penned an open letter to the president of the European Commission asking for the insertion of the term ‘culture’ into the title. The letter was signed by bodies including the British Council, the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance, the European Choral Association, the European Concert Hall Organisation and Opera Europa,

The signatories are concerned that culture will not “remain at the appropriate level of recognition” due to the title change.

“We call upon the president of the European Commission to reinforce the role of culture by spelling out ‘culture’ in the title of the commissioner”

European live industry body Pearle*, the European Music Council (EMC) and venue network Live DMA are among live music-related organisations to lend their support to the CAE campaign.

“Pearle* looks forward to discussing Commissioner-designate Mariya Gabriel’s priorities on culture and the new Creative Europe programme,” reads a statement from the organisation. “However, we regret that culture is not literally mentioned in her portfolio’s title.

“This sets an unwelcome precedent since culture has been included in the European Treaty in 1991.”

The EMC and Live DMA similarly express concerns, saying “we call upon the president of the European Commission to reinforce the role of culture for the development of the European Union by spelling out ‘culture’ in the title of the commissioner.”

All three organisations had previously urged politicians to put live music at the core of EU policy, prior to the European Parliament elections in May.

The CAE online petition had received 1,885 signatures at press time.


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EU songwriters unite against Greek govt-ran PRO

The European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA) has appealed to the European Commission to take action against the Greek government’s takeover of the national rights collection system.

ECSA submitted its complaint to the European Commission’s competition directorate general stating that creator colleagues in Greece are “being prevented from accessing performance income from their music”. The complaint is supported by the International Council of Creators of Music (CIAM).

In May 2018, Greek performance rights organisation, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AEPI), had its license revoked following a scandal involving unpaid royalties of €42 million and financial mismanagement by board members.

Rival, independent collection rights society Autodia attempted to fill the position in the wake of AEPI’s demise. However, the government took over the management of music rights, creating a new division of the Hellenic Copyright Organisation (HCO).

The government-run division falls within the collection society’s supervisory body itself, meaning that the organisation lacks any proper third-party regulation.

“Every music creator should affiliate with the collective management organisation of their choice”

ECSA complains that, under the current system, music creators are unable to join a collection society of their own choice. The organisation also claims the government’s “unlawful intervention in the marketplace” is preventing funds from reaching composers and songwriters worldwide.

In addition, the songwriter alliance claims the HCO unlawfully used over €2m in state funds to benefit the new division, violating EU state enterprise funding law.

“The current difficulties in Greece affect first and foremost Greek music authors but also all music creators,” says ECSA president, Alfons Karabuda.

“Europe’s music creators are the bedrock of a vital, diverse and important economic and cultural sector. They deserve an efficient management of their works and the protections of the law just as Greek taxpayers deserve to be confident their tax revenues are being applied in a sound, legitimate and transparent manner,” states Karabunda.

CIAM president Eddie Schwartz comments: “As creators we stand with our colleagues to ensure that going forward, creators have a sound and lawful administrative system in Greece on which they can rely for their livelihoods.

“Every music creator should affiliate with the collective management organisation (CMO) of their choice,” adds Schwartz. “No CMO should ever be prevented from responding to the needs of the creators they exist to protect. This is why we are objecting to the situation in Greece.”


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