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Eventim’s TicketOne fined for anti-competitive behaviour

TicketOne, the market-leading primary ticket agency in Italy, has been fined €10 million by the Italian Competition Authority for alleged abuses of its dominant market position.

The latest judgment follows an investigation by the authority into TicketOne’s parent company, CTS Eventim, that first became public in 2019, when a handful of Italian promoters, led by Zed Entertainment’s Valeria Arzenton, alleged unfair competition on the part of Eventim-owned Friends and Partners (F&P).



Arzenton accused CTS Eventim/F&P of trying to strong-arm promoters and artists into ticketing contracts with TicketOne at the expense of non-Eventim operators – a claim strenuously denied by CTS Eventim, TicketOne, F&P and sister companies D’Alessandro e Galli, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti.

Competitors accuse Italian promoters of foul play (updated)

The verdict of the Competition Authority (known as the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, or AGCM, in Italian), published today (19 January), appear to back up Arzenton’s claims, finding that the ‘CTS Eventim-TicketOne group’ has created a “complex, abusive strategy” which prevents competing ticket sellers from obtaining a “particularly high proportion” (“quota particolarmente elevata”) of tickets for live music events.

In doing so, the group violated EU competition law, in particular Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, according to AGCM.

The authority further found that Eventim particularly sought to exclude TicketOne rival Ticketmaster, a relatively new entrant in Italy (and a non-exclusive ticketing partner of Arzenton’s Zed Entertainment), from the “relevant market”.

By preventing other ticket sellers from obtaining significant ticket inventory for shows organised by F&P, D’Alessandro e Galli, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti, all of which it acquired in a less than eight-month period in 2017–18, Eventim additionally caused harm to consumers, says AGCM, by limiting the choice of tickets available and allowing TicketOne to charge higher prices.

“CTS Eventim … are very confident that this illegal decision will also be overturned by the court”

In addition to the €10m fine, the authority has ordered CTS Eventim to grant TicketOne’s competitors a share of at least 20% of the tickets available for popular music shows organised by owned companies.

Arzenton welcomes the ruling as confirmation that “everything I was complaining about as true, in relation to the pressures and boycotts suffered” by Zed. “But now is the time to look ahead and work all together, as operators in this sector, to face the difficulties caused by this terrible pandemic,” she adds, “and be ready to start again in the name of culture and entertainment.”

In a statement provided to IQ, a CTS Eventim spokesperson refutes the ACGM ruling as being based on flawed data and says the company plans to appeal the verdict.

“TicketOne and CTS Eventim firmly reject AGCM’s claims that the group allegedly abused a dominant position,” they say. “On the basis of incorrect market definitions and in violation of essential procedural rules, the authority made a decision that should never have been made.

“Accordingly, TicketOne and CTS Eventim will appeal to the competent administrative court and are very confident, also with a view to the previous case law on decisions of the AGCM, that this illegal decision will also be overturned by the court.”

AGCM has previously been forced to return money to TicketOne, having refunded the company €1m after a court found it was wrong to claim TicketOne had facilitated unlawful ticket resale.

 


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Elisa raises €230k for crew from Italian tour

Italian artist Elisa has raised €230,000 from an eight-date tour of her home country, organised in support of her band and crew.

The run kicked off in September and comprised eight dates in Italian squares ranging from 957–1,988 capacities, including Lords Square, Vicenza; Trento Square and Trieste, Ferrara; and Castello Square, Fossano.

The tour sold a total of 11,565 tickets (€34.50–€69) and, after production costs, raised €190,000 to be distributed among Elisa’s band and crew and €40,000 for a fund to help other crew.

Elisa, her management and her Italian agency, Friends and Partners, decided to forego their fees in order to pay crew and musicians double pay.

“My crew and band are the people who are in more trouble, financially, and I think it’s totally unfair – it’s just by chance that they were hit more than me,” says Elisa. “Some of my crew, technicians and musicians have been with me since I started my band around 23 years ago – they’re like my family and they would have been in trouble if I hadn’t made this decision. This is the time we have to do something and not wait for anybody else to do it.”

“This is the time we have to do something and not wait for anybody else to do it”

Elisa’s production manager Giulio Koelliker says: “I have been working with Elisa for 19 years and during this time we put together this team of amazing professionals who also became our family. This tour has been one of the most emotional tours –because of the exceptional circumstances due to Covid – but also because Elisa’s generosity towards her crew reached a new high.

“She really showed us to be the great artist she is and what a great human being she is. She gave us back what we missed the most in all those terrible months: the joy of working! We felt passion again and dedication for our job and we were all truly moved to be part of this great adventure.”

Ferdinando Salzano, CEO of Friends and Partners, Elisa’s Italian agency says: “We have participated in Elisa’s idea with enthusiasm. The importance of trying to keep the whole supply chain of music alive is fundamental to be able to perform concerts again in a normal way.”

Elisa is one of many artists that have rallied support for live events technicians who have been financially impacted the pandemic but largely left out of government support schemes.

Nick Cave, Niall Horan, Amy MacDonald and Marillion have also joined the call-to-arms for crew support – a cause which has inspired numerous campaigns and protests around the world.

 


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Italian promoters unite for charity music event

Live Nation Italy, Vivo Concerti and Friends and Partners have teamed up to organise a week of music events at the 15,000-capacity Verona Arena in support of the country’s live music industry.

From Verona We Turn On the Music (Da Verona accendiamo la musica), launched by Italian social enterprise Music Innovation Hub and produced in collaboration with Verona Arena, Gianmarco Mazzi, R&P Legal, Librerie Feltrinelli, Vertigo and Magellano, will involve the work of over 70 artist and 350 musicians and technicians.

Kicking off on 2 September with the Music Awards, the event will wrap up on 6 September with Heroes – The Future Begins Now (Il futuro inizia adesso), a five-hour concert that will be streamed live from the open-air arena.

During the week, Italian music business professionals will lead workshops and talks from the arena.

Live Nation Italy, Vivo Concerti and Friends&Partners have teamed up to organise a week of music events at the 15,000-capacity Verona Arena in support of the country’s live music industry

Tickets for the concert cost €9.90 with all proceeds from the week going to the Music Innovation Hub’s Let’s Support Music fund to support those working in Italy’s live industry. Frontline health workers will be invited to stream the event free of charge.

There is currently a capacity limit in place in Italy of 1,000 people for outdoor events and 200 for indoor shows.

Italian promoter Barley Arts has produced a set of guidelines, detailing the ways in which outdoor events may reopen for larger audiences and laying out a series of different scenarios for event organisers to utilise spaces including car parks, courtyards and public squares.

The 65-page document includes advice on ticketing, which is to be done digitally and in advance; venue entry, where sanitisation and health checks will take place; seating plans, with alternate rows and seats used where possible; audience movement, which is to be regulated by the creation of specific routes to and from seats and other facilities; artists, who should be tested 48 hours before a show and remain six metres away from the audience; and crew, who should work in pre-defined ‘bubbles’ and wear suitable protective equipment.

Photo: Claconvr/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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Major moves: consolidation sweeps the ticketing sector

The past 12 months have seen big-money deals by global firms who have been expanding their reach through buying up existing companies.

Eventim’s major expansion into the €800 million French live music market will see it establish a joint venture with the retailer by the end of 2019. Under the proposed new structure, Eventim would acquire 48% of France Billet, with an option to increase its holding to a majority stake over the next four years. It is folding its Eventim French business into the partnership, and the established brands – which in addition to Francebillet.com include Fnacspectacles.com and Billetreduc.com – will remain in operation.

This move will be a blow for Paris-headquartered multimedia conglomeration Vivendi, which owns the local company Digitick and was the third-largest competitor behind France Billet and Ticketmaster.

Leapfrogging its rivals, Eventim has secured the top position in the ticketing space. However, it currently does not have a promoter presence in France, unlike Live Nation or Vivendi, the latter of which owns the venues L’Olympia (1,996-cap.) and Theâtre de L’Œuvre (326-cap.) in Paris, as well as Olympia Production, the operator of a number of French festivals including Les Déferlantes (12,000-cap.) and Garorock (45,000-cap.).

In 2017-18, Eventim bought three significant promoters in Italy – Vertigo, Friends and Partners, and D’Alessandro e Galli (Di and Gi) – solidifying its brand TicketOne as the dominant ticketer in the country after Ticketmaster opened operations there in 2017.

On the other side of the world, Live Nation Entertainment’s (LNE) $480m decision to buy a 51% stake in Ocesa Entertainment, the largest promoter in Latin America, and owner of Ticketmaster Mexico, is noteworthy.

Promoting about 3,100 shows a year, Ocesa reportedly sold 3.8m tickets in 2018. Ticketmaster Mexico is comfortably the country’s biggest ticket seller, with around 37m tickets sold each year.

While LNE and Ocesa have had a long partnership, this move significantly enhances the global entertainment company’s footprint

While LNE and Ocesa have had a long partnership through touring, festivals and the Ticketmaster brand, this move significantly enhances the global entertainment company’s footprint.

It demonstrates LNE’s growing confidence in the Latin American market and will likely lead to an increasing number of tours by international talent to the continent, and potentially further acquisitions of promoters, ticketing companies or venues.

What impact it will have on Ticketmaster in the US, where the second language is Spanish, remains to be seen. The Spanish- language market in the US is arguably currently underserved, and this could be seen as an internal growth opportunity for the global behemoth.

But more importantly, this could be part of a wider move by LNE into Latin America, where the firm historically has no major presence. Last year it acquired one of Argentina’s top promoters, DF Entertainment, while earlier in 2018, it took a stake in one of the largest music festivals in the world, Rock in Rio (100,000-cap), recently increasing its holding to 60%, which could be a sign that Ticketmaster is preparing to make a move into Brazil. Does this indicate a strategy of expansion across the region? We’ll have to wait and see.

LNE-owned Ticketmaster also bought Australia and New Zealand’s most significant independent ticketing company, Moshtix, in February, further expanding its presence in a market where it competes fiercely with TEG’s Ticketek.

Although it’s not likely to shift the balance of power, Ticketmaster’s move will add another indie brand to its suite of ticketing platforms.

Meanwhile, TEG grew its Asian reach by buying the Philippines-based ticketing company TicketWorld. This adds to its existing interests in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Macau. As well as major international tours by the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Katy Perry, TicketWorld has a strong presence in the local theatre market, and provides ticket services to Philippines’ venues including Solaire Resort and Casino, Resorts World Manila, BGC Arts Center and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

What we can say is that the last 12 months have seen no sign of the trend for consolidation slowing down – and it may just be hotting up even further

“We see great opportunities in many Asian markets and our strategy puts us on course to becoming a truly pan-Asian promoter,” said TEG CEO Geoff Jones at the time.

While not strictly new acquisitions, DEAG continued its policy of wholly owning companies by completing the purchase of the MyTicket platform, which going forward will be powered by the Secutix SaaS solution, while Eventim completed its takeover of German online movie ticketing platform Kinoheld and Scandinavian ticketing solution Venuepoint.

So what’s next? In the fast-moving world of ticketing, it’s hard to say.

India’s BookMyShow sells some 20m tickets a month, mainly in the cinema sector, but is looking to grow further into live entertainment. In 2018, COO of non-films at BookMyShow Albert Almeida told the Economic Times the firm wants to increase its revenues from non-cinema events from 30% to 50% by 2020.

It is one of the ticketing partners at the newly opened Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai and is addressing a lack of infrastructure in its home country by building its touring venues and producing its own shows. At a recent fundraising round, the company was valued at $1 billion, and there is still huge potential in the country of 1.3bn people. But maybe it will look to acquire in new markets, or further consolidate its position in the Middle East.

Another interesting area is the growing trend of Chinese companies taking an interest in Western music companies (for example, Tencent acquired a 10% stake in Universal Music, with an option to take another 10% in a year). Could we see a Chinese firm take an interest in a ticketing company outside of its homeland?

What we can say is that the last 12 months have seen no sign of the trend for consolidation slowing down – and it may just be hotting up even further.

For more insight into the state of the global ticketing industry, read IQ’s International Ticketing Yearbook 2019.


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Competitors accuse Italian promoters of foul play (updated)

Update (20 May): Arzenton and Zed have responded to Friday’s story, telling IQ the company will be only too “pleased to show the Italian public prosecutor” all documents relating to the allegations against F&P and TicketOne. Zed Entertainment’s full statement is below.

Having learnt only from TicketOne, Di and Gi, Friends & Partners, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti’s joint press release issued on May 15 that CTS Eventim and its partners have brought action against Dr Valeria Arzenton, it is fitting to highlight that Dr Valeria Arzenton will be pleased to show the Italian public prosecutor all the documents her statements to the Italian press are based on.

These documents are evidence of the serious and dangerous happenings denounced by Dr. Arzenton and others to the press.

As you can infer from the AGCOM document n. 12/2019, available here since March 25 2019, the prosecuting companies’ behaviour and management are still being looked into by the Italian Competition Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato) as part of the abuse of dominant position investigation opened by the authority itself against CTS Eventim and its partners.

Dr Valeria Arzenton and Zed will firmly continue to go public and denounce all the behaviours damaging their reputation and companies, free competition and market and the audiences.

 


CTS Eventim-controlled promoters Friends and Partners (F&P), Vivo Concerti, Vertigo and Di and Gi, and ticketing company TicketOne, are taking legal action following claims by competitors that F&P chief executive Fernandino Salzano traded unfairly, made public in a series of reports by TV channel Striscia la Notizia.

The action comes after an investigation by Italian antitrust authority AGCM into alleged abuse of market position by the Eventim companies. The regulator’s precautionary phase resulted in a positive outcome for the companies.

F&P and the other Eventim companies under investigation have refuted all claims made by rivals and have now announced they are taking immediate legal action.

In the first of a series of televised reports, Zed Entertainment co-founder Valeria Arzenton anonymously claimed that Friends & Partners had hijacked a co-promotion of singer Alessandra Amoroso between the two companies. Zed alleges F&P advertised tickets to the show – exclusively through TicketOne – without their consent, and withheld outstanding monies owed as bargaining chips “to negotiate future conditions”.

“There are many Italian colleagues who are in the same situation and who are afraid to speak out

A second report featured concert promoter Roberto Iacobino, who previously worked with Salzano. “Only in Italy is there a company like F&P that does exactly what it wants,” he said, querying why authorities had not investigated market abuses by both F&P and TicketOne.

In a follow up interview with Striscia la Notizia, Arzenton – having revealed her identity – spoke of a “violent” response by Friends & Partners. “We are experiencing a total embargo,” she told reporter Max Laudadio. The day after the initial broadcast, all F&P dates in Zed venues were cancelled.

“I think it’s a violent show of force, but it won’t stop me,” says Arzenton. “There are many Italian colleagues who are in the same situation and who are afraid to speak out.”

F&P, TicketOne, D’Alessandro e Galli, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti say the news reports provide “an incorrect, misleading and defamatory version of the commercial activities carried out by TicketOne and by promoters Friends & Partners, Vivo Concerti, Vertigo, Di & Gi.”

“What is stated in the report provides an incorrect, misleading and defamatory version of commercial activities”

The companies state that the AGCM investigation has been initiated by “two operators in the sector with the aim of obtaining undue competitive advantages to the detriment of TicketOne and the Promoter mentioned above [F&P]”.

The four promoters also stress that, while forming part of the same group, each operates independently of the other.

The companies say that the “harmful, deeply misrepresented and distorted statements” have forced them “to act in penal proceeding against Mrs Arzenton”.

Eventim acquired a 60% stake in Friends and Partners in 2017, and has majority stakes in fellow Italian promoters Vertigo, D’Alessandro e Galli and Vivo Concerti. The German live entertainment giant also controls the market leading ticketing company TicketOne.

This is the second time in as many years that reports by Italian news outlets have resulted in an investigation into major live industry players. A 2017 television interview with Live Nation Italy president Roberto De Luca led to a two-year investigation into promoters conspiring with Viagogo. The executives were later acquitted of all charges.

 


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CTS acquires majority stake in Friends and Partners

CTS Eventim is to acquire a 60% stake in Ferdinando Salzano’s Friends and Partners, further strengthening its position in the Italian market.

The German live entertainment giant has had a presence in Italy since 2007, when it bought a share of ticketing market leader TicketOne, and in September acquired Italian promoter Vertigo.

Friends and Partners, formed in 2001 as F&P Group, represents more than 40 Italian artists, organising tours by stars including Il Volo, Claudio Baglioni, Ligabue, Nek and Laura Pausini, formerly in partnership with Warner Music. The company also produces concert films and music TV formats for all major Italian TV stations.

By joining CTS Eventim, Friends and Partners will be able to take advantage of Eventim’s global reach, says CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg.

“There are many artists that have long been addressing an international audience and who plan their live performances without paying heed to national borders,” comments Schulenberg. “Our aim is to offer them Europe-wide touring opportunities and efficient ticketing services under the CTS Eventim umbrella. For that reason, we are constantly reviewing options for expanding our portfolio.

“I am looking forward to the various opportunities the partnership with a global player like CTS Eventim will provide us”

“I am delighted that with this transaction we further strengthen our market position in Italy.”

Friends and Partners founder Salzano, who will continue to manage the company from its offices in Milan, adds: “I am looking forward very much to the various opportunities that the partnership with a global player like CTS Eventim will provide us and I thank Klaus-Peter Schulenberg and his team for the confidence they place in us. Our joint aim is to project the Friends & Partners success story into the future.

“At the same time, my colleagues and I will remain true to our mission, which is to offer artists, managers and producers a home that helps them realise their creative ambitions. I also extend my thanks at this point to my companions at Warner Music, who have passionately supported and advised my team and myself for almost a decade. I am certain that our paths will cross on various projects in the future.”

 


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