Majority of fans ready to return to gigs soon
Gigantic found that of the 8,000 people who responded to its consumer survey, 65% will be ready to return to live gigs within two months of venues reopening and 35% straight away.
Fourteen per cent say they’d return within a month and a further 16% will take four to eight weeks to return to gigs. The remaining number would wait between three to six months before returning. Only two respondents said they would not return to a live event again.
Though the majority of respondents say they’re eager to return to gigs, similar enthusiasm was shown for hygiene measures to be put in place. Over 80% of people say they would want to see hand sanitising points throughout the venue, 68% would like to see reduced capacities, and 39% would like to see masks mandatory for those attending. Half of those surveyed would like to see social distancing relaxed inside venues as long as relevant steps are in place to protect them.
The survey also found that 41% of our gig-goers would be happy to watch exclusive live-streamed events in the absence of live music.
However, Identity’s industry survey found that an overwhelming majority, (84%) disagreed with the statement “I will only attend virtual events from now on” and a similar number agreed that all events in the future should have both a virtual and live offering.
“People miss meeting up and no amount of creativity can replace that”
The survey, which was conducted in the last week of July and spanned respondents from several industry sectors with 25% from entertainment and leisure, found almost 80% of those surveyed are keen to attend live events in person within the next 12 months.
However, nearly half (47%) said these events would be within their own country of residence only. Just a third of respondents said they would willingly travel internationally to attend a live event within the next 12 months.
When asked to consider what measures they expect to be operational should live events return, almost three quarters said they would expect social distancing measures to be in place, while two-thirds of respondents consider wearing face coverings at live events a necessity, but only 10% consider it a necessity to hold live events outdoors. Four-fifths of respondents expect live events to have a cap on the number of attendees.
Charlie Hepburn, client strategy director of Identity Group says: “This points to the ultimate importance being placed on advance communication, keeping attendees well informed and ensuring they are aware of the expectations and restrictions in place before committing to attend the event. Interestingly, the idea of hosting events indoors, as opposed to outdoors, does not seem to provoke any reluctance to attend.”
Looking to the future of live events, the survey found that 80% of people feel live streaming cannot replace the real thing but almost the same amount of respondents (79%) said that brands need to offer both live and virtual attendance options for all events.
Almost 80% said they would expect to pay less to attend a virtual delivery of a live event and only 8% said they “expect to pay the same to attend the virtual delivery of a live event”.
“It appears that people really do miss live events,” says Hepburn. “The reality is people miss meeting up and no amount of creativity can replace that.”
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
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DEAG appoints Schwenkow chief ticketing officer
Moritz Schwenkow, CEO of MyTicket, has been appointed chief ticketing officer (CTO) of Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG).
As CTO, Schwenkow, 38, will be responsible for DEAG’s entire ticketing business, including MyTicket in Germany, Austria and the UK, and the UK’s Gigantic, acquired in December 2019. He is tasked with “develop[ing] synergies” between the four, as well as spearheading further expansion into other European countries.
Schwenkow (pictured), son of DEAG CEO Peter, moves into his new role on 1 April 2020, following more than 15 years working in live entertainment. He is also appointed a member of DEAG’s executive board.
DEAG currently sells more than five millions tickets annually, and aims to at least double that figure in the years to come, according to the Berlin-based company.
“With Moritz’s expertise and market knowledge, he will continue to drive the successful expansion of our ticketing business”
“I am very much looking forward to working together with my colleagues on the board,” comments Moritz Schwenkow. “The DEAG group is already excellently positioned internationally in the area of ticketing through MyTicket and Gigantic.
“On this strong basis and as a result of increasing digitalisation, we want to continue to grow, provide impulses for other business areas and further expand our earnings power in the years to come.”
Wolf-Dieter Gramatke, chairman of DEAG’s board, adds: “Moritz Schwenkow has extensive knowhow in the live entertainment industry. With his expertise and market knowledge, he will continue to drive our successful expansion of the ticketing business and further strengthen our position in the market.”
DEAG reported its 2019 financial results earlier this week.
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Bristol Ticket Shop closing after 30 years
Independent UK-based ticketing company Bristol Ticket Shop has announced it is closing down, citing overdue payments from a debtor.
Launched in 1987 as a concession in Virgin shops and then in record retailer Our Price, Bristol Ticket Shop later found its own home in the centre of the UK city of Bristol. With a focus on supporting the local music scene, Bristol Ticket Shop also sold tickets to events such as Glastonbury Festival and Download Festival.
“After more than 30 years being part of Bristol’s incredible music scene, Bristol Ticket Shop is sadly closing,” reads a post on the ticketer’s Facebook page.
“All the staff here are devastated. The list of incredible events we have supplied tickets for is overwhelming. There are so many regular customers, old and new, that we have really enjoyed talking to over the years and we will miss you all dearly.”
“After more than 30 years being part of Bristol’s incredible music scene, Bristol Ticket Shop is sadly closing”
The management team owes the closure to “news that a debtor owing a large amount of money was unlikely to be able pay in a timely manner”, as well as to the illness of the company’s owner, which has “had a large impact on the resilience of the business”.
The company states it is instructing a third party to negotiate with promoters in order to ensure that “there is as little impact to the customer as possible”. Although the ticketer aims “to honour tickets for future events”, it notes this may not always be possible, in which case refunds will be issued.
Bristol music fans have responded to the “sad news”, showing support for the ticketer, which formed a “huge part” of the local live scene.
According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, the primary ticketing business in the UK is “incredibly competitive”, with major international companies including Ticketmaster, See Tickets, AXS, Eventim and Eventim taking a large share of the market.
Many local independent outfits, such as Manchester’s Ticketline, Birmingham’s the Ticket Factory, Leeds’ Ticket Arena and Nottingham’s Gigantic – now majority owned by DEAG – also perform well.
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DEAG acquires majority stake in UK’s Gigantic Tickets
German live entertainment group DEAG is to acquire a 75% stake in Nottingham-based ticket agency Gigantic, significantly bolstering its UK ticketing business.
Founded in 2007, Gigantic is one of the UK’s largest independent ticket sellers, with some two million registered customers and annual sales of more than a million tickets (via Gigantic.com).
The acquisition – via DEAG’s MyTicket UK (MyTicket Services Ltd) subsidiary – will create synergies between MyTicket.co.uk and MyTicket platforms in Germany and Austria, including expanding the number of non-DEAG-promoted events for which the Berlin-based company sells tickets, according to a DEAG statement.
Gigantic founders Mark Gasson and James Woodward remain shareholders and will continue to manage the company on a long-term basis.
DEAG (Deutsche Entertainment AG) says it expects the number of tickets sold via MyTicket.de, MyTicket.at and MyTicket.co.uk to increase organically to over 1.1 million in the 2019 financial year, with that number growing to 2m+ following the acquisition of Gigantic.
“MyTicket will become DEAG’s fastest-growing business segment and an important earnings driver in 2020”
“MyTicket will thus become DEAG’s fastest-growing business segment and an important earnings driver in 2020,” says the company.
“We are extremely proud that we have established and maintained consistent growth for Gigantic in a competitive marketplace. We now look forward to continuing this growth alongside the committed team at MyTicket,” say Gasson and Woodward in a joint statement.
A MyTicket spokesperson adds: “MyTicket is delighted to be working with Mark and James, who have built a company with a reputation for providing reliable, customer-focused and honest ticketing. Gigantic will remain an independent company and will continue to do great work for promoters, festivals and customers throughout the UK.”
DEAG is the majority owner of leading UK promoter Kilimanjaro Live. Recent acquisitions in the UK, DEAG’s second-largest market, include theatrical producer Flying Music Group, which it bought in late 2017, and Scotland’s Belladrum, which it acquired via Kilimanjaro the following year.
Survey: weekend camping festivals remain on top
A survey carried out by UK ticketing agency Gigantic has found that traditional greenfield camping festivals are still the most popular among fans, despite the emergence of many new kinds of festival experiences.
Out of the 3,020 respondents to the Gigantic Festival Survey, seven out of ten favoured weekend festivals over day events.
Almost two thirds (61%) said they preferred traditional field-based events, with 27% choosing city festivals over all else. Only 7% opted for seaside festivals and a mere 3% said festivals overseas were their top choice.
Regular camping was shown to be more popular than glamping, with 34% preferring regular campsites compared to 11% going for the luxury option or a campervan. A number of respondents preferred staying offsite, either at home (22%) or in a hotel (18%).
Comfort appeared to be creeping up on festivalgoers’ agendas. Nearly half (48%) of respondents said they would pay extra for showers, 34% for phone charging, 24% for a VIP bar, 22% for pre-erected tents and 18% for VIP standing/gold circle.
For just over half of respondents, medium- and small-sized festivals – from 5,000 to 20,000 capacity – are best. Small festivals (5,000 to 12,500) were preferred by 26%, whereas medium festivals, from 12,500 to 20,000, were chosen by 27%.
“People are seeing a big festival a year as a summer holiday with their friends”
The ethics of a festival were deemed “quite important” by 71% of respondents and “really important” for 15%, perhaps reflecting the push for festivals to become more eco-friendly and to present more gender-balanced line-ups in recent years.
In terms of acts, the Killers, Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, Oasis, Pink and Kasabian were among the most common choices for desired festival performances in 2020.
“People are seeing a big festival a year as a summer holiday with their friends,” says a spokesperson for the ticketing agency. “This idea of it being more of a holiday is accompanied by the fact that 35% of those surveyed said they would pay for early access, extending that holiday for as long as possible.”
Reporting a record year last year, Gigantic works with promoters including Live Nation, DHP Family and AEG Live; festivals such as Reading and Leeds, Tramlines and Download; and UK venues O2 Academy Brixton, Wembley Stadium and the Royal Albert Hall, among others.
According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, Gigantic is one of the largest independent ticketing agencies in the UK and has sold over two million tickets. The company is currently preparing to launch its own fan-to-fan resale platform.
The innovators: 2019’s ticketing pioneers
Technology and ticketing go hand-in-hand and, in recent years, an increasing number of companies have developed innovative solutions to make the ticketing sector more secure and sophisticated for event organisers, venue operators and fans alike.
As part of the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019 (ITY), IQ talks to ticketing companies Oxynade, Tixserve, Protect Group, Activity Stream, Queue-it, Ticketline, Ticketplan, Gigantic, the Ticket Factory, Ticketmaster, Tickets.ie and FanDragon Technologies to gain a deeper insight into the most significant technological advances affecting the industry today.
The white-label ticketing partner offers an all-round system that includes a fully equipped back office, box office and specialised features covering a broad range of verticals, meaning ticketing companies don’t need to take on the cost and resources of setting up their own platform. The company’s eTicketing as a service (eTaaS) solution launched in 2017 and already has a global clientele.
Recently the Belgium-based company has invested heavily in improving its offer from an UI and UX perspective, with clear flows for ticket-buyers. It has also updated its API integration to enable clients to use their own Payment Service Provider (PSP). This means people can not only pay using their preferred PSP, but ticketers can offer bundles such as merch, food coupons or travel services, which can drive up revenues. Furthermore, the upgraded API offers ticket-buyers the opportunity to complete purchases using other forms of payment, such as gift vouchers, pre-charged cards or even ‘event currency’.
In September 2018, the firm launched its inaugural eTaaS Summit in Germany, which drew almost 50 delegates from 14 countries for networking and insightful panels. The event will take place again in April 2020, with a new approach. “We want to go really in-depth,” says company spokesperson Hannah Coekaerts. “We’re inviting international clients and top-notch speakers.”
The Belgium-based company has invested heavily in improving its offer from an UI and UX perspective, with clear flows for ticket-buyers
The B2B, Software-as-a-Service, white-label, ticket fulfilment company enables its clients to deliver secure digital tickets to their customers’ mobile phones.
Tixserve launched in the UK in 2017, and managing director Patrick Kirby says that its focus on solving problems for clients and doing trials with potential clients is now delivering strong growth for the company.
In April 2019, the company announced a partnership with UK entertainment retailer HMV to help with its diversification into live events. Tixserve worked with HMV to deliver signing sessions with US band Twenty One Pilots at six stores. The events took place during the UK leg of the band’s Bandito tour and were fully digitally ticketed. Passes were sold by HMV as part of a bundle with the band’s fifth album, Trench.
In the run-up to the events, touts were advertising yet-to-be-activated Tixserve tickets online for up to £200 – a mark-up of more than 1000% on the album/ticket bundle. When fans alerted HMV of these cases, organisers were able to disable all ticket transfer functionality, unless authorised, on a case-by-case basis, by using Tixserve’s technology.
In July 2019, Tixserve announced a multiyear agreement with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for the provision of secure digital ticket delivery services for Twickenham Stadium, the home of England Rugby. The competitive tendering process involved extensive trials with full system testing at numerous events to validate the Tixserve digital ticket fulfilment solution, which included the ability to operate with the existing infrastructure at Twickenham Stadium provided by Ticketmaster and Fortress.
“Tixserve will be announcing a number of other high-profile client deals in the second half of 2019, in the music, theatre, and sports segments of the live events market”
Speaking after the deal, Kirby said: “Tixserve will be announcing a number of other high-profile client deals in the second half of 2019, in the music, theatre, and sports segments of the live events market. We are excited by the scale of opportunity of working with the RFU and the momentum of this success has already opened up business development opportunities for Tixserve not just in the UK and Ireland but in Europe, the USA and Asia.”
Market interest in digital ticketing has significantly increased over the last 12 months, to the extent that Tixserve is now handling a large volume of inbound enquiries from potential clients. Kirby says: “We are not in the business of selling ‘technology’ to clients but instead we focus on understanding the needs of potential clients and solving their business problems with a software platform that uses proven, high-performance and cost-effective enabling technologies.”
He also cautions against the hype associated with many start-up, technology- led companies setting out to ‘disrupt’ an industry such as the live event ticketing sector. “Tixserve’s mission is to add value to the live events industry by enabling its clients to gain business benefits from the adoption of digital ticketing including convenience for customers, security, authorised ticket exchange, lower costs, ‘know your customer’ data capture, and new digital commerce revenue streams that have the potential to transform the ticket into a profit centre.”
Protect Group provides innovative event cancellation protection and refund protection to all sizes and types of ticketing companies, platforms, events, venues, sports teams and more.
“We developed our solutions to not only provide the broadest and most comprehensive protection to our members and their ticket buyers, but also to generate new revenue streams to tackle rising costs and reduced margins for events,” says Ben Lenighan, head of commercial partnerships at Protect Group.
Protect Group first experienced success with Event Protect, their event cancellation protection, which was primarily for ticketing companies but also allowed organisers to reduce their financial risk and be assured their events were protected. This was due to increasing cancellation risks globally, as well as demand for a quicker and a more cost-effective insurance solution of this type.
Soon after, Refund Protect was created after the company saw the chance to create a more consumer-centric refund protection product for ticketing companies.
Ticketing companies integrate Event Protect and Refund Protect via a simple API, which allows sales transactions to be underwritten by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, Tokio Marine HCC and Swiss Re – three of the largest insurance providers.
“We developed our solutions to not only provide the broadest and most comprehensive protection to our members and their ticket buyers, but also to generate new revenue streams to tackle rising costs and reduced margins for events”
Protect Group says this means events and attendees have the best protection in place without admin work required from the organiser and/or ticketing company and with no upfront costs.
Since inception Protect Group says it has underwritten millions of transactions, handling the entire refund process for ticketing companies and events.
Lenighan continues, “The key is to refund attendees quickly and transparently, either if the event cancels or if the attendee themselves cannot attend the event due to unforeseen circumstances. We do this within seven days, with an average refund time globally of four days, to ensure that attendees are kept satisfied and negative social media impact is reduced.”
Based in Leeds, UK, Protect Group has members in over 25 different countries. It is opening international business hubs in North America, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Oceania as part of a global expansion resulting from an increase in demand.
The aim of Activity Stream is to make data accessible and valuable to the layman, so people can understand important information relating to ticket sales without needing a data science qualification.
When it comes to analysing data, most organisations are left with two choices: working manually with reporting tools and making lists and reports in Excel, or (for the major organisations only) investing in building your own data warehouse combining data from multiple sources. But that’s a multiyear project, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and takes up key resources.
“We launched the company based on a middle way, a model of SaaS,” says Martin Gammeltoft. “We used AI, cluster analysis and weak-pattern recognition that you wouldn’t get by working in Excel, and built an AI model to predict ticket sales.
“Our AI is trained on multiple data sets rather than solely based on the one organisation’s it’s plugged into, so it’s able to help people straight away.
“It looks at things like whether some categories are moving faster than others, are you attracting lots of first-time buyers to specific events; it combines the ticket sales information and the digital side of things so you can look at the effect of campaigns. You can see ticket sales in real time but also see where they are coming from – whether it’s a Facebook campaign or mail-out or from one of your partners.”
“AI is like someone who has 40 years’ experience in the industry at 16 different venues – they can’t specifically email one person, but they apply their knowledge to their latest job”
The resulting easy-to-understand platform gives powerful insights that help improve marketing, planning, saves time and improves revenues, says Gammeltoft.
“The nature of AI is that you can train the model on data sets, and then transfer the learning to other organisations. So you never see a competitor’s data or use it, but the AI has learned from many sets. It’s like someone who has 40 years’ experience in the industry at 16 different venues – they can’t specifically email one person, but they apply their knowledge to their latest job. The AI learns from patterns but it’s not bringing specific consumers’ information or sales or events.
“It can tell you things like 92% of your Facebook sales are a particular demographic, so maybe you need to adjust that, or that a particular high-value customer hasn’t bought a ticket in 16 months but has suddenly come back.”
Gammeltoft, who has a background in economics, believes these AI-assisted insights will have a profound effect on the industry because they can identify things a human might not notice.
Clients include AXS, The Shubert Organization and London’s Barbican Centre.
Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of ITY 2019, or subscribe to the magazine here
Gigantic set for record-breaking 2018
UK ticket agency Gigantic is on course for a record year after posting turnover growth of 21% in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2018, its busiest to date.
The Nottingham-based company’s achievements in Q4 include an exclusive Spotify presale for Pink’s UK tour, new deals with Nottingham City Council and Visit Nottinghamshire and the deployment of its ticketing solution for multiple Christmas market events, including Nottingham Winter Wonderland, Christmas in Wallsall and Sheffield’s the Village Screen Christmas.
Mark Gasson, the company’s founder, comments: “We experienced a record year in 2017, with more than 20,000 separate events available via gigantic.com and 1.5 million tickets sold, an increase of 500,000 ticket sales year on year. As we approach the end of 2018 we remain confident that we will deliver another successful year of record results.
“Next year is going to be an incredibly exciting year for Gigantic, with lots of new technological developments due to launch and new business agreements already in the pipeline.”
Gigantic, founded in 1997, works with the UK’s biggest promoters, festivals and venues, including Live Nation, DHP Family and AEG Presents; Reading and Leeds, Tramlines and Download; and O2 Academy Brixton, Wembley Stadium and Rock City, Nottingham.
“Best friend” Gigantic grows indie festival roster
Ahead of the 2018 festival season, UK ticket agency Gigantic has revealed it has almost doubled the size of its festival roster since 2015, with an 84% increase in the number of festivals it has put on sale over the past three years.
Gigantic, an independent ticketing company based in Nottingham, has almost 300 festivals on sale, with founder Mark Gasson saying indie events appreciate a partner who can help ease the “myriad demands” on festival organisers’ time.
Cornwall’s Leopallooza, Kent’s Southbeats, PennFest in Buckinghamshire, Chagstock in Devon and Handmade in Leicester are among the latest events to appoint Gigantic as their lead ticketing agent, joining existing clients Reading and Leeds Festivals, Lovebox, Download, Latitude, Tramlines, the Great Escape and Indietracks.
“We consider ourselves as the best friend to independent festival and events”
In 2018, an estimated 500,000 customers will be scanned through Gigantic’s ‘queue-busting’ access control system at events across the country.
“We have significantly strengthened our position within the extremely competitive marketplace over the past 18 months,” comments Gasson. “We pride ourself on working closely with festival organisers because we are passionate about what we do. We are proud to be independent, which allows us to be flexible and supportive.
“We consider ourselves as the best friend to independent festival and events.”
More Google resale reactions: “Some distance left to go”
With new global restrictions now live on the use of Google AdWords by secondary ticketing sites, UK anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance has “unequivocally welcomed” the update to Google’s ad policies – but warned there is still room for improvement if the search giant is serious about cracking down on dishonest ticket resellers.
As required by Google’s new ‘event ticket reseller policy’, all major online secondary outlets – including Get Me In! and Seatwave in the UK, Ticketmaster Resale in Australia, SeekGeek, TicketsNow and Vivid Seats in the US and StubHub and Viagogo internationally – have put up notices making clear they are resale sites, and that prices may be above face value.
However, the same wording isn’t included in the ads themselves, meaning a Google search, for example, for “Kendrick Lamar tickets” still brings up scores of resale sites as the top results, with no indication they are not the primary sellers.
In a statement, FanFair identifies this lack of consistency as the “one crucial area” where more needs to be done, saying that while it welcomes Google’s “proactive involvement to bring further transparency to the ticket resale market”, the “largest resale sites still fail to make clear that they are secondary platforms, listing secondhand tickets.
“Given their continued prominence on search pages, the implication remains that these are authorised primary sellers or ‘official sites’. That is simply not the case. Until their ad messaging is amended, we suspect UK ticket buyers will continue to be misled.
“Until ad messaging is amended, we suspect ticket buyers will continue to be misled”
“This is something we look forward to discussing with Google and will urge them to act upon. Unless secondary ticketing sites are forced to ‘be honest’, the full consumer benefits of certification are unlikely to be achieved.”
Elsewhere in the UK industry, Mark Gasson, founder of primary ticket agency Gigantic, urges Google to go on step further in totally excluding secondary sellers from its search results. “While we welcome these changes that help to protect customers from being deceived when searching for tickets online, we would like to see this as the beginning rather than the end in the attempt to safeguard online ticketing,” he tells IQ. “In time, we would want to see all secondary sites excluded from all ticket searches and be restricted to pure secondary tickets searches.
“As it stands, some customers will still not see past the warnings and will end up paying more than they need to for their tickets. This not only misleads customers but also impacts on their potential spend on other concerts.”
“Google’s moves to ban misleading adverts from the secondary sites on its search engines is a welcome move, and a step in the right direction which should stop a lot of people being ripped off,” adds Dan Ealam, director of promoter DHP Family.
“Having seen firsthand the pain these unethical sites can cause consumers through false claims of being official, financial heartache for music fans and sometimes even selling non-existent tickets, we feel there is still some distance left to go, but this is a good starting point from Google.”
Tramlines renews deal with ‘queue-busting’ Gigantic
This year’s Tramlines festival will feature a “queue-busting” Gigantic ticketing solution that aims to cut down on lines associated with extra security checks.
Gigantic last year cut queuing times by 90%, and the Nottingham-based ticketer says it hopes to further minimise “those dreaded queues” in 2017. “With extra security checks in place at major events such as Glastonbury last month seeing thousands of revellers queuing for hours in the searing sun, Gigantic’s ticketing and box office operation looks set to cut down on those dreaded queues,” reads a statement from the company.
Several UK events have had longer-than-average queues for entry this summer, as festivals increase security measures in response to a string of recent terrorist attacks. Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn on Saturday issued an apology after several people reportedly suffered injuries in a crush while queuing for Ireland’s Longitude festival.
“When we started working with Gigantic, we were at a time of growth, and since then Tramlines has gone from strength to strength, with last year our best in terms of operations,” says Tramlines festival director Sarah Nulty. “It was the most efficient the box office has ever run.”
“Every promoter will tell you that they hate people having to queue to get into their event”
Gigantic founder Mark Gasson says the move away from physical to electronic tickets “brought the operation into the 21st century”. He comments: “Every promoter will tell you that they hate people having to queue to get into their event. For Tramlines, getting the ticketing and box office right was really important to enable them to continue growing the festival. Being on site we can adapt to any situation quickly and offer a solution to ensure everyone gets in quickly and customers are happy.”
Tramlines 2017 takes place at six venues across Sheffield from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 July. Performers include The Libertines, Metronomy, All Saints, Primal Scream and Toots and the Maytals.
Music City Foundation, a Sheffield charity, said in April it had agreed to acquire Tramlines for £1.2m from promoter Tramlines Events Ltd.