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Di-rect show in big-screen cinema moves 14,000 tickets

Dutch rock band Di-rect sold more than 14,000 tickets for their latest concert live stream, held at the Omniversum cinema in the Hague last Friday (5 March).

The show, the band’s sixth in the last 12 months, saw Di-rect perform in front of Omniversum’s giant, Imax-style domed screen – which at 840m² is 4,500 times larger than a home television, and wraps halfway around the audience – against the backdrop of immersive light show created by projection-mapping company Mr Beam.

Like previous Di-Rect live streams, tickets for the Omniversum event were sold by GUTS Tickets on a pay-what-you-choose model.

“A band in great shape, a high-quality livestream from a unique location, and the ‘pay-what-you-like’ ticketing defines its success”

“It’s great to see so much enthusiasm for Di-rect’s livestream concerts,” says promoter Agents After All in a statement. “Even though it was their sixth live stream in a year, it was their best sold one to date. The combination of a band in great shape, a high-quality livestream from a unique location, and the ‘pay-what-you-like’ ticketing with GUTS ticketing defines its success, we believe.

“A great compliment to everyone involved and we look forward to the next event on 1 May with the Hague Philharmonic Orchestra.”

Tickets for Di-rect’s seventh live stream, from AFAS Circus Theatre in the Hague, are on sale now via the band’s website. Pay-what-you-like pricing starts from a minimum of €2.

 


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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10,000 fans buy tickets for virtual Di-rect show

Nearly 10,000 people tuned into a ticketed livestream performance by the popular Dutch band Di-rect in the Hague on Saturday.

The veteran rock act played to an empty Royal Theatre (Koninklijke Schouwburg), a 680-seat venue in the centre of the Netherlands’ legislative capital, on 6 June, after having sold tickets for the concert on a pay-what-you-want basis.

With ticket sales of just shy of 10,000, the band – who were originally scheduled to play 20 festival shows this summer – played to a virtual crowd of around 15 times the Royal Theatre’s in-person capacity, according to ticket seller GUTS Tickets.



In addition to storing the tickets for the show, GUTS’s smartphone-based ticket wallet served as a chat room for fans to interact during the performance. (“By far my most special concert ever,” read one typical comment. “Dancing by myself in my sweatpants with a beer in my hand!”)

“We believe that in the future every performance will be livestreamed”

Tom Roetgering, CCO of GUTS Tickets, says the success of the event proves paid-for live streams are here to stay.

“We believe that in the future every performance will be livestreamed,” he says. “Not only does it add a source of revenue for the artist, but it also helps build a valuable and lasting connection to their fanbase. We are glad our system can make some significant contributions to this process.”

Other recent ticketed livestreamed successes include Laura Marling, who played the Union Chapel in Islington, London, also on Saturday, and Lewis Capaldi, who reportedly generated “arena-level”, though unspecified, ticket sales for his show at his parents’ house. K-pop band SuperM, meanwhile, sold a reported 75,000 tickets for their first Beyond Live show in April.

Following the success of the Royal Theatre concert, Di-rect announced another livestreamed performance, on Scheveningen beach, near the Hague, again ticketed by GUTS.

 


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GUTS Tickets partners with Dutch festival Oerrock

Amsterdam-based blockchain ticketing service GUTS Tickets will supply all digital tickets for the upcoming edition of Oerrock festival in Friesland, the Netherlands.

Founded in 2016, GUTS has broken multiple blockchain ticketing records, most recently powering the sale for two 35,000-capacity shows by pop star Guus Meeuwis at the Philips Stadium in Eindhoven.

The new partnership will see GUTS provide ticketing for the three-day festival, which takes place from 21 to 23 May 2020. Line-up details will be released when tickets go on sale on Wednesday 15 January.

Founded in 2000, Oerrock now attracts over 35,000 visitors a year. Last year’s festival featured Dutch artists including Meeuwis, Golden Earring, Miss Montreal and the Dirty Daddies.

“It’s a huge improvement that we are now preventing all unwanted resales of tickets”

“We think this step is beneficial for our festival and our visitors,” comments festival treasurer Kees-Jan Dijk. “And of course it’s a huge improvement that we are now preventing all unwanted resales of tickets.”

Tickets bought via GUTS are registered to the mobile phone of the buyer, protecting fans from touting or fraud. All transactions are registered with blockchain technology, allowing organisers to track each ticket and preventing duplication or above-face-value resale.

“We are proud to work with such a likeable and sincere organisation. Together, we’ll provide the visitors of Oerrock an awesome and carefree weekend,” adds GUTS founder and CEO Maarten Bloemers.

Tickets will become available here, with weekend tickets priced at €38.75.

 


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GUTS prepares for biggest blockchain-ticketed show

Amsterdam-based blockchain ticketing service GUTS Tickets will power the sale for Dutch pop star Guus Meeuwis’ upcoming shows, in the largest individual shows to be ticketed on blockchain technology.

Meeuwis is performing two shows at the 35,000-capacity Philips Stadium in Eindhoven, home to PSV football club, on 12 and 13 June 2020.

The shows are set to break the record for the largest-ever blockchain ticketing sale, set by GUTS with the sale of 50,000 tickets for comedian Jochem Myjer’s 36-night run at Amsterdam’s Royal Theatre Carre (1,756-cap.).

Tickets bought via GUTS are registered to the mobile phone of the buyer, protecting fans from touting or fraud. All transactions are registered with blockchain technology, allowing organisers to track each ticket and preventing duplication or above-face-value resale.

Tickets bought via GUTS are registered to the mobile phone of the buyer, protecting fans from touting or fraud

In 2018, Meeuwis was one several Dutch artists to sign a manifesto demanding an end to high ticket prices on the secondary market.

The European Parliament recently tackled the issue of resale directly for the first time, banning the use of ticket bots and requiring more transparency from sellers. According to GUTS, no specific legislative action has been taken in the Netherlands to prevent touts “profiteering” from resale.

The Dutch National Police Corps now lists GUTS as a safe platform to use for purchasing tickets.

Tickets for the Meeuwis shows go on sale through GUTS Tickets on 7 June at 10 a.m. local time.

 


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GUTS powers largest-ever blockchain ticket sale

All 50,000 tickets for Jochem Myjer’s upcoming 36-night run at Amsterdam’s Royal Theatre Carré will be sold via GUTS Tickets, in what the blockchain ticketing platform is calling the “largest ticket sale on the blockchain to date”.

Myjer (pictured), one of the Netherlands’ most popular comedians, brings his Adem in, adem uit (Breathe in, breathe out) tour to the 1,756-capacity Carré Theatre from January to May 2019. Tickets for all shows will be sold exclusively through GUTS Tickets, marking the official launch of its GET Protocol solution following last year’s trial at mini-festival Here Comes the Summer.

Described as a “fraud- and scalping-proof ecosystem”, the GET Protocol allows event organisers to track their tickets at all times, with all transactions registered transparently with blockchain technology. These ‘smart tickets’ are unable to be duplicated or sold for a price other than the one set by the issuer.

Amsterdam-based GUTS has previously with Myjer previously, earlier this year selling some 18,000 tickets for nine venues within two hours.

GUTS Tickets partners include event promoter Modestus and theatre production company Hekwek, while Martin Garrix’s manager, Watse de Jong, and ITB agent Chris Payne are advisors.

Other ticketing platforms building their infrastructure on blockchain – a distributed ledger which permanently stores all transactions, used by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – include AventusBlockparty, Tari, BitTicket/Citizen Ticket, China’s Baidu and Russia’s Crypto.tickets, which last winter sold digital tickets for Kraftwerk at the Kremlin.

 


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GUTS Tickets raises $2.5m+ in ICO presale

Blockchain ticketing platform GUTS Tickets has launched an initial coin offering (ICO) it expects to raise nearly US$20m, after plans to ban ticket resale for more than 120% of face value were torpedoed by the Dutch senate.

Last week’s rejection of the six-year-old Ticket Bill (Ticketwet), which Amsterdam-based GUTS says had already been “diluted to the point it became obsolete”, by the Netherlands’ upper house spurred the company to launch an ICO, a type of fundraising mechanism in which – similar to an IPO, where investors buy shares in a company – new projects sell ‘tokens’ in exchange for cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin or (in GUTS’s case) ether.

The GUTS ICO, currently in the presale stage, has so far raised more than $2.5m, with the ICO proper due to commence on 15 November. The company expects to raise a further $17m to fund the development of its platform, which uses blockchain technology to ensure “fans have an opportunity to see their favourite performers at the price originally set by the artist”.

Commenting on the ICO, GUTS Tickets CCO Tom Roetgering tells IQ: “We want to be the most transparent and honest ICO out there. Very little ICOs have an actual working product and clients. We do.

“Our main goal is convince the community that we are a legit project and there is no money-grabbing involved. All the computer program code for blockchain is audited and published so everybody knows everything. Because of the properties of blockchain, everybody is able to see how we transfer the funds and if we misuse them.

“We want to do it the right way, all the way”

“Also important to note is that we’re actually doing a rather small ICO – $17 million is considered to be small. I know: bananas. So the bottom line is: we want to do it the right way, all the way.”

Roetgering also explains that GUTS plans to allow other ticket sellers to use its protocol, known as GET, to distribute tickets on the blockchain.

GUTS this summer deployed its platform at Here Comes the Summer festival, as part of a trial backed by the EU’s Innofest. The company distributed food and drink tokens through the blockchain, allowing attendees to buy tokens through their smartphones – and creating a permanent, easy-to-follow record of all transactions at the festival.

Other recent industry ICOs include ticketing platform Aventus and Viberate, an Airbnb-style marketplace for unsigned musiciansIQ highlighted in March how the blockchain – the decentralised database technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – is being used in ticketing, live streaming/VR and the distribution of performance royalties.

4 ways blockchain can disrupt the live industry

 


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4 ways blockchain can disrupt the live industry

While much has been made of the potential for blockchain – the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – to revolutionise the recorded music industry, the same isn’t true in the live sector.

Articles by the major tech and business publications (ForbesFortuneTechCrunch et al.) have largely focused on implications for the online streaming of recorded music, citing the benefits of ‘smart contracts’ wherein the owner(s) of songs will be paid automatically for their usage. However, while wider adoption of blockchain may, as Imogen Heap suggests, throw a much-needed lifeline to musicians struggling with paltry Spotify pay-outs, it could also radically transform the (comparatively more lucrative) live industry…

 


Tout-proof ticketing
In the same way blockchain databases monitor where a music recording has been used, the technology can be used to track the ownership of a paperless concert ticket.

Chris Carey, founder of Media Insight Consulting and the recent FastForward conference (at which IQ news editor Jon Chapple chaired a ticketing panel), suggests blockchain can facilitate the “legitimate resale of tickets by having a clear chain”. Speaking to IQ’s Eamonn Forde, Carey says by tracking secondary sales, ticket agencies could provide artists and promoters with a cut of each resale: “Tracking the ticket through its journey could actually create revenue at different steps. There is an argument to say that if you can monitor transactions through technology, the artist could get a share of the upside at every step of the way.”

Several yet-to-launch start-ups, including Amsterdam-based GUTS and the UK’s Lava, are already using the technology to bolster the both the data-gathering and anti-touting capabilities of paperless tickets.

GUTS Tickets founder Maarten Bloemers echoes Carey’s suggestion that blockchain can be used by artists to track ownership of a ticket, saying the technology “makes it possible to follow the lifecycle of a ticket from A to Z”. He tells Dutch paper De Telegraaf he had the idea for the company after hearing a discussion about black-market tickets on a radio programme. “Someone [on the show] said no one can guarantee the authenticity of tickets,” he explains, “and I immediately thought of blockchain.”

“We’re looking at a world where knowing the complete provenance of the ticket is a good thing,” adds Benji Rogers, co-founder and CEO of dotBlockchain Music (dotBC). “Unless, of course, you’re trying to hide something…”

 


Levelling the PROing field
Perhaps the most important live application of blockchain could be to give PROs a shot in the arm at a time when an increasing number of rightsholders are choosing to bypass collective licensing altogether in favour of collecting public performance royalties directly.

Rogers – unlike, for example, Mark Knopfler – believes there is “still a place for PROs to make large deals on behalf of artists”, but says they face the challenge of “not [being] competitive today”. (Little surprise, perhaps, when many are more than a century old: the UK’s Performing Right Society was founded in 1914.)

“They’re using tech not built for the size and scale of what’s coming at them,” he explains.

The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (Socan) recently became the first PRO to partner with dotBC. Eric Baptiste, the CEO of Socan – which represents more than 135,000 rightsholders and recently saw collections from live performances grow to a record high – said last month: “We are convinced that it is possible to address payment and rights inefficiencies […] that have been a drag on the entire ecosystem for far too long.” He added: “The encouraging work of dotBC has the potential to unlock enormous value for our members”.

Rogers says PROs making use of blockchain technology will be able to compete more effectively by offering a better service to their membership. Comparing PROs to trains running on different gauges of track, he prophesies that in future collection societies will “need to work on a common rail”: “If we build the perfect sound format [.bc], we build the rail and everyone can ride on same track.”

DotBlockchain Music, then, “allows [PROs] to work together while remaining competitive,” says Rogers. “They can then compete based on how good their accounting is, how good their data side is…

“We’re looking at a world where knowing the complete provenance of the ticket is a good thing”

 


Safe streaming
Another potential application of blockchain in the live space is to enable artists and promoters to broadcast their shows live safe in the knowledge copyright owners are being paid.

Writing in IQ last year, Sziget Festival’s András Berta was enthusiastic about live streaming as a way to reach more fans, but said there are concerns about the complexities involved in licensing live streams. “In 2016, I think we still face a grey [area] when it comes to clearing streaming rights,” he wrote, “simply because the industry is far from being homogeneous. Different players hold different cards, and this can result in a losing hand in many cases.”

By using dotBC’s codec (.bc), which binds writer metadata to the track, for music files, Rogers explains festivals like Sziget will be free to live-stream on sites such as Facebook and YouTube – and artists able to sell recordings straight after the show – with the writers receiving owed royalties automatically.

Rogers, also a musician, relates an anecdote about his experience licensing live recordings. Following a concert in which his band played two covers (The Cars and Gram Parsons), he paid the Harry Fox Agency to purchase the rights to distribute a recording of the show. “We said we’d sell maybe 1,000,” he explains. “We gave them $2,500 and never heard anything else.”

There was, he says, “no itemisation or monetisation” on the bill – theoretically, the band could have sold 10,000 copies and Harry Fox might never have known. With blockchain, conversely, there is a “bulletproof digital asset” that ensures ownership of songs is always “anchored back to the writers”.

 


A new rights reality
Like live streaming, filming and distributing shows in virtual reality (VR) is being tipped as a new revenue stream for the promoters of the future, with recent research finding early VR adopters outspend the average American 2:1 on live events.

However, Rogers says VR is also currently a licensing nightmare, with a traditional sync licence – which grants the licensee the rights to synchronise music with visual media – insufficient for a live VR gig, where the setlist is liable to change.

“How do I license a VR concert,” asks Rogers, “if I don’t know what songs are going to be played?”

Rogers says that, “right now, sound recordings” – master recordings, typically owned by labels, as opposed to the copyrights to the compositions themselves, usually administered by a publisher – “hold supremacy”, but in future “PROs [performance rights organisations] are going to have to do a deal with the publishing side of things” to offer more flexible licences for new experiences like VR shows.

One company leveraging the blockchain to do just that – again backed by Imogen Heap – is Ujo Music, which aims to provide a “shared infrastructure for all music services”, independent of the traditional label/publisher/licensing axis.

“If we build a common language for music, we can scale the business infinitely”

 


While blockchain offers tremendous opportunities for promoters, artists, ticketing companies and PROs, Gregor Pryor, co-chair of the global entertainment and media industry group at legal firm Reed Smith, told IQ in issue 62 its actual take-up in live may stymied by the fact most people at the top end the top end of the concert business are actually making money.

“Live has probably been the place that artists have been running to when their digital revenues have been dropping,” he said in late 2015. “The live industry has been nowhere near as disrupted by digital as the record industry has – in fact, it has probably benefited. There has to be a reason for them to adopt it [blockchain].

“In the world of streaming royalty payments,” Pryor suggests, “there is much more of an incentive and impetus to adopt change. There is not any driving force behind change in live.”

However, as underlined above, much has changed since then. With growing unease around the state of the secondary ticket market, and the emergence of direct licensing and new, non-traditional PROs – such as Germany’s GWVR, which gives concert promoters a cut of the royalties from recordings – technology, as in so many other walks of life, may indeed provide the answer.

As it stands, music has “no common language,” concludes Rogers. “Email has POP3, Skype runs on VoIP [voice over IP]… If we build a common language for music – the perfect sound format – we can scale the business infinitely.”

 


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