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Italy’s Vivaticket allies with MyTicket Asia

Malaysia-based SeatAdvisor has partnered with Vivaticket, the Italian multinational ticketing and technology company, as Vivaticket’s exclusive reseller in south-east Asia.

SeatAdvisor, whose MyTicket Asia platform looks after ticketing for some of the region’s biggest events and venues, including Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit and Kuala Lumpur Sports City, becomes exclusive B2C resale partner to Bologna-based Vivaticket, whose ticketing and access-control products are used to sell over 650 million tickets annually across the world.


Dirk Sass, founder and CEO of MyTicket Asia, comments: “We are delighted to partner with Vivaticket as their exclusive reseller for the south-east Asia region. With our wide network and regional partners in Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India, we will be able to bring first-class services and technology into stadiums throughout the region.

“We are also looking forward to building a bridge for Asian travellers to buy original tickets for venues and events managed by Vivaticket.

“This new collaboration will help us … to expand into an important market like the Asian one”

“Vivaticket is known to offer ticket services for many international artists, the largest soccer stadiums and competitions, as well as the reputable Disney California Adventure Park. This partnership open new avenues for both sides and further future discussions are on the way. Thank you to Luca and his team for the trust and faith to build the new future of Asia ticketing and stadium management.”

“Thanks to its ticketing system, Vivaticket already sells more than 651 million tickets per year in 50 countries, with over 2,700 installations, through responsive portals and mobile apps,” adds Luca Montebugnoli, executive chairman of Vivaticket. “This new collaboration with a partner of great value will help us to increase these numbers and to expand into an important market like the Asian one.”

Vivaticket, formerly Best Union, is one of three leading primary ticketing companies in Italy, along with Ticketmaster Italy and market leader TicketOne (CTS Eventim).

The company, which has offices in Italy, Spain, Australia, the UAE, the UK, France, the US and Singapore, was acquired by Bahrain-based Investcorp in September 2019.


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Keeping afloat: Livescape on why the live experience is “irreplaceable”

Asia was the first continent to bear the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak, but not all suffered the peak at the same time.

Speaking to promoters in China and South Korea at the end of March, IQ found that some more stringent restrictions were beginning to be lifted and a “cautious sense of optimism” was settling in, even if the return to touring as we know it is still a long way off.

Now, the situation in countries in southeast Asia, which had staved off sharp spikes in cases until relatively recently, is worsening. Cases in Singapore have begun to rise again, the Indonesian capital of Jakarta has entered lockdown and the Malaysian government has extended its social distancing measure for a second time, until 28 April.

IQ catches up with Iqbal Ameer, CEO of Livescape Group, which operates in all three markets, to discuss government reactions, consumer confidence and the live industry post Covid-19.


IQ: What have you learned so far from the Covid-19 outbreak?
IA: The most important thing? That supporting each other brings out the best in people. We’re no stranger to being dealt with shit cards in the deck, and as a company have had crazy challenges over the past ten years. But now this is a global scale, and we’ve really seen the importance of community and how it is a driving force in achieving anything.

We’ve also learnt that adaptability is key in situations like this. We are hard at work in extending our festival brands and our business model to be more digitally focused. We are proud of our festivals that we have built and carry those badges on our chest. The challenge here is to ensure that we continue to deliver the same Livescape experience to our fans during trying times.

When do you think the recovery might start in Asia Pacific and how is the Livescape Group preparing for this?
At this point in time, we are all uncertain about when the actual recovery period is. Although there has been significant advances in Asian countries compared to Europe and America, we are still remaining vigilant – anything can happen.

Asia-Pacific alone has over 51 million people affected in the music industry, and this is no small number

The Livescape Group is based in three countries: Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. We are anticipating post-Covid-19 to be vital in economic stimulation, and we are working with the respective government bodies to ensure that events can continue by implementing precautionary measures with a focus on the health and wellbeing of music fans.

We are also pivoting some of our assets to be more lifestyle orientated.

How do you feel about the government response to the situation across the markets you operate in?
We have seen most governments around the region offering stimulus packages to help with the nation’s economy during this unprecedented time. Unfortunately for some of us based in Malaysia, most of it does not benefit us directly. As a member of Alife (Association of the Arts, Live Festivals and Events), Livescape is having continuous open discussions with the Malaysian government about the issues of postponement or cancellations, and are demanding that we are considered as well. Asia-Pacific alone has over 51 million people affected in the music industry, and this is no small number.

However, countries such as South Korea and Singapore have set ideal global practices for other countries to follow suit; which would contribute to the speed of the recovery. With our festival It’s the Ship being based in Singapore, we are thankful for the swift and fast action of the Singaporean government. We support their initiatives to get the arts and live sector up and running as soon as possible. (The Singaporean government has provided a $55 million arts and culture resilience package, including $20,000 grants for digital projects).

What changes might we see long term across the industry, and the festival business in particular?
It is naive to say that this pandemic will not change the core nature of the festival business. Already, we are seeing festivals and artists venturing into the digital space with livestreaming performances along with an increase of creative content being shared out in hopes to connect during this void of live events with their fans and community. Although it is a short-term solution to fill the void of live events, we do not consider this to be a road to recovery, as we believe that the live event experiences are irreplaceable.

We also expect a stronger focus on local talents, due to the nature of the interaction of communities during this period of time, and local gigs would be quicker to pick up post Covid-19.

The global pandemic has impacted the events industry in an unprecedented manner but we are optimistic about the long-term demand for live, experiential experiences

Post Covid-19, people will also be more wary in terms of how they experience live events in large gathering situations. It is then our responsibility as event organisers to ensure that we have procedures in place to address concerns relating to the health and safety measures such as temperature checks and sanitisation booths.

In some ways, people will also come to realise what our company has been preaching for the past ten years: experience comes first. We definitely see a desire for people to connect in person and we will not discount the renaissance of the roaring 20s, an era that was sparked after a period of difficult times.

Being a floating festival, do you foresee any particular challenges with the future of It’s the Ship?
We feel the challenges are across the board for all festivals. I’d be lying if I said no, but we are optimistic and never risk the safety and wellbeing of our shipmates. That has always been a top priority of ours, unfortunately the term “the show must go on” does not apply to us in this situation.

We’ve been transparent with that in our community and in our communications, with a campaign revolving around #StayHomeToComeHome, where we continuously share relevant news and information through our social platforms.

Being a floating festival, It’s the Ship provides a unique experience in terms of venue, as it takes place onboard a ship. The advantage is the fact that the venue puts us in a controlled environment that allows us to manage and plan prior to the event itself. We are also working very closely with the cruise company, which has recently put in place comprehensive health and safety preventive measures for the ease and comfort of our attendees.

At Livescape, we’re thankful to the partners we work with, especially cruise lines that we work with who have offered extremely affordable rates to ensure that It’s the Ship continues its multiple voyages in the years to come.

In Asia in particular, the main challenge would be rebuilding people’s confidence in attending large-scale events

What more general challenges do you think the industry face getting back up to speed?
In Asia in particular, the main challenge would be rebuilding people’s confidence in attending large-scale events. Putting in health and safety preventive measures will be key in reassuring our community.

The global pandemic has impacted the events industry in an unprecedented manner but we are optimistic about the long-term demand for live, experiential experiences! With social distancing being practised globally, audiences will be craving live, interactive experiences more, which will create the opportunity for experiential events to bounce back at a greater scale.

At Livescape, what have you been doing to adapt to life in the wake of coronavirus?
With a strong team in a resilient industry, our team has been taking this time working from home to diversify our business models and digitising our assets and communities. Our core philosophy has remained the same, but our execution will differ, moving towards more digitalisation – something extremely adaptable. This will be more evident once all this is over.

Until then, we will embrace the changes, continue to evolve to adapt to the situation and to be there for our industry, as well as the local communities, to the best of our ability.

Livescape has continued to build relationships and trust with our clients and partners who have approached us with the same vision of diversifying in mind. We work hand-in-hand in developing some very successful campaigns for big and small SMEs alike and we highly recommend that other companies do the same and look into opportunities available.

Remember always: We write the future!


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20 before 2020: Live Nation buys into Malaysia’s PR Worldwide

Live Nation has acquired a controlling interest in the live entertainment division of PR Worldwide, one of Malaysia’s leading live events promoters, in its second acquisition announced this week and the 20th of the year.

Established in 1999, PR Worldwide is one of the most prominent promoters in the Asia-Pacific region, having previously worked with Live Nation on tours including Bruno Mars, Lewis Capaldi, Why Don’t We, Jim Jeffries and Charlie Puth. It has also promoted shows by the likes of Ed Sheeran, Mariah Carey, Imagine Dragons, Russell Peters, Shawn Mendes and Disney on Ice in its own right.

The pre-Christmas buy-in to PR follows the acquisition earlier this week of Chile’s DG Medios. IQ calculates that Live Nation has taken a majority shareholding in 20 promoters, festivals and other live music-related businesses so far this year across Asia (One Production, PR Worldwide), Australia (Moshtix), North America (Embrace PresentsNeste Event MarketingLevitateSpaceland PresentsBonnaroo, Groot Hospitality), Europe (Planet EventsBlockfestTons of RockAntwerps SportpaleisPDH MusicGo AheadRewind FestivalHög Agency) and Latin America (Rock in RioOcesa Entertainment, DG Medios).

“We are extremely proud to be taking our long-standing relationship with Live Nation to the next level,” comments Para Rajagopal, founder and CEO of PR Worldwide. “It gives us a unique opportunity to continue PR Worldwide’s 20-year commitment to the development of the Malaysian live entertainment industry. Together, we can strengthen Malaysia as one of the major live entertainment destinations while giving both artists and fans the very best live experiences.”

“We are excited to add yet another market to our Asia-Pacific network, which enables us to become the leading international concert promoter in Malaysia”

“Asia continues to be an extremely important region for growth and opportunity for Live Nation. By joining forces with PR Worldwide we are excited to add yet another market to our Asia-Pacific network, which enables us to become the leading international concert promoter in Malaysia,” says Paul Antonio, president of Live Nation Asia and Middle East.

“It is our pleasure to welcome Para Rajagopal and his team to the family and we look forward to working with them to service artists and offer unforgettable live experiences to fans across the region,”

Live Nation has Asia-Pacific offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland. Earlier this year, the company announced its expansion to Singapore by acquiring leading promoter One Production and made senior appointments to its growing business in China.

It also recently launched Live Nation Connects, a creative marketing agency based in Hong Kong.


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Trailblazers: Godwin Pereira, Kyo

Welcome to the latest edition of Trailblazers – IQ’s regular series of Q&As with the inspirational figures forging their own paths in the global live entertainment business.

From people working in challenging conditions or markets to those simply bringing a fresh perspective to the music world, Trailblazers aims to spotlight unique individuals from all walks of life who are making a mark in one of the world’s most competitive industries. (Read the previous Trailblazers interview, with Aventus’s Annika Monari and Alan Vey, here.)

Following October’s interview with O Beach Ibiza’s Tony Truman, Trailblazers begins 2019 in conversation with another club boss: this time, Godwin Pereira, founder and CEO of south-east Asian club brand Kyō.

The Kyō brand debuted in Singapore in 2013, quickly becoming one of the city-state’s most popular clubs and pulling in international heavyweights such as François K, Osunlade and Nic Fanciulli for its house and techno nights. In December 2016, it expanded to Kuala Lumpur, opening a 6,000sqft, 770-capacity club (divided into two spaces, main room Kyō and smaller space Ren) at the city’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Since opening, Kyō KL has welcomed DJs including Seth Troxler, Dubfire, Talib Kweli, Pan Pot and Jeremy Olander, and recently agreed a partnership with London’s the Egg that saw it take over the club in October.

“Kuala Lumpur has the right elements for a club concept like Kyō to thrive,” said Pereira last year. “It has a cosmopolitan dynamism and a music scene teeming with numerous subgenres and collectives, although there is yet to be one specific venue that caters to all of these genres. Kyō KL was created to fulfil this purpose: housing a spectrum of genres, both up-and-coming and forgotten, to bring together a community of music lovers who can enjoy these in one venue.”


How did you get your start in the industry?
I started young, in the back end, as a roadie and rigging boy. My interest grew from there – to learning the business, booking DJs, doing everything. It was a natural life path to somehow end up owning a club. It drives me nuts but it’s very rewarding and I love it still.

Who, or what, have been the biggest influences on your career so far?
DJs and music, first and foremost. Clubs like Paradise Garage and Studio 54 are influences, for sure – about how humans going into clubs and relate these emotions. [DJs like] François K and all that are huge inspirations for me.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I say, when people ask, that I am in the business of selling memories. If people meet and hook up in my club, that’s a good enough job for me.

What achievements are you most proud of?
In terms of growth for such a small brand – we started in a back street in the business district. We started as a joke. And within five years we’re in a five-star hotel… I think coming from an underground club to a five-star hotel in a basement is a great achievement and shows how strong our brand is.

“We started as a joke. And within five years we’re in a five-star hotel”

How has the business changed since you started out?
I think when we started it was more underground. Our first three months was really an experimental lab. We were seeing what people were and were not responding to.

With this new club we have two rooms, so we have more intimate stuff upstairs and then went more mainstream in the main room. We can do the stuff we want to in the week, but more edgy in the small room at the weekend.

What could the industry do more of?
I think it’s just making artists more accessible. The biggest struggle for mid-sized clubs like us is that it’s hard to afford the big guys. That’s the hardest bit.

Some guys realise that – Seth Troxler and those guys were looking for an intimate vibe instead of the 60,000-people festivals, so we hope artists can see what we are trying to do for them: to offer more intimate shows.

What advice would you give to someone making their start in the industry?
Keep your head clear and have a great legal advisor. Just be hungry for information. That’s what keeps driving things forward.

Go and immerse yourself in something and experience it.


If you’d like to take part in a future Trailblazers interview, or nominate someone else for inclusion, email IQ’s news editor, Jon Chapple, on [email protected].

PAS: ‘“A good thing” tours are skipping Malaysia’

A spokesman for PAS, a hardline Islamist political party in Malaysia, has welcomed reports suggesting many international pop artists are giving the country a wide berth when routing their tours, saying a dearth of concerts will strengthen the moral fibre of Malaysian youth.

In an extraordinary article for party newspaper Harakah Daily, Riduan Mohamad Nor, a member of the PAS central committee, claims Malaysia’s Muslims are “saving the country” from “wild entertainment” – and that news of the cancellation of shows by Coldplay, Megadeth, Beyoncé, Celine Dion is a victory against the “spreading of the culture of entertainment”, which encourages God-fearing Malaysians to commit adultery, drink alcohol, take drugs, fight each other and indulge in other “vices” forbidden by conservative Islam.

Nor’s intervention comes after Reuters suggested late last year that international stars, “especially those known for risqué lyrics or revealing clothing”, are increasingly unlikely to choose to tour Malaysia.

According to a recent UN report, there is growing pressure for Malaysian Muslims, who make up 62% of the population, to adhere to a rigid, fundamentalist, Arabised version of Islam; consequently, said Darren Choy, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of Malaysia, the country will “not be the first choice for any act to tour” when in south-east Asia.

“Let those who worship international celebrities get their entertainment abroad”

That, writes Nor, is “a good thing especially for the […] the younger generation. We may be viewed negatively by some, but it can protect the society and the country.”

Concert promoters, he continues, “should know that Malaysia is not an entertainment hub.

“Let those who love entertainment, and worshipers of international celebrities, get their entertainment abroad. Go to any south-east Asian country to see those artists, but not in Malaysia.”

PAS (Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party), which holds 13 seats in Malaysia’s 222-seat House of Representatives, was last seen in IQ calling for the cancellation of a show by Selena Gomez, who it described as “too sexy” for Malaysia.


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TEG acquires Malaysia’s leading ticketer

TEG, the parent company of Australian ticketing giant Ticketek, has established an Asian division following the acquisition of Malaysia’s TicketCharge.

The new division, based in Singapore, will “focus on the strong growth in live entertainment in the region”, says TEG, and demonstrates the “focus and commitment to expand the [TEG] business into multiple Asian markets”.

TicketCharge was founded in 1991 and has since grown to become Malaysia’s largest ticketing company. It has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

The acquisition comes as TEG announces new partnerships for its Softix ticketing software in Asia, with the as-yet-unannounced new partners joining clients in 20 countries.

“Our strategy puts us on course to becoming a truly international promoter and service producer”

“TEG is the largest diversified entertainment company in Asia Pacific and we have a track record and accumulated expertise in the entertainment industry,” comments TEG CEO Geoff Jones.

“We see huge opportunities in many offshore markets, and our strategy puts us on course to becoming a truly international promoter and service producer.”

In addition to Ticketek, the largest entertainment/sports ticket agency in Australasia, the TEG portfolio includes self-service ticketing platform Eventopia, promoter TEG Live and data business TEG Analytics.

The company is believed to be for sale, with CTS Eventim and Chinese conglomerates Fosun and Wanda Group reportedly among prospective buyers.


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AirAsia to spin off concert ticketing business

Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia is gearing up for a stock market float of its RedTix event ticketing operation, according to a new filing with the Bursa Malaysia stock exchange.

RedTix, previously operating as a division of AirAsia Bhd, is one of the region’s most popular local ticket agencies, with upcoming events including Malaysian shows by Taiwanese rock duo Power Station (pictured), Cantopop group Twins and Bollywood touring production Da-Bang.

By acquiring dormant shell company Rokki Media Holdings and rebranding it RedTix Sdn Bhd, AirAsia Bhd (AAB) will, says the filing, be able to “float the RedTix event ticketing business in the future, which currently resides within AAB, as a separate entity by itself to enable it to have an independent and focused management to drive the […] business”.

The new company’s directors are Sami Joseph El Hadery, the co-founder of AirAsia’s Tune Box inflight entertainment brand, and the airline’s chief financial officer, How Kim Lian.


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Further Asian expansion for Sony’s Zepp venues

Zepp Hall Network, a division of Sony Music Entertainment Japan, has revealed plans for two more mid-sized venues outside Japan.

Joining Zepp Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia – announced in February as the company’s first non-Japanese venue – are [email protected] Singapore, a 2,333-capacity venue jointly operated with Singapore’s Big Box Investment, and Zepp New Taipei, a 2,200-cap. space across four floors in a new development in the Taipei suburb of Hsinchuang Futuhsin.

[email protected] will open first, on 4 June with a show by J-rock band Radwimps, with Zepp New Taipei following in April 2020 and Zepp Kuala Lumpur at the tail end of the same year.

“Zepp’s expansion in Asia will … create touring opportunities for Japanese and international artists”

Funding for the new venues – all of which will feature “stage machinery, lighting and sound systems with specifications standardised for all Zepp venues across the globe”, giving “an advantage to tour promoters and touring artists alike” – is covered partially by the Japanese government’s Cool Japan fund.

The latest round of expansion, says Zepp, “will blaze a trail for the Japanese music industry while creating touring opportunities for Japanese and international artists”. “Our hope is to bring people around the world together and provide the grounds for cultural exchange by building the infrastructure,” it adds in a statement.

Zepp Hall Network manages six venues in Japan – Zepp Sapporo, Zepp Tokyo and Zepp DiverCity in Tokyo, Zepp Nagoya, Zepp Namba in Osaka and the newly opened Zepp Osaka Bayside, with new venues opened in Fukuoka in 2018 and Yokohama in 2020.


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Zepp to operate new $22m Kuala Lumpur venue

Japanese venue group Zepp Hall Network has is to manage a new 2,500-cap. music venue in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur – its first outside Japan.

Zepp Kuala Lumpur – set to open in 2020 – is being built by BBCC Development, the developer of Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Bintang shopping and entertainment district, at a cost of RM100 million (US$22.42m). Zepp Hall Network, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment Japan, has been awarded a 20-year lease on the venue.

Zepp operates five venues in Japan, and also promotes tours and festivals under the Zepp Live brand.

BBCC CEO Datuk Richard Ong Kek Seng says the new development – on the site of the former Pudu prison – will also include a multi-screen cinema, shopping centre and food hall.

According to Livescape Group live events director Rahul Kukreja, writing in IQ 68, Malaysia remains an untapped market for touring in south-east Asia, with a local audience hungry for shows by international artists but a weak currency and hostile governments hampering progress.


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Making the most of Malaysia

I started out as a musician, playing and touring in a band called One Buck Short (OBS). We were able to tour and play alongside great regional and international bands around Asia and Australia. Touring was a constant learning experience, seeing both sides of the live industry and learning so much from the concert promoters who had us on their line-ups. So I not only got to pursue my passion for music, but I met a lot of promoters, artists and agents, which helped grow my career in artist booking.

I was probably inspired by my first ever concert, many moons ago, seeing Michael Jackson play in Brunei, where I grew up. The production was world-class and I remember being awestruck and thinking, “Wow! I have to do something like this!” I must’ve been 12 or 13 then.

I really look up to people like Michael Chugg, as he was one of the first international promoters I assisted with some Asian shows many years ago. He also booked OBS in Australia when we were active. I hope to meet Michael Eavis at Glastonbury and Paul Tollett at Coachella some day, so I can learn how to sustain a music festival and how to overcome the various adversities that all concert promoters face.

In our markets in Asia, dealing with government bodies is always a ‘delicate’ process because people don’t like what they don’t understand and recognise. We are a very forward-thinking company known for bringing in products and experiences previously unheard of, such as our floating EDM festival, It’s the Ship. It is difficult selling a completely original product, having to persuade and convince sponsors, government bodies, fans and audiences to pay to attend the show. But this is the job of a concert promoter. We exist to introduce people to new music and experiences.

All promoters and festival organisers in the south-east Asia (SEA) region are the main educators for agents, managers and artists. They have to understand the adversities we encounter when trying to organise a festival, concert or even a club show. The currency and government are prime examples of the difficulties we face, but we are passionate about music and events and fight hard in order to make SEA realise its maximum potential as an entertainment hub.

“The currency and government are prime examples of the difficulties we face, but we are passionate about music and events”

Nowadays, music is accessible on all platforms so finding all kinds of music is not hard, and has been a key factor in developing the musical tastes and knowledge of local audiences. Local acts have also been using these platforms to help people explore their sounds, and not just the music of international artists. This accessibility also helps local artists to develop and improve the quality of their work. We actively encourage these talents by giving them opportunities to play alongside well-known international acts in all our events. We aim to grow, nurture and promote international recognition by starting a division to develop these acts.

Visiting international festivals has led to local audiences wanting something similar, so SEA offers prime markets for new events. Among the few most popular music festivals to date are It’s the Ship, Future Music Festival Asia and Rockaway Festival.

If the Malaysian government continues to shut itself off from the potential of new music and experiences, the country is going to get left behind in the SEA region. If it continues to oppose certain genres of music, music entertainment in the country will lack variety. Currently, countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Philippines are at the forefront of the touring market and there is connectivity between all these markets thanks to low-cost airlines and trains that Malaysians can easily take to another country in order to experience what their own country lacks.

When Future Music Festival Asia was at its peak, it grossed RM180 million from tourist expenditure alone in the month of March. We hope to further promote Malaysia as an entertainment hub for tourists and for that to happen, we’ll have to work harder and more closely with the government and relevant authority bodies to educate them on the potential of the music events industry in order to grow Malaysia into the main touring market in SEA.


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