Ticket sales soar past pre-pandemic levels
Top promoters and ticketing firms including DEAG, Dice, Event Genius and The Ticket Factory say that current ticket sales are even higher than pre-pandemic levels.
Event Genius, which serves more than 50 countries worldwide, says its ticket sales are outstripping 2019 levels by more than 25%.
“It’s been an incredibly strong and heartening start to 2022,” says the company’s CEO, Benjamin Leaver. “Demand for events is arguably at an all-time high, and we see lots of potential for growth this year which is immensely encouraging.
“We’re expecting 2022 and the next few years to become a landmark period for the events industries.”
According to an Event Genius customer survey conducted at the beginning of this year, fans are also digging a little deeper into their pockets for events.
“We’re expecting 2022 and the next few years to become a landmark period for the events industries”
“Such is the demand for events and experiences – both domestically and abroad – event-goers are now spending up to three times more on their domestic and international event trips than even pre-Covid levels,” Leaver says.
Dice, a UK-based mobile ticketing and discovery platform for live events and live streams, has also seen a replenished demand for live events since the pandemic.
“With the venues and festivals we can draw comparisons from, we’ve seen fan demand for live events higher than it was before the pandemic,” Andrew Foggin, global head of music at Dice, tells IQ. “The industry was in great shape before the pandemic, and it’s encouraging to see that it’s picking up where it left off.”
Foggin has witnessed a particularly strong demand for breakthrough artists such as PinkPantheress and Fred Again, each of which sold out multiple shows in minutes. “We’re generally seeing tickets selling out faster, with fans joining our Waiting List for sold-out shows in higher numbers than we’ve ever seen,” he says.
“We’re generally seeing tickets selling out faster”
Elsewhere, Berlin-based DEAG, whose core markets include Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Ireland and Denmark, has reported a 50-80% increase in ticket sales compared to pre-pandemic.
DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow says that family entertainment, concerts, and spoken word events are selling best at the moment, although he also explains that the dramatic increase is partly attributable to the company’s acquisition of six promoters during the pandemic.
“We are very much convinced we will see a record year, just by delivering the 5,000-plus shows we have on sale,” he recently told IQ.
Elsewhere, The Ticket Factory, one of the UK’s leading national ticketing agents, says its return to pre-pandemic levels of ticket sales is primarily driven by A-list artists.
“We are very much convinced we will see a record year”
“A busy schedule of major shows including the likes of Stormzy, Sam Fender and Little Mix, has certainly been one of the key drivers,” Richard Howle, director of ticketing at The Ticket Factory, tells IQ.
“But we’ve also been well aware that for many of our clients, 2022 is the first year since Covid where they’ll be able to run their usual annual events. So, not only are we feeling optimistic about the volume of current ticket sales – driven primarily by the A-list artists – but also our future pipeline with the return of several major events.”
The ticketing company, is owned by UK venue operator NEC Group and is the official box office for the NEC Birmingham as well as a ticket seller for many of the UK’s major music festivals.
“As the live events industry starts to feel more reminiscent of pre-pandemic times, we’re expecting more peaks than troughs this year – even bigger than what we’re experiencing right now,” adds Howle.
The Ticket Factory’s Richard Howle chairs the Ticketing: All change please! session at this year’s International Live Music Conference with guest speakers including Dice’s Amy Oldham, Ticketmaster’s Sarah Slater and others.
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Warnings over ‘digital divide’ as events restart
Campaigners in Europe, Asia and Australasia have warned that the move towards digital and mobile tickets for events, attractions and transport, which has been accelerated by the pandemic, risks broadening the ‘digital divide’ and excluding older people as life returns to its new normal.
Some event organisers and sports clubs have moved towards a digital-only model while coronavirus restrictions are in place, raising fears that those without access to the internet or a smartphone are being excluded as live events return.
“At the moment it seems that many businesses in the events and entertainment industry are requiring customers to book online or via a smartphone, which automatically rules out many older people,” says Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, the UK’s largest charity for older people, which revealed recently that nearly half of elderly people in England are still non-users of the internet, the figures “bust[ing] the myth that the pandemic has driven most older people online”.
“A policy of this kind therefore risks widening the digital divide,” Abrahams continues, “and reducing the opportunities for many older people to go out and enjoy socialising once again.”
Academic studies have also shown how barriers to using the internet affect younger people who have disabilities: a 2017 study in Poland demonstrated “a significant digital divide” between the disabled and able-bodied population, while a 2021 paper showed multiple ‘disability divides’ in Sweden.
In the UK, the Audience Access Alliance recently published a ten-point reopening checklist for event organisers to make sure their shows are accessible to all when concerts restart. Point #3 is that if tickets on sale, they should be accessible to deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people. Writing for IQ last month, Attitude is Everything’s Suzanne Bull said she knows “of at least ten events that have gone live selling tickets without having staffed access booking services”.
“While we understand the need for event venues to prioritise infection control, we also think they need to ensure they are being genuinely inclusive”
The growing digital divide has led to some countries investing in initiatives to help their citizens feel more confident about buying digital tickets and services.
In Australia, a A$20 million (US$15m) government-funded programme, delivered by UK-based charity Good Things Foundation, is offering free workshops on digital skills for over-50s. “Unless people have the confidence to use digital, they are going to be left behind,” says national director Jess Wilson.
Another group, Cultural Diversity Network, is working with Good Things Foundation to reach migrants, asylum seekers and ethnic minorities. “Our participants come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and while they came here on skilled migration and are educated, they are not that skilled in technology information,” says the organisation’s president, Sabrin Farooqui, who says its workshops held participants become confident using social media, Zoom, booking tickets and online shopping.
Other countries putting public money into bridging the digital divide are China and South Korea, with the latter opening 1,000 digital education centres are part of the government’s ‘digital new deal’ programme.
For Age UK, which is also campaigning for older customers to be able to continue to make payments in cash, events must continue to offer physical tickets in order to be inclusive to people of all ages.
“While we fully understand the need for event venues like Wimbledon” – the tennis tournament whose ticket ballot was this year online only, and which prohibits the transferring of tickets to non-online friends and relatives – “to prioritise infection control, we also think they need to ensure they are being genuinely inclusive,” says Abrahams. And that means offering an easily accessible offline booking option as well.”
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Rewind’s Paul Carey joins TicketCo
Cloud-based events payment platform TicketCo has appointed Paul Carey, formerly general manager of ’80s festival Rewind, as key account manager in the UK.
Carey, who has also worked as a publicist for artists including Elton John, David Bowie and the Who, is charged with driving growth in Norway-based TicketCo’s UK festival division.
TicketCo launched in the UK last year and has since secured clients including Coalition Agency, Ministry of Sound, Tobacco Dock, Junkyard Golf and several sports teams. The company also has offices in Poland and Sweden.
Carey comments: “I’m joining TicketCo at an exciting time; the company is making excellent progress in taking the UK ticketing and event payments market into the new digital world.
“There is so much scope to drive positive change in the festival industry”
“There is so much scope to drive positive change in the festival industry and TicketCo will continue to be one of the frontrunners of the digital disruption in the coming years.”
TicketCo’s technology is compatible with Android and iOS devices and enables organisers to push offers on food, drink and merchandise in advance of events. The system can also send QR codes to eventgoers’ smartphones, which are then scanned at entry points to gain access.
David Kenny, TicketCo UK country manager, says: “Paul is a fantastic addition to our growing team of industry experts. His track record in the festival and music industries is incredible and we believe he will make a real impact in this space with TicketCo.”
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2020 and Beyond: How ticketing will revolutionise the entertainment experience
You are looking to buy a ticket to an interesting event for the upcoming weekend. Instead of navigating to your browser, you ask Siri or Alexa, “What’s happening this weekend in town? What are my friends and family doing?”
Within milliseconds, your AI assistant searches the internet for the events that seem most appealing to your interests and that appear in your family and friend’s social media feeds. Your AI assistant responds asking you follow-up questions on your desired experience and budget.
Once you have found the perfect event, you give your AI assistant the go-ahead to buy the tickets. Almost immediately, your tickets are purchased, verified and readily available in your mobile wallet. This transaction was likely processed through a mobile payments solution and automatically added to your calendar. Your AI assistant asks if you would like to invite friends, because if they also attend the event, the brand offers you an incentive.
The day of the event is here. When you get within a geofenced area of the event location, you receive a notification asking if you would like an augmented-reality tour guide to assist you to your gate of entry and seats. As you approach entry to the event, your face is scanned to verify your identity and your radio-frequency identification (RFID) or mobile phone ticket is checked-in in a near frictionless entry point.
A ticket is not just a piece of paper, but the direct connection between a person and an experience
Once you enter, your phone becomes a second-screen experience, providing your choice of merchandise, food ordering, artist or athlete information, game statistics and live betting experiences. When you arrive at your seat your food and drink order is waiting for you and you settle in for a great time.
This glimpse into the near-future is closer than it might seem. All of the referenced technology already exists. The next step is bridging the gap between the intersection of the experience, technology and human behaviour.
A ticket is not just a piece of paper, but the direct connection between a person and an experience. It is also the core mechanism for how organisations will gather data to better engage with you and provide offers you will find interesting.
The smartest organisations invest not only in technology, but also commit to securing the treasure trove of data on their users. Piecing these together will be the key to continually providing users with great experiences in a world of increasing entertainment options.
Mark Miller is the co-founder and chief executive of TicketSocket, a white-label ticketing and registration service for venues and events.
Dice launches in Italy with promoter, venue partnerships
Dice, the UK-based mobile ticketing and music discovery platform, has expanded into Italy, adding a Milan office and an exclusive partnership with concert/festival promoter Radar Concerti.
The company, which also has a presence in France, the US and Australia, kicks off its Italian music offering powering Ricardo Villalobos’ show at Magazzini Generali later this month and FKA Twigs at Fabrique this November.
In addition to its deal with Radar Concerti, one of Italy’s leading independent promoters, Dice has agreed exclusive partnerships with two Milan venues: Magazzini Generali, a 3,000-capacity former warehouse space, and Arci Ohibò, a bar and nightclub.
Russ Tannen, chief revenue officer of Dice, comments: “We’re on a mission to get people out more, and that means making ticketing fairer and helping fans discover amazing shows. Dice was founded to fix a broken ticketing system. We decided to offer an alternative: building a tout-beating platform with only fans in mind.
“Dice is already working in Italy – since we went on sale exclusively with FKA Twigs in Milan, not one single ticket has ended up on a secondary ticketing site.”
“Since we went on sale exclusively with FKA Twigs in Milan, not one single ticket has ended up on a secondary ticketing site”
With the exception of those who resell tickets on “an occasional and non-commercial basis”, it has been illegal to resell tickets for a profit in Italy since March 2018, with the Italian Communications Authority (AGCOM) empowered to go after offenders and even shut down websites which continually break the law. The restrictions followed a previous, ultimately abandoned, attempt to crack down on ticket touting (bagarinaggio), spearheaded former culture minister Dario Franceschini, in late 2016.
Touting, however, remains an issue, and local operators have continually called for AGCOM to enforce the new regulations. Stefano Lionetti, CEO of CTS Eventim’s TicketOne, noted earlier this year that “there are still three clearly identifiable sites [Viagogo, StubHub/Ticketbis and MyWayTicket] that continue to speculate on the resale of tickets”.
Commenting on his company’s partnership with Dice, Radar Concerti’s Giorgio Riccitelli says: “By working only with Dice, we’re protecting our fans with secure, mobile tickets that don’t end up on secondary ticketing sites.
“However, it isn’t just a ticketing platform – Dice helps fans discover new events and music, helping us propel our events to a new, wider, and engaged audience. We’re thrilled to be working with a company that places fans at the heart of everything it does.”
TM UK records biggest weekend for digital tickets
The long weekend of 12–14 July was one of the biggest in recent memory for the Ticketmaster UK team, with more digital tickets processed at greenfield sites than at any time since the technology’s introduction.
A third of tickets at Trnsmt in Glasgow (Friday 12–Sunday 14 July) were mobile-only, and 100% of Ticketmaster tickets at Lovebox (12–13 July) and Citadel (14 July), held in Gunnersbury Park, London, were delivered to fans’ mobile phones.
Festivalgoers were reminded in advance to download tickets using the TM mobile app; for those that didn’t, wifi hotspots were set up in the queue so getting into the festival was as quick as possible.
A transfer function, meanwhile, enabled fans to pass tickets to the phones of other people in their party – every person needed their own individual downloaded ticket – meaning Ticketmaster and the festivals knew every person entering the site (rather than just the buyer), reducing ticket fraud while increasing in- and post-event marketing potential.
“Our team scanned more mobile tickets than ever before at events across the UK last weekend, with 100% of tickets at Lovebox and Citadel delivered to fan’s mobiles,” explains Andrew Parsons, managing director of Ticketmaster UK.
“It was a fantastic outcome for us and, most importantly, the fans”
“What we saw was the fast and frictionless entry of fans into the shows they love, along with a significant reduction in ticket fraud. A further benefit of mobile tickets is that we now know the individual attendees who walked through the festival gates, so we’ve increased our marketing potential even further.
“We’re in the business of happy fans, and it’s clear from a very successful weekend that mobile is the way forward.”
Rory Bett, CEO of Lovebox and Citadel promoter MAMA, adds: “This was our first foray into using mobile tickets at Lovebox and Citadel and we’re pleased to say it was huge success. It was one of the most effortless experiences we’ve had getting fans on site, and quick, too.
“Together with the Ticketmaster team it was a fantastic outcome for us and, most importantly, the fans. We’re now looking ahead to the rest of the festival season and beyond.”
Ticketmaster began rolling out SafeTix, its new anti-counterfeiting technology for digital tickets, in North America earlier this year.
Event space Tobacco Dock partners with Norway’s TicketCo
Attendees of events held in Tobacco Dock, a grade-one listed building and premier events venue in London, can now buy tickets and make event payments using TicketCo technology.
TicketCo’s mobile platform offers users an easy-to-use ticketing solution, as well as giving venues the opportunity to promote offers on food, drink and merchandise.
The Norwegian ticketing and events payment company launched in the UK early last year. Tobacco Dock is the latest addition to the company’s UK partners, which include Junkyard Golf Club and Woking Football Club.
“It’s a great step forward for TicketCo in the UK to be affiliated with such a massive player,” says TicketCo UK country manager, David Kenny. “We are very confident that the organisers Tobacco Dock attract will see the upside of utilising our future-proof ticketing and payments solution.”
“It’s a great step forward for TicketCo in the UK to be affiliated with such a massive player”
The TicketCo system issues users a single QR code which serves as the only ticket needed for any event attended through the platform. This simple, unified approach is especially compatible with Tobacco Dock, a venue which hosts over 190 events annually across 50+ event spaces, says TicketCo.
The commercial director of Tobacco Dock, Jonathan Read, highlights this compatibility: “We’re very much looking forward to working with TicketCo. Their entrepreneurial and innovative outlook mirrors our own, making them the perfect fit for Tobacco Dock and its clients.”
Dice launches in France
Following last year’s launch in the US, UK-born mobile ticketing platform Dice has expanded into France.
Launch partners are le Consulat (pictured), a Paris club and creative hub, and Pop-Up du Label, a 200-capacity Paris bar/venue and home of the Pete the Monkey festival. A Dice spokesperson tells IQ the company has a dedicated French team who are additionally spearheading partnerships with other promoters and venues.
Phil Hutcheon, CEO of Dice, says: “We’re so excited about launching in Paris. We’ve been working on this for a while to make sure it’s perfect for Parisians.
“We’re delighted to be one of the first venues using Dice’s mobile-only tickets, and we’re sure there’ll be plenty more to follow”
“The live scene is huge and we’re so honoured to work with some of the most influential players in the world.”
“The live music scene is nothing without the fans, which is why we’ve taken another step to make their gig experience as epic as possible,” a Pop Up du Label spokesperson adds. “We’re delighted to be one of the first venues using Dice’s mobile-only tickets, and we’re sure there’ll be plenty more to follow.”
Upcoming shows on the Dice France app include King Princess, Death Grips, Khruangbin, Anna Calvi and Justice.
Troxy becomes “world’s biggest mobile-only venue”
East London’s Troxy has agreed a ticketing deal with Dice, in a partnership the mobile ticket seller says makes it the “world’s biggest mobile-only venue”.
The 3,100-capacity venue, on Commercial Road in Stepney, follows Scala in King’s Cross and Islington Assembly in going mobile with Dice, whose app ties tickets to the mobile device from which they were bought, making unauthorised resale impossible.
Tom Sutton-Roberts, the Troxy’s GM, says: “We may be one of London’s oldest independent venues but we’re proud to say that we’re still standing strong. Teaming up with Dice showcases a new chapter for us.
“As the world’s biggest mobile-only venue, we’re embracing innovative technology that favours fans and artists to bring spectacular performances to our stage.”
Russ Tannen, UK managing director of Dice, adds: “We have to beat the touts. Troxy joining the Dice family is a big win for fans who won’t be seeing inflated prices at this iconic venue.”
TM goes fully mobile for £5 Four Tet shows
Marking the first major UK deployment of its new mobile platform, Ticketmaster has partnered with Four Tet and promoter Eat Your Own Ears to power ticketing for the acclaimed British DJ’s return to Brixton Academy this autumn.
Four Tet – real name Kieran Hebden – announced yesterday that his traditional autumn all-nighters, preceded by two live shows, would return to the 4,921-capacity O2 Academy Brixton from 10 to 13 October. With tickets for all four nights priced at just £5, Ticketmaster is combining 100% digital ticketing with its Verified Fan technology – which uses “algorithms and unique data analysis” to weed out bad actors, such as ticket touts and bots, from the presale – to ensure all tickets get into the hands of “genuine fans” at the price intended.
The Four Tet shows, says Ticketmaster UK MD Andrew Parsons, are intended to be “a celebration, a party, with the artist giving back to the audience – and the pricing fits with that ethos. So for us, it was about how best to be able to deliver that.”
“Kieran, aka Four Tet, was inspired by a Fugazi show he went to in 1995 at Brixton Academy and paid £5,” says Eat Your Own Ears’ Tom Baker, commenting on the inspiration for the event. “They played with all the house lights on and Kieran wanted to replicate this. I said, perhaps at 4.33am people won’t want to be staring each other in the face with bright lights glaring into their faces, so why don’t we do the £5 ticket at Brixton Academy club shows in the dark…”
“We’ve worked with Tom for as long as I can remember, and this string of shows at Brixton Academy is just another example of their innovative approach,” adds Parsons. “We’ve both got the same goal here – to get fans in the door at £5 – and I’m pleased to say Ticketmaster has the technology to do just that. ”
“The future is definitely digital”
Contrary to much of the non-industry media’s coverage of Verified Fan – most notably around the onsale for Taylor Swift’s Reputation stadium tour last summer, which allowed fans to boost their chance of a ticket by buying albums or merch – the system is, “at its essence, the invitation [to buy tickets], the presale and the weeding out of bad actors,” Parsons tells IQ. While Swift-style boosts may be built into the platform, they aren’t a requirement, he says: “It’s about making sure we go on sale on sale with a clean list and ensure we are selling directly to fans.”
It’s still “comparatively early” days for Verified Fan in the UK, Parsons continues, though TM has already seen success with the platform for several high-profile club shows, including Harry Styles and Jack White at the Eventim Apollo in London.
The second, and arguably more important, aspect for the Four Tet dates is the mobile one: All tickets are digital and – similarly to platforms such as Dice – are tied to the mobile device from which they’re purchased, making resale for profit impossible. (They can, however, be transferred to a friend using the buyer’s Ticketmaster account.)
“It’s something we’ve been building up to for a while,” continues Parsons, who says the new mobile ticketing functionality is part of a “whole host of changes” the company has been making to its core product over the past 18 months, including a more editorially focused homepage, a new responsive check-out process and – most significantly – folding all ticket resale into Ticketmaster proper, following the shutdown of Get Me In! and Seatwave.
“There’s a huge opportunity in tying tickets to mobiles and taking away those little pieces of paper,” he adds. “Fans are ready for it, artists and promoters are fully on board… It’s really going to be ramping up in the coming months.”
“There’s a huge opportunity in tying tickets to mobiles and taking away those little pieces of paper”
As for the multi-step process of becoming a ‘verified fan’, is Ticketmaster worried it’s becoming too difficult to simply log on and buy a ticket for a show? “Everything we do is about balance,” suggests Parsons. “All the work we’ve done with Verified Fan so far shows we can do it in a very slick way – with artist engagement, we can spread the net as wide as possible – and if you speak to fans about whether or not it’s a good thing, they’re very supportive of it.
“The fans really appreciate the artist going the extra mile.”
“I think the future is definitely digital,” adds Baker. “Everyone uses their phones now for almost everything they do, and that will just get more and more easy as venues and promoters and ticket agents all embrace this technology. I think it makes it so much smoother for all involved, and cuts out touts, with the money going to the artists – and fans aren’t unfairly paying over-inflated prices.
“It’s a win win for everyone and I’ll certainly be looking to use both Verified Fan and digital ticketing for more and more Eat Your Own Ears shows.”