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Twickets reveals next steps after record quarter

Twickets founder Richard Davies has revealed to IQ that the company’s revenues from international territories have doubled from pre-pandemic levels.

The face value or less fan-to-fan resale site is coming off its best-ever quarter in the midst of a huge summer for live music in the UK. In excess of 300,000 tickets were listed on the platform from May to July, with gross revenue up 140% compared to the same three months in 2019, with single tickets making up 40% of sales.

According to the firm, 74% of ticket sales now come in the first 48 hours post-listing, while two-thirds of tickets sold are within a week of the event itself.

“Post-pandemic there’s been a very positive impact on resale activity, as reflected in our recent results,” Davies tells IQ. “With so many more events scheduled –and rescheduled – coupled with fans changing their own plans, we’ve seen a real surge in trading.

“With the majority of tickets listed on secondary platforms coming from ‘brokers’, fans have come down on the side of our ethical approach to resale.”

The company says that 1.5 million unique users visited the Twickets platform during the three-month period, while a record 18,500 alerts were set up for the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert, which takes place at Wembley Stadium on 27 September. Twickets is the benefit show’s official resale partner and will be donating its fee from the event.

“Growth has been particularly strong in mainland Europe”

Established in 2011, the London-headquartered company works with more than 300 live entertainment partners in the UK including venues, artists, promoters, festivals and ticketing companies, and confirmed a link-up with the UK’s Music Venue Trust earlier this year, with a number of significant new partnerships to be announced soon.

Backed by several high-profile managers, agents and promoters, Twickets also has local operations in the US, Spain and Australia, with further overseas expansion plans on the horizon.

“Revenue from international territories has doubled since pre-pandemic levels, and growth has been particularly strong in mainland Europe,” says Davies. “As a result, we’re now focused on building a local Twickets team in key territories there, notably Germany and France.”

The firm, which has previously partnered on tours by artists such as Adele and Ed Sheeran, used the downtime inadvertently provided by Covid-19 to enhance its services.

“We invested a lot of time re-engineering our apps during lockdown, and have subsequently witnessed a large increase in adoption rate,” says Davies. “Over 70% of users now access Twickets through mobile.

“Furthermore, the introduction of an ‘events happening near you’ feature in the app has increased last minute purchases by those seeking inspiration for a local night out.”

 


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Resale marketplace Tixel targets further expansion

Australian ticket resale marketplace Tixel is targeting further international growth following a successful funding round and European launch.

Founded in 2018, the company’s partners include festivals such as Australia’s Beyond the Valley, the UK’s Boardmasters, End of the Road, 2000 Trees, Strawberry Fields, Dekmantel in the Netherlands and Sonus in Croatia, along with artists such as Tame Impala, and primary ticketing platforms Eventbrite, Eventix and Oztix.

“We are a global platform” Tixel CEO and co-founder Zac Leigh tells IQ. “Australia and New Zealand is where we started and that really set the foundations. Now we’re in the UK and Europe, and we also work with event organisers in the US. Anywhere there’s an event, we can help.”

A self-styled “honest resale marketplace”, Tixel verifies tickets in real-time to detect and reject fake tickets before they’re listed and create a fresh barcode for the new buyer. Prices are capped at 10% above face value, and Leigh stresses that the firm has a track record of reducing refund requests and no-shows.

“We believe that buying and selling tickets should always be safe, easy and honest,” he says. “We’re set up to make sure that fans have an amazing and safe experience from when they buy a ticket to when they walk in the gate.”

“Part of our technology is focused on the people putting on the show”

Product features include a customised backend for event organisers that provides actionable pricing and audience data, and proprietary dynamic waitlist technology that creates a real-time repository of interested buyers.

“Unfortunately, we still see a lot of people rock up to the gates with fake tickets. That’s a lost night and is pretty heart wrenching, so we’re trying to solve that problem,” notes Leigh. “But what makes us unique is that we have an organiser-centric mentality. Part of our technology is focused on the people putting on the show. We work directly with ticketing companies and event organisers to support them throughout the whole campaign and make sure they have an amazing experience as well.”

Tixel landed in the UK in late 2021, having raised A$1.5 million (€1m) last year in a funding round that included a number of leading concert businesses and music investors. Promoters Unified Music Group and I Oh You, labels Rose Avenue and Future Classic and investment firms Alberts and Galileo Ventures were among to participate.

“One of the big things for us was getting people on board who actually understand the problems faced and appreciate it from an industry perspective,” says Leigh. “Some of our investors are event organisers and can see the value that our platform can provide. That’s exciting in the sense that what we’re doing is obviously resonating – they obviously see the importance of having a strong resale marketplace and the value that we can provide.

“The market is pretty dynamic and we’re pumped at what the future has to hold. Global expansion is a big focus for us – the US is definitely on the radar – but positioning ourselves as being uniquely placed to be able to solve a lot of the problems in the post-Covid era is important. Things are changing and we see a lot of opportunity there.”

“Ticketing has been stuck in the past”

Tixel was recognised at last week’s Ticketing Business Awards at Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester, where it was presented with the Product Innovation Award for “a product or service that has uniquely transformed and improved the way ticketing entities do business”.

“Technology is slowly catching up,” adds Leigh. “Historically, ticketing has been stuck in the past and Covid acted as a catalyst in kickstarting this new wave of innovation, and I think that that’s going to continue.

“There are a whole lot of new promoters putting on events in new, creative ways and we’re happy to be a part of it, but I think there are going to be a lot of new problems that come up and a lot of new solutions moving forward: whether that be pricing, whether that be digital ticket capability, or whether that be understanding more about the audience, there are always opportunities to innovate and I think that we’re going to see a lot of the gaps filled.”

 


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Campaigners back landmark ticket resale ruling

Campaigners against ticket touting have backed the European Parliament’s decision to approve new laws strengthening regulation around online marketplaces, including ticket resale sites.

The landmark Digital Services Act (DSA), which was passed by 539 votes to 54, includes measures to ensure professional sellers are identifiable, prevent certain manipulative sales tactics, and require regular reporting to improve transparency for consumers.

Crucially, online marketplaces will now be required to obtain essential information about third party professional sellers before traders are allowed to list tickets on the platform.

Resale platforms must also make it clear throughout the buying process that the tickets listed are provided by a third party, while dark patterns – user interfaces designed in such a way as to trick users into making certain decisions, such as “pop-ups” or giving prominence to specific choices – will be banned.

“The introduction of the Digital Services Act is a key moment for the live events sector in the UK, as well as across Europe”

The development follows two years of lobbying by the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT), which culminated in arranging an open letter signed by more than 130 representatives from across Europe’s live sector, calling for the EU to introduce tougher laws to combat online ticket touting. However, FEAT argues the text could have gone further and will continue to campaign for tougher rules.

“The introduction of the Digital Services Act is a key moment for the live events sector in the UK, as well as across Europe,” says FEAT director Sam Shemtob. “The new legislation regulating online marketplaces will see EU countries catch up with the UK in terms of stricter rules for verifying professional sellers and making sure fans know who they’re buying from. This will directly impact all UK artists who tour Europe, as well as make it harder for UK touts to operate under the guise of anonymity on European ticket resale sites.”

“This is an important step towards increasing accountability and to prevent scams, which will contribute towards a healthier European touring industry”

The DSA will now go through the formal adoption procedures by the European Council before it is published in the EU Official Journal. It will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, and its provisions will mainly apply 15 months after entry into force or from 1 January 2024, whichever comes later.

Per Kviman, CEO of Versity Music and chair of the European Music Managers Alliance (EMMA), which represents 1,800 music managers in 10 European countries, adds: “EMMA is very pleased to see new rules which protect both artists and the ticket-buying public have been approved by the European Parliament. This is an important step towards increasing accountability and to prevent scams, which will contribute towards a healthier European touring industry.”

 


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Viagogo fined €23.5m in Italy for resale breach

Italy’s Communications Regulatory Authority AGCOM has fined Viagogo €23.5 million for breaking the country’s rules on secondary ticketing.

The decision, taken at an AGCOM Council meeting last week, followed an investigation by Italy’s financial crime enforcement agency the Guardia di Finanza, which found the secondary ticketing platform had listed tickets for 131 events at prices up to six or seven times above their face-value.

Events included concerts for artists such as Maneskin, Vasco Rossi, Sting, Green Day, Dua Lipa, Pearl Jam, Placebo, Cesare Cremonini, Paolo Conte and Andrea Bocelli.

An amendment to Italian legislation, introduced to Italy’s 2017 budget law to criminalise ticket touting, prevents tickets being sold for commercial purposes or for above face value.

“The authority highlights that the practice of secondary ticketing has the effect of inflating the prices of tickets, increasing the barriers for the access of consumers and Italian citizens to cultural events, also to the detriment of the community of artists, event organisers and primary retailers,” concludes AGCOM. “This is of particular relevance at an important time for the events sector to recover live, after the forced interruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Legislation across Europe – at both a national and EU basis – is catching up with ticket scalping”

AGCOM has given Viagogo seven days to remove the illegal listings from its site, and the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has spoken out in support of the authority’s ruling.

“This is a substantial fine for Viagogo, and a clear requirement to remove illegal listings within seven days,” says FEAT director Sam Shemtob.

“What is especially encouraging is the extensive investigation carried out by Italy’s financial crime enforcement agency working closely with the Italian regulator AGCOM. Legislation across Europe – at both a national and EU basis – is catching up with ticket scalping. If other enforcement authorities follow Italy’s example, the hope of a functional ticket resale market, with scalping largely relegated to the history books, could become a reality.”

A spokesperson for Viagogo responds: “We respect the decision of the AGCOM, however we are surprised by this fine because the Council of State has already raised ‘serious doubts’ that the law in question on secondary ticketing – and the related fines of AGCOM, including to Viagogo – are compatible with fundamental principles of EU Law on competition, free circulation of services and limitation of liability of pure intermediary platforms for illegal activity of its users.

“Indeed, Viagogo has already been held a ‘passive’ intermediary platform by the same Council of State in a previous final judgment, confirming that it does not sell the tickets and is not liable for the illegal sales of tickets carried out by the platform’s users. As a result, the Council of State has referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union to decide whether the law at issue and the AGCOM fines are valid and enforceable according to such EU principles.

“Viagogo trusts that these pending proceedings will confirm it is not responsible for the allegations raised by the AGCOM and all fines will be annulled.”

The course of action comes just over a month after Australia’s full federal court dismissed an appeal by Viagogo against a ruling that the platform had made misleading claims on its website relating to the reselling of concert and sports tickets.

 


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Australian court dismisses Viagogo appeal

Australia’s full federal court has dismissed an appeal by Viagogo against a ruling that the secondary ticketing platform had made misleading claims on its website relating to the reselling of concert and sports tickets.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) instigated legal proceedings against the company in 2017, alleging it had “made false or misleading representations, and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, regarding the price of tickets on its online platform by failing to disclose substantial fees”.

The federal court ruled in favour of the watchdog’s allegations in 2019, finding Viagogo in breach of consumer law, with Justice Stephen Burley noting its conduct was deliberate and that some of its misleading claims were made “on an industrial scale”.

The full court has now upheld the findings along with the AUS$7 million penalty imposed for the breaches of the Australian Consumer Law.

“This case was about bad behaviour by an international ticket reseller”

“This case was about bad behaviour by an international ticket reseller that deliberately misled thousands of Australian consumers about the price they would have to pay for tickets and falsely represented that those consumers were purchasing tickets from an official site,” says ACCC commissioner Liza Carver.

The full court upheld the finding made in 2019 that Viagogo had falsely represented that it was the ‘official’ seller of tickets to particular events. It also upheld the finding made by the primary judge that from 1 May 2017 to 26 June 2017, Viagogo’s website drew consumers in with a headline price but failed to sufficiently disclose additional fees or specify a single price for tickets, including a 27.6% booking fee which applied to most tickets.

“Businesses must clearly disclose if they charge additional, unavoidable fees on top of the advertised price”

“Viagogo misled music lovers, sporting fans and other consumers who were hoping to get tickets to a special event. Consumers were drawn in by a headline price and were often unaware of the significant fees charged by Viagogo until very late in the booking process when they were already invested in attending the event,” says Carver.

The full federal court stated that “had Viagogo made it clear that it was operating a ticket resale site, then there would have been no misapprehension by consumers”.

“Businesses must clearly disclose if they charge additional, unavoidable fees on top of the advertised price,” adds Carver.

The court also upheld previous orders made against Viagogo in relation to a compliance programme, publication orders and an injunction.

A spokesperson for Viagogo says: “Viagogo is disappointed with the federal court’s ruling, but we remain committed to continuing to provide choice for consumers to access tickets and attend events.

“The ruling concerns language used in some advertisements and the form of the Viagogo website around five years ago. It does not reflect our current ticketing platform and the many changes we have made to provide greater transparency for our customers.”

 


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FEAT welcomes tougher resale legislation

The Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has given a cautious welcome to the news that the EU has reached a provisional political agreement on the Digital Services Act (DSA), designed to ensure secondary ticketing marketplaces act responsibly.

The text was agreed on Saturday (23 April) in Brussels, after a marathon 16 hours of discussions between policy-makers.

The DSA contains is expected to include regulation meaning that ticket touts will only be able to list tickets after providing essential information, which marketplaces must make efforts to verify. Secondary marketplaces will also be obliged to conduct random checks for tickets sold illegally, while measures designed to panic buyers, such as pop-ups claiming several people are viewing the same ticket, will be banned.

Additionally, search engines such as Google are understood to face new responsibilities.

“We hope the new requirements for vetting traders and publishing basic information about the seller will enable fans and event organisers to make informed decisions”

“We cautiously welcome news of measures to be placed on secondary ticketing marketplaces to clean up the Wild West in which they have operated so far,” says FEAT director Sam Shemtob. “The devil will be in the detail, but we hope the new requirements for vetting traders and publishing basic information about the seller will enable fans and event organisers to make informed decisions.”

FEAT has spent two years engaging with the EU over the DSA, culminating in arranging an open letter signed by more than 130 representatives from across Europe’s live sector, calling for the EU to introduce tougher laws to combat online ticket touting.

The text of the DSA will need to be finalised at technical level, before both Parliament and Council give their formal approval. It will come into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal. Big Tech firms will then have four months to prepare for the rules, while companies with fewer than 45 million users will have 15 months or until 1 January 2024.

 


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Music Venue Trust confirms Twickets partnership

The UK’s Music Venue Trust (MVT) has confirmed a partnership with capped ticket resale marketplace Twickets.

Established in 2011, Twickets works with more than 300 live entertainment partners in the UK including venues, artists, promoters, festivals and ticketing companies.

“We are delighted to become a partner of MVT,” says Twickets founder Richard Davies. “This is a key development for us as it further embeds the business as the legitimate face of resale, working to bring fairness and transparency to event-goers everywhere.

“Our goal is always to improve the ticket buying experience”

“Our goal is always to improve the ticket buying experience, and we look forward to collaborating with all members of MVT to prevent blatant profiteering in the secondary ticket market, which not only harms fans but damages the industry as a whole.”

A charitable organisation, the MVT was founded in January 2014 to help protect, secure and improve music venues in the UK.

Mark Davyd, MVT founder and CEO, adds: “We are really pleased to welcome Twickets as one of MVT’s partners. Their mission to enable fans to resell tickets they can no longer use for the price they paid or less aligns well with MVT’s goals to keep tickets out of the hands of touts and in the hands of genuine grassroots gig going fans. Customers can buy from Twickets with the reassurance that they are supporting grassroots music venues across the UK.”

 


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TicketSwap grows international footprint

Price-capped ‘ethical’ ticket marketplace TicketSwap has expanded to new markets in Europe and Latin America.

The Amsterdam-headquartered firm is growing its international footprint by opening offices in London, Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Berlin, Stockholm and São Paulo, which will serve as its first Latin American base.

The company has also signed a multi-year deal with Sziget, the company behind Sziget Festival, to be the brand’s official resale partner until 2026. Other partners include Hellfest (France), LWE (UK), Bootshaus (Germany), Norbergfestival (Sweden), Entourage and Ingresse (Brazil).

“After the pandemic, fan behaviours are changing dramatically, and with over 750,000 people attending our events every year, it’s crucial for us to have an option for fans to safely sell their tickets to other authentic fans,” says Sziget CEO Tamás Kádár. “I’m convinced that the more we see event organisers supporting ethical fan resale sites, the quicker we can bring an end to ticket touts and help protect our fans.”

“We’ve focused on the business growth and expansion to new markets, while reinforcing our presence in existing markets”

The company, which launched in 2012 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, caps the resale price of tickets at 20% above face value.

Last year, TicketSwap raised $10 million in new funding from Amsterdam-based venture-capital firm Million Monkeys.

“Thanks to our first funding raised in June 2021, we’ve focused on the business growth and expansion to new markets, while reinforcing our presence in existing markets,” says Hans Ober, co-founder and CEO of TicketSwap, which counts 6.5 million users in 36 countries.

TicketSwap is also extending its partnership with Netherlands-based Tomorrowland promoter ID&T Group.

“We’re thrilled to support our partners in this crucial phase for their businesses,” adds Simon Aurik, CMO and CCO of TicketSwap. “Our 10th anniversary is also the perfect occasion for us to give back to the community and partners.”

 


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