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SJM Concerts partners with Twickets

Twickets has been appointed the official resale partner of SJM Concerts’ Gigs and Tours.

The partnership with SJM, one of the UK’s leading concert promoters, will provide a fan-friendly resale option for all tickets purchased through Gigsandtours.com, allowing users to list tickets for sale via Twickets’ website or mobile app at no more than the price originally paid.

Launched in 2016, Twickets has since served as the official resale platform for leading artists including Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons and Elton John. It now attracts more than three million users to its ticket marketplace every year.

“Providing a safe, secure and easy way to resell tickets is best practice”

“We continue to strive to not only offer our customers an efficient and straightforward purchasing experience, but also help them when things don’t go to plan,” explains SJM Concerts’ Matt Woolliscroft. “Providing a safe, secure and easy way to resell tickets is best practice and yet another step Gigsandtours.com is taking to innovate and improve concertgoing.”

Twickets founder Richard Davies says: “The UK is in the midst of a market shift away from rip-off secondary ticketing platforms and towards consumer-friendly resale services. I am proud Twickets is at the forefront of this change, and delighted we can bring our expertise in resale to such an important player in the UK music scene. Our goal is always to improve the ticket buying experience, fill venues and keep customers happy.”

 


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Promoters buy into Oz ticket marketplace Tixel

Australian ticket marketplace Tixel has raised A$1.5m ($1.2m) in a funding round that includes 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 are among those who participated in the round, with Alberts CEO David Albert also set to join Tixel’s board of directors.

The funding will be put towards growing the Tixel platform and expand its product suite for event organisers, the Melbourne-based company says.

Launched in 2018, Tixel offers a ‘fair-price’ marketplace (capped at 10% above face value) for fans to buy and sell tickets to events. Most of the company’s inventory is currently in Australia and New Zealand, though it expects growth in the UK and US as in-person events return outside Australasia.

“The entire music and live entertainment industry has suffered beyond measure this last year, and our team is incredibly grateful to have been able to weather the storm,” says Zac Leigh, co-founder and CEO of Tixel. “We’re feeling optimistic about the steep uptick in demand we’re seeing on Tixel from fans wanting to see their favourite musicians, artists, comedians and sports stars.

“Our investment partners … know that a safe and honest place for fans to buy and to resell tickets is a critical need”

“Our investment partners share this optimism and know that a safe and honest place for fans to buy and to resell tickets is a critical need both today, as our plan-making remains fluid, and into the future.”

“At the heart of every investment we make is the goal to back pioneers who share our vision for a better tomorrow,” comments Albert. “A core pillar of our impact thesis is contributing to a vibrant culture. Tixel is a great example of this and sits within our arts, music and entertainment theme. It helps to bring fairness to a market that can attract exorbitant pricing, and safety to transactions that have the potential to be fraudulent.

“Having an independent ethical ticket resale marketplace in Australia can mean more fans at shows, more bar and merch sales for our venues and, importantly, an all-round better experience for everyone involved.”

Other capped-price ticket resale services active in Australia include UK-based Twickets, which launched there in 2017, and Ticketek Marketplace, which allows Ticketek customers to resell unwanted tickets.

 


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TicketSwap expands network with Portugal’s Boom

Amsterdam-based resale platform TicketSwap has announced a partnership with long-running festival, Boom.

The partnership includes integration with their ticketing company Weezevent, which allows TicketSwap to void a sold ticket and instead issue new tickets to buyers.

This Secure Swap integration ensures that fans can buy and sell quickly and easily, while providing visibility to the festival organiser.

The partnership with Boom marks TicketSwap’s first foray into Portugal and follows recent launches in Italy and Brazil.

“It’s great to have such a prominent partner for Portugal as we continue on our mission to be the experience platform that every fan loves”

“We are delighted to be working with Boom Festival,” says TicketSwap CEO Hans Ober. “The event is spectacular and people travel from all over the world to be there. We are very pleased to provide a safe and transparent way for fans to sell their tickets at a fair price.”

“TicketSwap have been expanding at a pace. We have set up an office in Brazil, launched in Italy, and we’re hiring our first local staff in the UK, Sweden, and Germany. It’s great to have such a prominent partner for Portugal as we continue on our mission to be the experience platform that every fan loves.”

The 25th edition of Boom festival will take place on 22–29th June 2022.

The event, which takes place every two years, has been ‘exceptionally popular’ on TicketSwap, with nearly 4,000 people registering for tickets and almost 500 tickets sold in the first three days.

 


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Viagogo fined for breaking Italian anti-touting law

An Italian court has rejected an appeal by Viagogo against a €3.7 million fine for hosting listings for tickets sold in contravention of Italian law.

The judgment, handed down by the regional administrative court (TAR) of Lazio (Latium) on 2 April, upholds a 2020 ruling in favour of the Italian Communications Authority (AGCOM), which brought legal action against the secondary ticketing site for listing tickets to 37 events at above face value between March and July 2019.

Ticket touting is effectively illegal in Italy under the country’s 2017 budget law, which states that tickets to entertainment events may only be sold by authorised retailers. Consumers are permitted to sell unwanted tickets only for a price equal to, or less than, their original face value.

The judges rejected Viagogo’s argument that it was acting merely as a “passive hosting provider” connecting resellers with potential buyers, which would exempt the resale platform from liability under Italian law. Instead, Viagogo was found to provide a range of services and promote and advertise tickets in a way that could not be considered to be carried out without any awareness or control on its part.

“The service provided by Viagogo […] does not have the characteristics of passive hosting,” the court concluded, “given that it clearly does not consist merely of the ‘storage of information’ but rather optimisation, advertising and promotion of the tickets on sale.”

“Uncapped secondary marketplaces … have long been shielding under the liability exemption offered by EU law”

“Nor has the appellant in any way substantiated the claim that such complex activities would be carried out by the platform in a completely automatic manner and without any awareness and/or possibility of control on its part,” adds the ruling.

Additionally, even if Viagogo had qualified as a ‘passive hosting provider’, it would still not have benefited from the liability exemption afforded by the law as it did not act quickly to remove or disable access to the listings once notified by authorities, according to the court.

The ruling follows similar decisions in both Italy (Mediaset v. Yahoo) and the European Court (L’Oréal v. eBay, Google v. Louis Vuitton) which have held websites responsible for the content ‘passively’ hosted on their platforms.

“Uncapped secondary marketplaces such as Viagogo have long been shielding under the liability exemption offered by EU law by claiming to have little to no knowledge of the activity taking place on their sites,” comments Sam Shemtob, director of the Face-Value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT).

“It is time that they’re held responsible for the illegal activity they promote and profit from, both in Italy and across Europe.”

 


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Ireland approves for-profit ticket touting ban

The re-selling of tickets to large events such as festivals or concerts at above face value will finally be outlawed in the Republic of Ireland.

Under the act, a person found guilty of an offence will face a fine of up to €100,000 or up to two years’ imprisonment.

The anti-ticket touting legislation was approved yesterday (20 April) by the cabinet, years after the initial private members’ bill was proposed in 2017 by MPs Noel Rock and Stephen Donnelly.

The 2017 bill won the backing of the previous Irish government in 2018 and was then brought forward in October 2020 by the deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar but only now will it be published.

The bill will be introduced to Dáil Éireann, the lower house, at the earliest opportunity, and enacted as early as possible thereafter.

Once the legislation is passed, operators of venues with a capacity of at least 1,000 will be able to apply to the department of enterprise, trade and employment for ‘designation’ which will prohibit the for-profit reselling of tickets for that venue.

Event organisers or venue operators may also apply for the designation of events that take place on an annual or periodic basis in the same venue, such as a festival.

“This bill will stop opportunists enriching themselves at the expense of fans, artists and promoters”

According to the legislation, when a ticket is sold for an event that has been designated or which is to take place in a designated venue, the original seller must be given clear information (with the ticket and when advertising) that tickets cannot be resold above face value for the event in question.

Resellers of these tickets must also provide information on the original sale price of the ticket and the location of the seat or standing area to which the ticket entitles the holder to gain admission, according to the legislation.

The new bill does not address airline-style ‘dynamic pricing’ or ticket bundles, the department of trade confirmed to Hot Press.

“This bill will stop opportunists with no interest or involvement in music or sport enriching themselves at the expense of sports and music fans, sporting bodies, artists and promoters,” says minister of state at the department of enterprise, trade and employment, Robert Troy.

“And importantly, fans will have all the information they need to ensure they are not being ripped off. I recognise that sometimes there are justified reasons for reselling tickets above face value, for example, when charities are fund-raising, so allowances have been made in such instances.”

Deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, says: “We’re all looking forward to the day we can go to gigs, festivals and matches again. This law gives me hope. We’re planning for a time when live events are possible again. Numbers will likely be restricted to begin with so it’s even more important that people aren’t ripped off and that tickets go to real fans.”

 


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Viagogo CH ‘selling tickets to cancelled shows’

Switzerland’s Consumer Protection Foundation is taking legal action against Viagogo for allegedly selling tickets to events it is clear will not go ahead.

The secondary ticketing marketplace, which is headquartered in Geneva, has taken advantage of “the chaos of uncoordinated, pandemic-related lockdowns” across the world to “systematically” sell tickets for events that it knows will not take place, alleges the Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz of German-speaking Switzerland.

To test its theory, in mid-January Stiftung bought two tickets from Viagogo: One for a comedy show by Stéphanie Berger at the Kofmehl venue in Solothurn and another for a “concert by two Dutch musicians” in Amsterdam, taking place in mid-February and mid-March, respectively. Both events had already been cancelled at the time of the ticket purchase.

Viagogo denies the charges, saying in a statement that if tickets for cancelled events are offered for sale, “it is a mistake”. Anyone who has purchased tickets for a cancelled show is entitled to a full refund, the company adds.

“From our point of view, this is a fraudulent business model”

Announcing the filing of a criminal complaint, the Consumer Protection Foundation claims Viagogo is “shamelessly exploiting” confusion over country-specific restrictions on live events. “Consumers can hardly check whether these are actually taking place due to local requirements, especially at events abroad,” it says in a statement.

Sara Stalder (pictured), the foundation’s managing director, says that by selling tickets for events that are not taking place, Viagogo has violated Swiss legislation against unfair competition. “This law says that a company may not offer products that are not in stock,” she explains. “From our point of view, this is a fraudulent business model – and we are curious to see what the judiciary will say about it.”

Writing for IQ last month, Adam Webb of anti-ticket touting group FanFair Alliance discussed media reports in the UK that alleged Viagogo is reliant on speculative selling, and that much of the ticket inventory on the site “doesn’t actually exist”. Viagogo disputes the claims, saying it has “has strict measures in place to ensure the accuracy and compliance of listings and to prevent fraudulent selling”.

 


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Austrian court finds against Viagogo T&Cs

In a probe into Viagogo’s terms and conditions, the supreme court of Austria has found more than 40 clauses of the secondary ticket site’s general terms for buyers and sellers are illegal.

Finding in favour of VKI, the Austrian Consumers’ Association, the Supreme Court of Justice (Oberster Gerichtshof, OGH) ruled that 42 clauses of the site’s general T&Cs, including provisions on refunds, replacement tickets and the supremacy of Swiss law, are unlawful in Austria.

Notable clauses deemed illegal in the OGH ruling include:

“We hope the OGH’s decision encourages other jurisdictions to ensure that their consumers are equally protected”

According to anti-touting group FEAT (Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing), Viagogo will legally be required have to amend all 42 clauses, both for viagogo.at and for Austrian consumers accessing the site via viagogo.com.

“For a platform that claims to serve fans, the level of protection that Viagogo offers its users, as brought to light in this ruling, is shocking,” comments FEAT campaign lead Katie O’Leary. “We welcome the OGH’s decision and hope that it encourages other jurisdictions to ensure that their consumers are equally protected.”

In May, the OGH ruled that Viagogo and other secondary ticketing sites must disclose the identity of ticket sellers, including name and address, and whether tickets are personalised ahead of ticket purchase.

 


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FEAT publishes new Stop Touting guide

Anti-touting group the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has published a guide showing how agents and promoters can stamp out unauthorised resale with personalised tickets.

Launched by MCT-Agentur CEO and FEAT director Scumeck Sabottka, Stop Touting: A Guide to Personalised Tickets in Europe includes a straightforward, step-by-step guide on how to implement a tout-proof personalised ticketing system without creating long entry queues.

It shows how ticket personalisation can be done successfully and straightforwardly, without risking long entry queues or putting one’s reputation as an agent or promoter on the line,

Stop Touting also surveys the secondary ticketing landscape across Europe, including:

“This guide uses our experience of ticket personalisation, gleaned from multiple tours and arena shows, to show it can be done straightforwardly and successfully,” explains promoter Sabottka.

“We hope to make things a little easier for artists, managers, agents and promoters who want to do the right thing”

“My hope is that the live business will use this pandemic-induced standstill to improve the way we sell tickets, and protect artists, fans and our own businesses from these ticket-touting vampires.”

Adds Nicole Jacobsen, managing director and co-owner of Germany’s Tickets.de: “Personalised ticketing is all about protecting fans from scalpers. I really hope this guide can begin to give the live sector the confidence it needs to make personalised ticketing part of its practice.”

According to Intellectual Research Partners, the secondary ticketing market in Europe was valued at €1.66 billion in 2020, despite the impact of the pandemic, and is expected to grow to €2.29 by 2023.

“Navigating the various markets across Europe, with different ticket laws in different states, can be difficult,” comments FEAT director Sam Shemtob. “With this guide, we hope to make things a little easier for artists, managers, agents and promoters who want to do the right thing.”

To download the free Stop Touting guide, visit the FEAT website.

 


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Viagogo offers to sell parts of StubHub in merger bid

Viagogo is offering to sell StubHub’s resale business outside of North America in a bid to address concerns expressed by the UK’s competition watchdog which has provisionally halted the $4 billion (£3bn) merger.

UK watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), recently found that the acquisition of StubHub by Viagogo will reduce competition in an “already very concentrated market”, throwing into doubt the fate of the already completed deal in the UK.

Now, Viagogo is proposing the sale of StubHub’s holding company, which operates all of its international primary and secondary businesses, including its UK operations, in a bid to address the CMA’s concerns – though the deal would see Viagogo retain StubHub’s much larger US and Canadian ticket resale business.

“There are some glaring concerns with their reported proposal, which appears to suggest a three-year lease not an outright sale”

Under the sale, the buyer of StubHub’s operations would receive customer and transaction data in the UK and beyond as well as the Spain-based Ticketbis, which was sold to StubHub in 2016 for a reported €165m.

The proposal also states that the buyer would be allowed to use the StubHub UK brand for three years, followed by a year-long “blackout” where neither the buyer nor Viagogo could use the StubHub brand in Britain.

Adam Webb, campaign manager for anti-ticket touting group FanFair Alliance, told IQ: “Viagogo is a discredited business that’s been at the heart of a major ticket mis-selling scandal, ripping off UK audiences to the tune of millions. The operators of this platform cannot be trusted. Even on initial glance, there are some glaring concerns with their reported proposal, which appears to suggest a three-year lease of StubHub UK’s business – not an outright sale. We have already raised these concerns with the CMA.”

While a Viagogo spokesperson says: “We look forward to working with the CMA to deliver a comprehensive solution which addresses their concerns and we believe this proposal would achieve that.”

 


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Google sued in France for advertising resold tickets

A court in Paris has prohibited Google from selling keywords to advertisers, including Viagogo and StubHub, which (re)sell tickets without the promoter’s permission.

Ruling in favour of French live music association Prodiss, which brought the case against Google France and Google Ireland (Google’s European headquarters are in Dublin), the Judicial Court of Paris found Google liable for reputational damage to live entertainment professionals, noting that by accepting advertising from ticket resale sites, it may have given fans the false impression that rightsholders benefit from inflated secondary-market prices.

The Tribunal judiciaire additionally declared that Google had “undeniably participated” in facilitating unlawful resale “with full knowledge of the facts”.

Prodiss brought the lawsuit after noticing advertisements for tickets to shows by Rammstein, Drake and Metallica on sites including Viagogo.fr, StubHub.fr and Rocket-Ticket.com at, or near, the top of Google’s search results. In France, it is illegal to sell tickets without authorisation from the event organiser.

The court prohibited Google from allowing the purchase of ad keywords relating to the sale of tickets for shows in France

Google will have one month to act on the ruling, which will apply to all live shows taking place in France, including ticket retailers based elsewhere but selling tickets for French shows.

In the 15 October judgment, the court prohibited Google Ireland, which operates Google Ads (formerly AdWords), from allowing the purchase of advertising keywords relating to the sale of tickets for shows in France, unless the purchaser can prove that they have written authorisation from the rightsholder.

It also ordered Google to pay Prodiss €40,000 for in damages and an additional €20,000 under article 700 of the code of civil procedure (CPC).

In November, Google began accepting advertising from Viagogo once more after having previously banned the site from its AdWords platform.

 


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