75% of music fans up for attending socially distanced shows
UK-based event discovery and ticketing platform Skiddle has revealed that three quarters of respondents to a recent survey would be happy to attend a socially distanced live music event before the end of the year.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson today announced further easing to lockdown restrictions, stating that hospitality venues including pubs and restaurants will reopen from 4 July, with the current two-metre distancing rule being reduced to one. Under the eased plans, music venues can reopen but cannot hold live performances and nightclubs and exhibtion centres must remain closed.
In a survey sent out to 200,000 Skiddle customers, almost two thirds (65%) of respondents said they are planning on returning to live music events within one month of lockdown being lifted. Of those, 42% stated they would be willing to go to a show “straight away”, following the easing of restrictions.
Less than 9% of those surveyed said they would wait over six months after lockdown before attending live music events.
Over 70% said they were ‘likely’ to attend both indoor and outdoor events post-lockdown, with more than half saying they would attend a seating-only event (with at least one empty seat between those who do not live together).
“What is clear from these results is that music fans are busting to get back out there, with around two-thirds of our customers planning to watch live music within one month of lockdown lifting”
Respondents also expressed excitement for future events, with 38% of respondents saying they have already bought tickets for 2021 events and a further 47% stating they would be likely to before the end of the year.
Over 95% of event organisers and promoters surveyed by Skiddle said they had not received enough information from the government regarding future events, with many pointing to the financial viability of social-distanced/reduced capacity events as a major concern.
“What is clear from these results is that music fans are busting to get back out there, with around two-thirds of our customers planning to watch live music within one month of lockdown lifting,” comments Skiddle co-founder Richard Dyer.
“That’s obviously great news for the industry, but there’s a major problem. The people who organise and promote live music events do not have what they need to make it happen.
“What the live sector needs is clear and constructive guidelines from the government on capacities, sanitation, testing and more. Only then can the industry begin to get back on its feet.”
The UK government has been subject to criticism from various live industry associations, who demand clarity on reopening timelines and restrictions.
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Skiddle expands to new London office
UK-based event guide and ticketing outlet Skiddle has revealed that it is expanding, opening new office space in London.
The announcement follows Skiddle’s most successful year to date, with the company reporting a 30% increase in turnover, gross ticket sales of £60 million and a record-breaking 3.5m tickets sold in 2018.
The new premises will be staffed by a team focusing specifically on growth in the capital city. Head of new business, Duncan King, will head up the new team at the offices based in Camden. King has recently joined Skiddle, having worked with 360, AEI media and Turn First Artists.
The London office adds to Skiddle’s existing headquarters in Preston, a development hub in Liverpool and an office space in Manchester, which opened earlier this year.
“We have always had strong relationships and accounts in the capital, however this new investment will enable us to grow the business”
“Picking up the keys to Skiddle’s new London premises was a milestone achievement for our business,” says Skiddle co-founder and director Ben Sebborn. “We have always had strong relationships and accounts in the capital, however this new investment will enable us to grow the business – increasing the number of venues, promoters and artists we work with and expand our remit with the accounts we currently manage.
“This invaluable on-the-ground presence will also allow us to cultivate new relationships more efficiently and effectively; surrounded by a wealth of iconic music venues, established and grassroots artists and unrivalled live entertainment,” adds Sebborn.
Skiddle’s new office opened for business today, Monday 15 April.
Women dominate ticket buying for live events
New data collected by event discovery guide and ticketing outlet, Skiddle, has revealed that women are buying record numbers of tickets to live music events.
Traditionally, men have been the predominant buyers of tickets to live music events. However, over the past five years, women have grown their market share of overall ticket sales by 22%, with females purchasing on average 13% more live event tickets than men.
The ticketing outlet revealed that women are most dominant in the festival ticket-buying arena. Last year, women bought 65% more music festival tickets than men, an increase by more than a third from the year before.
“An increase in the number of women at live music events can only be a positive thing for music”
Skiddle suggests that a move towards more equal representation on stage, as well as initiatives like Safe Gigs For Women and Girls Against have contributed to the increase in female buyers.
Victoria Bamber, head of campaigns at Skiddle, says the data is “incredibly encouraging”.
“An increase in the number of women at live music events can only be a positive thing for music,” said Bamber.
“Efforts are being made to diversify both on stage and behind the scenes, and it appears that this messaging is filtering through to female music fans who are growing in confidence and making a real impact across gigs, club nights and festivals UK wide.”
Skiddle reports most successful year to date
Event guide and ticketing outlet, Skiddle, has published its year-end results for 2018, the company’s most successful year to date.
Skiddle announced a 30% increase in turnover, gross ticket sales of £60 million and a record-breaking 3.5 million ticket sales – a 22.5% increase on 2017.
The ticketing platform has experienced staff growth of 27% in the past year, establishing new offices in Manchester and London to add to existing bases in Lancashire and Liverpool.
Over 20,000 promoters used Skiddle to list more than 88,000 live events last year, a 21% increase in listings from 2017. The company grew its digital user base too, registering 20% web page views, 69% more users on iOS devices and 40% on Android.
“We are delighted to announce such strong figures for our 2018 year-end and are pleased to report growth across all areas of the business,” says Skiddle co-founder and technical director, Ben Sebborn.
“Challenging the biggest players in the industry is important, but championing grassroots venues, up-and-coming artists and independent promoters will always be imperative and a marker of our success”
“One of our key focuses for 2018 was growing our team and investing in innovation. As well as re-launching our event discovery app, we also re-imagined our ‘Rep’ initiative that rewards customer loyalty. Our flexible Re:Sell and Cool:Off platforms were also rolled out to more customers than ever before.”
Sebborn highlights the importance of maintaining a “customer-centric, authentic and hassle-free approach” to business.
“Challenging the biggest players in the industry is important, but championing grassroots venues, up-and-coming artists and independent promoters will always be imperative and a marker of our success,” he says.
In 2017, Skiddle refunded all attendees of Liverpool’s disastrous Hope & Glory festival (12,500-cap.), after day two of the event was called off. The ticketing agency later revealed that it lost £65,000 as a result, but maintained the decision to refund was “entirely the right thing to do”.
Minding our own business: why mental health needs more attention
Traditionally an industry that attracts passionate and creative individuals who are willing to go the extra mile, the highly competitive live music business appears to be rife with fatigue, anxiety, stress, and drink – and drug-related problems.
A recent survey of more than 500 promoters, event organisers and venue owners, by ticket agency Skiddle indicates the extent of the welfare challenge facing the music industry. Some 82% of respondents said they had suffered with stress, 67% said they had anxiety, and 40% said they had struggled with depression.
Skiddle found 65% of promoters admitted to frequently feeling an “intense and unmanageable level of pressure.”
Someone who knows first hand what it feels like to suffer mental health issues as a result of intense pressure at work is production manager Andy Franks. After being sacked from a tour as a result of excessive drinking, Franks says he didn’t know where to turn to for help.
After meeting artist manager Matt Thomas, and collectively realising that drink – and drug-related mental health problems were widespread in the recorded and live music sectors, the duo founded the charity Music Support.
Franks says the aim of Music Support’s tagline – ‘You Are Not Alone’ – is to emphasise that the charity is there to ensure there is always someone on hand to help.
As well as offering a 24-hour helpline manned by volunteers with experience in the music industry, Music Support provides Safe Tents backstage at UK festivals, and services including crisis support and trauma therapy.
“We get feedback from people who we have helped and it is awe inspiring, we know we have saved people’s lives”
“We get feedback from people who we have helped and it is awe inspiring, we know we have saved people’s lives,” says Franks. As well as crew, promoters and venue staff, artists are also affected by the enormous pressures involved in delivering live music. One of the patrons of Music Support is Robbie Williams, while acts including Depeche Mode and Coldplay are among those to have helped fund the charity.
Despite the high-level backing, Franks says the future of Music Support is far from secure unless further funding can be found.
“These problems are in everyone’s business and we are providing a valuable service, but the only way we can sustain that is with regular funding. We are in desperate need of sustained funding,” says Franks.
Lina Ugrinovska is another live music industry executive who, having struggled with issues including stress, became determined to help others overcome their problems.
Ugrinovska handles international booking at Password Production in Macedonia. Earlier this year she launched the ‘Mental Health Care in the Music Industry’ initiative with the aim of raising the profile of mental health issues, and helping people to tackle their problems via mentoring sessions and panel discussions.
She says, “I feel a responsibility to open the box and show that people should feel comfortable talking about their issues, instead of treating them as a sign of weakness.
“The idea behind the initiative is to raise awareness and help develop a healthier industry, through sharing stories, diagnosing, prevention and problem solving. It is something that everyone involved in this industry should take responsibility for.”
“I feel a responsibility to open the box and show that people should feel comfortable talking about their issues, instead of treating them as a sign of weakness”
An organisation that clearly has its employees’ best interests at heart is UK performance rights organisation PRS for Music. It used World Mental Health Day to announce the launch of an initiative that will see 16 of its staff trained as ‘mental health first-aiders.’
The initiative, in partnership with Mental Health First Aid England, is the next step in a series of wellbeing programmes carried out by the organisation in recent years.
Steve Powell, PRS for Music chief financial officer, says, “We have undertaken wellbeing programmes covering issues including nutrition, physical, financial, digital detox, and mental health. This latest initiative enables people to have conversations more regularly and outside of a structured programme.
“The area of stress and mental resilience is something that more and more people are having to cope with. This initiative is designed to enable people to talk about mental health and break down the stigma surrounding it in an informal and confidential way.”
Another organisation providing a 24-hours-a-day, seven- days-a-week help line for people suffering with mental health issues is Britain’s Help Musicians. Its Music Minds Matter service was launched in December in response to the findings of its Can Music Make You Sick? study released the previous year.
Nearly three quarters of survey respondents stated they had experienced anxiety and depression, while more than half said there wasn’t sufficient support available. Aside from the helpline, Music Support provides a network of international counsellors to help those in need while out on tour.
Formerly known as the Musicians Benevolent Fund, which was set up in 1921, Help Musicians not only helps people with mental health issues, but other problems including isolation and financial turmoil.
Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 80, or subscribe to the magazine here
Viberate adds CTS Eventim to ticket sales partners
Blockchain-based live music marketplace Viberate has increased the number of tickets on sale through its platform to 70,000 by partnering with CTS Eventim.
Since raising more than US$10m in an initial coin offering (ICO) last August, the Slovenia-based company, which aims to “map the global live music ecosystem” using blockchain technology, has grown its database of musicians, venues, booking agencies and promoters by 270%, and had its VIB tokens listed on 14 cryptocurrency exchanges. It also already has ticket distribution agreements in place with Ticketmaster, Eventbrite and Skiddle.
Oliver Fraemke, senior vice-president of international business development at CTS Eventim, says: “As Europe’s leading ticketing company, generating reach on the web is obviously among our core competencies. Teaming up with an exciting start-up like Viberate adds yet another powerful channel to our ever-increasing number of affiliate outlets.
“Teaming up with an exciting start-up like Viberate adds yet another powerful channel to our ever-increasing number of affiliate outlets”
“Our cooperation will help us draw a much sought-for and highly-attractive customer group to our own Eventim web shops, to the benefit of music fans and artists alike.”
According to the STA news agency, the partnership with the German company will also include its local operations, including Slovenia’s Eventim.si.
“Getting the recognition from the big players in the industry is a huge reward for our work so far,” adds Vasja Veber, Viberate’s COO. “Our team is fully devoted to developing a completely new digital playground for music enthusiasts, industry professionals and crypto fans that will make a huge impact on the industry.”
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Music industry backs World Mental Health Day
Today (10 October) is World Mental Health Day 2018, and artists, music companies and industry charities are doing their bit to raise awareness of what has been called an industry wide mental health crisis.
World Mental Health Day, created by the World Federation for Mental Health, has been observed annually since 1992. This year’s theme is ‘Young people and mental health in a changing world’, recognising the specific challenges faced by young people, one in five of whom will suffer with mental illness before they reach 24.
Several well-publicised studies have revealed that poor mental health is particularly prevalent in the global music industry, including Norwegian research from 2016 that found musicians are three times more likely to be undergoing psychotherapy than the average person, and 50% more likely to be using psychotropic medication, and a Victoria University study in 2017 that discovered the incidence of depression for those working in live entertainment is five times higher than the general population.
Among the organisations seeking to make headlines like those history is Britain’s Help Musicians UK (HMUK), which is using World Mental Health Day (WMH Day) to publicise its Music Minds Matter service, which it announced last July and launched in December in response to what it called a “mental health crisis” in the music industry.
Using the hashtag #MyMusicMindMatters, HMUK will “keep the conversation [around mental health] going by inviting the industry, artists, friends, supporters and social media communities to share the music that ‘matters’ to them.” The music will then be compiled into a playlist to raise awareness of the Music Minds Matter service, which combines a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week helpline with clinical, medical, therapeutic and welfare support for those in need.
“We wanted to … shine a light on the worryingly common issues of mental health across the music industry”
The charity has also announced new partnerships with electronic music school Point Blank, on this evening’s Guide to Survival in the Music Industry session, and US-based nonprofit Give An Hour, for the second Global Summit on Mental Health Culture Change, taking place in London from 10 to 12 October, as well as supporting the upcoming Venues Day 2018 conference.
“By launching the #MyMusicMindMatters campaign and announcing our diverse range of partnerships, HMUK continues to keep mental health high on the agenda, raise awareness of the support available and encourage positive and lasting change,” says interim HMUK CEO James Ainscough. “Through our holistic programme of support, HMUK continues to make a difference to the lives of our beneficiaries by helping to build a sustainable future for all within the industry.”
Also marking WMH Day is Music Support, which alongside a 24/7 helpline of its own provides Safe Tents at UK festivals and services including crisis management psychiatric assessment and signposting.
Artist manager Matt Thomas, who founded Music Support alongside production manager Andy Franks, today spoke on mental health and addiction at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM) in London, part of a programme that also includes HMUK’s health and welfare officer, Aidan Culley, Mind counsellor Skye Blythe-Whitelock and musician-turned-counsellor John O’Reilly:
Matt Thomas, founding trustee, will be down at @BIMMLondon today to talk about mental health and addiction in the music industry, how to spot it, how to prevent it and most importantly, how to help each other. Make sure you pop down between 1pm and 2pm#WorldMentalHealthDay pic.twitter.com/veyL4p5CZn
— Music Support (@Musicsupport_uk) October 10, 2018
In the festival world, meanwhile, the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals is gearing up for next month’s Festival Congress and the Independent Festival Awards 2018.
Among other awards – including an outstanding contribution gong for late Tramlines festival director Sarah Nulty – the Act of Independence prize will be awarded to London’s Meltdown for replacing Frightened Rabbit’s set at the event with a panel on mental health in the music industry following the death of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison.
Bengi Ünsal, senior contemporary music programmer at festival organiser Southbank Centre, comments: “We are incredibly honoured and humbled to receive this award. After hearing the news of Scott Hutchison’s death, instead of leaving the Queen Elizabeth Hall unprogrammed and keeping the issue in the dark, we wanted to use the space and the platform of Meltdown festival to bring people together and shine a light on the worryingly common issues of mental health across the music industry.
“I am grateful to this year’s curator, Robert Smith, and to the wider Southbank Centre team for making it happen, and to the bravely candid panellists for sharing their experiences.”
Also making a difference are veteran Texan alt-rockers Nothing More, who have partnered on their latest The Truth tour with nonprofit To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), donating US$1 from each ticket sale to the organisation, which helps those struggling with depression or addiction.
“The stigma surrounding mental health deserves to be challenged”
“We’ve seen firsthand how they [Nothing More] empower their fans to embrace things that we believe to be true: that stigma surrounding mental health deserves to be challenged, that your story deserves an audience and that together we can embody a defiant sense of hope,” says TWLOHA’s Chad Moses. “We look forward to standing alongside Nothing More on this journey toward truth.”
Elsewhere, UK performance rights organisation PRS for Music used WMH Day to announce a new mental health initiative for its hundreds of staff. By joining forces with Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA England) to train a group of ‘mental health first-aiders’, PRS says it will be able to provide “support to colleagues on the same basis as physical first-aiders”.
Steve Powell, PRS for Music chief financial officer, says mental health is “a subject of great importance to me personally”. “Today we’ve announced a new mental health and wellbeing initiative that I hope will provide mental wellbeing support to everyone at PRS for Music,” he comments, “and help continue to break down the stigma attached to discussing it.”
Finally, ticket agency Skiddle – whose recent survey discovered staggering levels of anxiety and depression among UK promoters and venue staff – has shared footage of a follow-up panel session at London’s Queen of Hoxton, which discussed the challenges that promoters face and their effects on health, relationships and happiness.
Watch the discussion, which featured HMUK’s Christine Brown, artist-producer Matt Cantor, Claire Cordeaux of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine and Eugene Wild of Tottenham club the Cause, below:
Hardee warns of biz burnout as report reveals huge stress levels
Coda Agency partner Alex Hardee today warned of the dangers of a “24/7” working culture across much of the live music business, as a new report reveals more than three quarters of UK promoters and venue bosses may be struggling with continuous stress and anxiety.
Speaking during his keynote at the International Festival Forum in London, Hardee, a self-confessed “workaholic”, told interviewer Paul Crockford: “It’s too late for me – I’m fucked. I’m a workaholic. It’s shit – it’s unhealthy and I can’t get out of it.”
Hardee’s comments – a rare sober moment in an otherwise entertaining and ebullient interview, set to appear online in the coming days – come as ticket agency Skiddle releases new data which shows many UK execs are struggling with “astronomical” levels of stress on a daily basis.
“I’d like the generation that comes after me to look after themselves,” Hardee continued. “The music industry has got it completely wrong, and that [24/7 working culture] is why you see a lot of people fall over and break down. You need to have breaks, and people work better when they have breaks and they’re well rested.”
“That 24/7 working culture is why you see a lot of people fall over and break down”
A survey of more than 500 promoters, events organisers and venue owners found that 82% of industry professionals have suffered with stress, 67% said they had anxiety and 40% said they had struggled with depression. Additionally, one in ten have developed associated symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as a “direct result of their work in music”.
Some 65% of promoters said they frequently felt an “intense and unmanageable level of pressure”, while almost half (47%) said their work in the music industry often led to a constant feeling of anxiety and sadness.
“After running a festival for a couple of years, the workload this year ended up depressing me to a level that I had suicidal thoughts and thoughts of self harm,” says one, speaking under the condition of anonymity. “A couple of months later I had panic attacks when thinking about starting the process again, and decided to go on hiatus instead.”
Another says: “It’s the loneliness and isolation that scares me. Anxiety and stress are just part and parcel of the job. It’s sad but true.”
Asked what causes them the most stress working in promoting, 45% said “no regular income” and 43% the “lack of support”, with unsociable hours and the effect the job has on relationships also scoring highly.
“The results of this survey do not make for an easy read”
Commenting on the results of the survey, Ben Sebborn, co-founder and director of Skiddle, comments: “The results of this survey do not make for an easy read, and it’s troubling to see that so many promoters are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing. Skiddle have been working alongside independent and large-scale promoters for nearly two decades and fully appreciate how difficult the job can be.
“As well as organising a series of panel sessions to discuss the issues raised in the survey, we will also be working with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) and the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) to ensure we are industry leaders in supporting promoters and offering them the assistance they need to work happily and effectively.”
BAPAM director Claire Cordeaux adds: “It’s well evidenced that mental health problems are considerably higher in the performing artist community than in the general population, and the industry is increasingly recognising the need for support. Skiddle’s survey of promoters, one of the first of its kind, is a timely reminder that it is not just performers that need help.”
See Skiddle’s findings in full in the infographic below:
Innovation: what are festivals doing to stay ahead of the game?
Having a warm cider, dancing in the rain and tramping through ankle-deep mud is part and parcel of what makes our festival scene so unique, but don’t be fooled – there is much more to this Great British Institution than meets the eye.
Every year, hundreds of festivals pop up on Skiddle’s Festival Guide. With competition increasingly stiff and music lovers demanding more bang for their buck, a prime location and stellar line-up are only half the battle.
So, how are festivals innovating, and what can we expect in 2018 and beyond?
Festivals are an expensive business. With purse strings tight and competition increasing, many festivals and innovative ticket retailers have adapted the way customers can pay, offering flexible payments and deposit schemes to ensure everyone can afford to attend.
As well as adapting payment methods allowing customers to spread the cost, Skiddle also offer face-value refund services and cooling off periods for customers who change their minds. Skiddle’s Re:Sell and Cool:Off functions have proved immensely popular, giving music-lovers a fair and flexible way to buy festivals tickets while offering those who do initially miss out a second chance at attending.
Both Re:Sell and Cool:Off options also help beat ticket touts and ensure events are still busy, guaranteeing attendance by reselling the tickets at face value.
Now, festivals are a year-round institution
While many festivals offer a broad range of entertainment, there have always been some that cater to a specific genre or more niche tastes. But, as the number of festivals grows year on year, many have broadened their line-ups to shift tickets. Now, it isn’t unusual for heavy rock festivals to host house DJs, for example. Mirroring social trends, many festivals now offer panel sessions on issues of the day and diversify their line-ups by opening up the floor to poets, comedians and politicians.
With many festivals facing criticism for their male-dominated line-ups – and with the BBC revealing that 80% of festival headliners in 2017 were men – some festivals are trying to highlight their commitment to women in music by hosting female-only stages and actively addressing the gender imbalance. While some festivals are struggling to catch up, many smaller festivals – Sonder in Manchester, for example – are boasting a 50% male/female artist split.
In the past, festival season used to last the summer and then all would go quiet until May. Now, festivals are a year-round institution. In fact, a recent Skiddle survey showed the second most popular time to book tickets was in January. The staggering of announcements, and the fact many festivals now release tickets and early-bird offers almost a year in advance, also shows how the climate has evolved. The sheer volume of festivals and the fact that many now exist outside of the traditional summer months to avoid date clashes have also contributed towards this shift in behaviour.
Gone are the days where a burger van and rotating kebab on a stick will suffice
The power of tech
Cash-free festivals, facial recognition, data-scanning, virtual reality and live streaming. Technology has been present at festivals for years, but accessibility, consumer demand and logistical requirements mean that festivals have stepped up their game. With engagement over social media being a key draw, the power of live streaming is increasingly valuable for securing ticket sales. Artists are also harnessing this power, using VR and more ambitious stage displays to enhance the live experience. Efficiency and safety requirements have also increased the need for more savvy tech, with organisers understanding that bad experiences can damage a reputation within minutes.
Ticket sellers have also embraced technology, working in partnership with festivals to ensure the entire journey is smooth. Skiddle has been ahead of the game for a number of years, recently introducing an update to its app, which now acts as a personalised event discovery experience, as well as a checkout.
Gone are the days where a burger van and rotating kebab on a stick will suffice. Now, many festivals are fully aware that the food and drink on offer at their event is almost as much of a talking point as what’s happening on the main stage. Gourmet offerings, vegan and gluten-free options, world cuisine and Instagram-friendly delicacies are becoming regular features on the circuit. As well as charging accordingly, many event organisers are coming to realise that festivalgoers have come to expect the best, and anything less really just won’t do.
Many festival organisers have chosen to leave fields behind and head to established venues in towns and cities instead
A quirky advantage
With unpredictable weather, mounting costs and logistical nightmares aplenty, many festival organisers have chosen to leave fields behind and head to established venues in towns and cities instead. Attracting tourists, day-trippers and people who enjoy washing their hair rather than rolling in mud – inner-city festivals are thriving. While the experience is more practical than the escapism of rural locations, the experience is often none-the-less thrilling. Inner-city festival owners are drawing in the crowds by utilising quirky spaces, as well as more traditional venues.
Harnessing the power of social
While traditional marketing is still used (often in moderation) by festivals, the focus has been on social media for many years. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the obvious choices to announce an artist, share a line-up or rally a community, with many festivals also throwing the majority of their marketing and advertising budgets around Facebook retargeting and sponsored ads.
Not only do these hone in on a specific and relevant audience, their persistence – and the fact they can sell an experience in a flash – often converts passive scrollers into festivalgoers with relative ease and efficiency.
Richard Dyer is co-founder and ticketing director of Skiddle.
Hope & Glory: Skiddle reveals £65,000 loss
UK ticket agency Skiddle has revealed it lost more than £65,000 as a result of last August’s disastrous Hope & Glory festival.
Skiddle refunded all festivalgoers out of its own pocket after day two of the event was called off amid reports of bottlenecking, queues and cancellations, with the company’s technical director, Ben Sebborn, saying at the time that it “became clear that our customers would remain out of pocket unless we intervened”.
All ticket monies remained with event organiser Hope & Glory Festivals Ltd, which went into liquidation the following month.
Almost a year on, Skiddle co-founder and director Richard Dyer says he has had time to reflect on the “unprecedented” decision to refund fans at a loss to the company.
“One year on from Hope & Glory festival, the people of Liverpool are rightly still upset about this disastrous event and the lack of accountability and responsibility that followed from the organisers,” he tells IQ. “After the event, it soon became clear there would be no cooperation from the directors of Hope & Glory gestival and no refunds for tickets issued.
“We are proud of this decision and feel it was entirely the right thing to do”
“Skiddle, as one of the ticketing partners [with Eventbrite], then took the unprecedented step of refunding customers out of our own pockets. In total, we lost over £65,000 – a significant amount for any business. As an organisation that puts our customers first, we are proud of this decision and feel it was entirely the right thing to do.”
Despite the loss incurred, Dyer says he’s confident the festival’s collapse “was an anomaly. As a north west [England]-based event guide and ticketing outlet, we have an excellent relationship with Liverpool’s promoters, venues, artists and customers and we will continue to support the rich, vibrant and unique selection of gigs, club nights and festivals on offer throughout the city in the future.”
Skiddle recently released a new version of its app, which now combines a personalised, tailored event guide with a ticket outlet and event discovery platform. “Typically, ticketing apps exist to sell tickets rather than act as an event discovery experience,” comments Sebborn. “This significantly hampers user participation and limits exposure to a fantastic range of gigs, club nights and festivals.
“We have turned the experience on its head, greeting customers at the start of their journey, exposing them to relevant and exciting events and acting as a one-stop shop: event guide, discovery platform and ticketing outlet.”