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TM Germany: 98% of fans ready to go back to shows

An overwhelming majority of German music fans want to attend live events again, despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to new research by Ticketmaster Germany.

Of some 80,000 people surveyed, 98% of Ticketmaster customers said they still want to go to shows, with 65% of those surveyed saying they miss live events “particularly badly”.

While 94% of people expect ticket prices to rise post-pandemic, live events are the activity respondents are most looking forward to returning to, with 82% saying live entertainment is their top priority, ahead of travelling (78%) and eating out (67%).

The survey also suggests that fans will continue to pay for live streams and other virtual concerts when venues have reopened, tallying with previous research by Bandsintown. According to Ticketmaster, fans “enjoy the convenience of streams they can enjoy from the comfort of their own home”, with two thirds saying they have paid, or would pay in future, for exclusive online content from artists.

Live events are the activity respondents are most looking forward to returning to

Industry groups have criticised Germany’s scattershot approach to ending lockdown restrictions on live music, with umbrella body BDKV saying earlier this week that the country’s federal structure – with different sets of regulations in all 16 states – makes touring “impossible” at present.

“Even if there were a promoter who would be willing to organise a tour at a loss, or financed by public subsidies, the 16 different, contradictory and contradicting regional directives do not allow for the consistent organisation of touring events,” says BDKV president Jens Michow.

In addition to Germany, demand for live music remains strong in the UK, the Netherlands and Italy, according to recent surveys in those markets.


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Let us offer credit for cancelled shows, say assocs

As the coronavirus crisis continues to exert financial pressure on the live sector, industry associations and businesses in Europe, Asia and North America are asking for changes in the way refunds are issued for cancelled events.

In Europe, research shows digital footfall to event ticket sales sites has collapsed in recent months, with only travel agencies harder hit by concerns over the virus. According to Comscore, visits to ticketing sites fell by 47% in France, 12% in Germany, 52% in Italy, 55% in Spain and 26% in the UK between 17–23 February and 9–5 March.

The figures come as associations in the the UK warn of a cashflow “crisis” amid widespread concert cancellations – with British artists and managers alone expected to lose more than £60 million should a ban on mass gatherings last for the next six months – and other sectors, including cinema and aviation, similarly grapple with an unprecedented drop-off in ticket sales.

In countries including Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, the UK, Russia and Kazakhstan, associations representing cash-strapped local operators are pushing for an extended refund grace period (up to 365 days), to be permitted to give vouchers in lieu of cash refunds, or a combination of the two.

“If you can afford it, you should consider whether it is really necessary to return your ticket for a refund,” reads a blog from Ticketmaster Germany, which is supporting the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC)’s #keepyourticket campaign. “Every ticket that is not returned helps organisers, venues and [sports] clubs, even after the coronavirus has passed, and enables them to be able to organise great events in future.”

The EVVC, which represents arenas and conference centres in central and southern Europe, is inviting its members to support the campaign by sharing text and visual materials calling for solidarity with promoters and venues. “For organisers, suppliers and cultural professionals, the corona pandemic is a threat to their existence,” says the association.

“If you can afford it, you should consider whether it is necessary to return your ticket for a refund”

Promoters’ association BDKV – which estimates its ~450 members will lose a combined €1.25 billion from March to May as a result of Germany’s event ban – is asking the German government to extend temporarily, to 365 days, the time within which a refund must be paid, as well as offer credit for tickets instead of cash refunds (a solution it says would especially benefit members sitting on large ticket inventories, such as theatres).

The former request (a grace period for refunds) is also believed to be the option preferred by Britain’s UK Music and Colisium, which represents promoters in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

In Spain, newly launched umbrella body Esmúsica (which includes the Association of Music Promoters) is also asking for a grace period, lasting until 31 December, for cancelled events. For postponed events, however, “given the exceptional situation”, the organisation says promoters must not be obliged to offer a refund, instead offering only a new ticket for rescheduled date(s).

“Several organisations and municipalities are cancelling events on a daily basis. Shows on sale for the end of the year and early 2021 are not selling. We have to work together on a reimbursement policy for postponed and cancelled shows that helps to minimise catastrophic losses,” says Portugal’s APEFE, which backs Esmúsica’s position on no refunds for postponed shows, suggesting that “purchased tickets must be valid for postponed shows without mandatory reimbursement”.

Both Esmúsica and APEFE (Association of Promoters of Shows, Festivals and Events) are also calling for a temporary reduction in VAT charged on tickets, among other relief measures.

In the Netherlands, meanwhile, the associations’ counterpart there, VVEM (Association of Event Producers), appears to be making headway with its campaign for ticket vouchers, with the Dutch cabinet discussing the issue this week.

“It is currently impossible for us to offer immediate cash refunds to all buyers”

Dutch culture minister Ingrid van Engelshoven has previously asked ticketholders not to request cash refunds, while VVEM has also reportedly found a sympathetic ear in the form of economy minister Eric Wiebes, who has said the government will provide further “strong help” for the sector (though it remains to be seen in what form).

While European associations focus on lobbying their respective governments, US secondary ticketing giant StubHub has taken the matter into its own hands, announcing that – where legal – it will no longer provide refunds for cancelled events to its American and Canadian customers. Instead, ticketholders will receive a voucher worth 120% of the original value of the ticket.

The change in policy comes as StubHub, which is in the process of being acquired by European rival Viagogo, lays off as much as two thirds of its workforce, in what it calls a “difficult but sensible decision”.

Explaining the shift in its refund terms, a StubHub spokesperson says: “In normal times, we’ve made the decision to refund buyers before collecting money from the seller to offer buyers more convenience. And under normal circumstances, this works well, even with StubHub taking the risk of timing delays and some losses when we are unable to collect from the seller. With the coronavirus impacting 28,000+ events and the associated magnitude of challenge in recouping monies owed by sellers over the coming months, it is currently impossible for us to offer immediate cash refunds to all buyers.

“When the volume of cancellations accelerated a few weeks ago, we were the first in our industry to offer a coupon worth 120% of the ticket value. This will now be our default option in Canada and in the US. Outside of the US and Canada, fans are defaulted to a refund.”


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Ticketmaster Germany hires director of music

Sebastian Kahlich has been appointed director of music and entertainment for Ticketmaster Germany.

Formerly director of brand partnerships for Starwatch Entertainment, in his new role Kahlich is tasked with managing Ticketmaster’s sales team while developing new business for the company in Germany.

Klaus Zemke, managing director of Ticketmaster Germany, says: “Sebastian has remarkable industry knowledge and brings with him an unprecedented level of expertise in his field. We look forward to him joining us and helping us to further expand our brand in Germany and around the world.”

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, Ticketmaster is one of a number of challengers to CTS Eventim, which “dominates the German ticketing market is all domains”.

“I am really looking forward to working with the new team”

Kahlich’s old company, Starwatch, formerly owned a share of another challenger, DEAG’s MyTicket, though it sold its 25% stake in mid-2018.

“I am really looking forward to my new job at Ticketmaster and to working with the new team,” says Kahlich.

“The growing live scene is, for me, the most exciting area in the entertainment industry, and with Ticketmaster there are great opportunities to be successful in this segment together with artists, organisers and marketers.”


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