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ILMC 34: Inside ticketing’s new normal

International ticketing executives have given a mixed picture on live music markets around the world as the business bids to pick up where it left off pre-pandemic.

ILMC’s Ticketing: All change please! session heard from Ticketmaster UK’s Sarah Slater, Marcia Titley of Eventim Norway & Sweden, John Talbot of AXS Europe, Dice’s Amy Oldham and TicketSwap’s James Fleury, with Michael Hosking of Singapore-based Midas Promotions offering a promoter’s perspective.

Quizzed on the state of play by chair Richard Howle of The Ticket Factory, the panel reported contrasting fortunes to date.

“In Scandinavia, restrictions were lifted in December in Denmark, in January in Norway, and February in Sweden, so we’re about three, four months in,” noted Titley. “When the restrictions were lifted, ticket sales jumped, which was great, we were all thrilled. And then they kind of plateaued.”

“We’re making progress, but it’s slower than I think we all had hoped”

While observing a week-by-week improvement, she added that Covid has appeared to have triggered a change in purchasing habits, with a shift towards buying tickets later in the day.

“They’re waiting, and I think we can all understand why,” she said. “I think we’re all holding our breath a little bit wondering if some new variant’s going to pop up tomorrow. And shows aren’t selling out, so that sense of urgency isn’t there.

“One thing we’re starting to see in Scandinavia as well is uncertainty if shows and festivals are actually going to happen. Just recently, last week, one of our biggest festivals in Norway had to cancel because of Covid complications… So this has also affected consumer behaviour.

“Also, I think we’re trying to find ways to get people to go back to live. I think people have got a little bit stuck on their couches and we need to try to find a way to get them to remember what live was all about. If we can get them into the shows then we will be able to build up that kind of credibility in the market. We’re making progress, but it’s slower than I think we all had hoped.”

“One of the greatest impacts of Covid is it has made people, generally, quite lethargic”

Citing sold-out stadium shows by Justin Bieber in Singapore and Malaysia, Hosking stressed that demand was visible for certain artists, but returned to the theme of audience lethargy.

“The real test will be maybe the B and C-listers,” he offered. “I think one of the greatest impacts of Covid is it has made people, generally, quite lethargic. The old days of having to do everything immediately seems to have waned. And of course, Asia’s not one country, it is several countries and there are still very different restrictions about touring. But Justin is living proof that if the people want you bad enough they’ll go out and buy tickets.”

Talbot, who joined AXS last summer, said the business had faced an “existential threat” and attempted to put its travails into perspective.

“To use a hospitalisation analogy, we were hit by a truck and now we are in the recovery from that period, and it’s not going to happen overnight. We’ve got a cost of living crisis. People can see the alternatives to going out – because they were denied so long, they’ve got other options and they can entertain themselves in different ways.

“We do need to teach the market that going out, congregating, seeing live events is a really, really important part of our culture and they should come back to it. But those challenges are nowhere near as existential as what we were facing only a matter of months ago, so I think there’s a lot of reason to be very cheerful.”

“Half of our customer services activity at the moment is reuniting customers with the tickets they bought in 2019 and 2020”

He added: “We’re finding that a lot of our best customers are holding four or five tickets to shows that are yet to play off… So how do you sell to the market new events, when they’ve already got commitments, and sometimes they’ve forgotten that they’re holding these tickets?

“Half of our customer services activity at the moment is reuniting customers with the tickets they bought in 2019 and 2020. So when that clog disappears, as it will, I think that’s when we can really start to see new on sales not being buffeted by those market forces.”

Slater and Oldham suggested the state of affairs in the UK was more favourable across the board, in part, due to being able to press ahead with a partial festival season in 2021.

Slater, who received the Golden Ticketer gong at the 2022 Arthur Awards, pointed to Ticketmaster’s stellar business in the final quarter of last year.

“We were really able to capture that pent-up demand that the pandemic brought,” she said. “Q4 was absolutely huge: We had Reading & Leeds sell out; Creamfields sell out; we’ve got new sites for festivals; there are lots of tickets out there, but we’re selling all our tickets as well.

“We’re really positive; we were lucky that we got the summer [2021] in the UK, so we’re in a slightly different position to everyone else.”

“People are demanding to have choice and flexibility now when it comes to buying tickets”

“The market’s certainly buoyant,” added Oldham, Dice’s VP of content, Europe. “We had over a million people go out in London last month, which is extraordinary. The place where it’s the most buzzy is with emerging talent – the waitlist for artists like Fred Again is astronomical. People are buying really early because they’ve got the protection of knowing that they can give their ticket back if they can’t go.”

James Fleury of price-capped ‘ethical’ ticket marketplace TicketSwap said the Amsterdam-based firm had already twice broken company records in the first four months of 2022, and backed up Oldham’s point on flexibility.

“People are demanding to have choice and flexibility now when it comes to buying tickets,” he said. “Buying a ticket anymore isn’t necessarily a commitment to attend that specific event. It is for the top four or five artists that I really love, but for the other artists where we maybe like one single or a couple of tracks… I think it’s important that we also promote that flexibility.

“Our challenge this year as a company is to educate both fans, but also partners – promoters and festivals – about why having that choice and flexibility is important on the fans’ side.”

 


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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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TicketSwap raises $10m in first funding round

Price-capped ‘ethical’ ticket marketplace TicketSwap has raised US$10 million in new funding from Amsterdam-based venture-capital firm Million Monkeys.

TicketSwap, also headquartered in Amsterdam, will put the money towards expanding into new countries while reinforcing its presence in existing markets, the company says. TicketSwap has ticket resale partnerships with more than 6,000 events worldwide, including DGTL (Amsterdam), Sziget (Budapest) and Hellfest (Clisson, France).

“We are delighted with our first funding in the existence of TicketSwap”, says founder and CEO Hans Ober. “Instead of having to take a step back due to Covid-19, we can now accelerate our growth.

“We are expanding to new markets and improving the quality of our service. Million Monkeys has a lot of experience in building marketplaces like ours.”

“Million Monkeys has a lot of experience in building marketplaces like ours”

The funding will also allow TicketSwap to accelerate the development of new features, continues Ober –for example, new ways to handle scarce tickets for high-demand events, to which end TicketSwap is trialling a raffle technology that would allow more people to have a chance to enter and an increased chance to get a ticket.

It is also building technology to understand fans’ needs better, allowing them to recommend personalised events. “We want TicketSwap to become more than a marketplace for tickets”, says Ober. “It will be a part of the anticipation for an event or day trip. TicketSwap will develop into an app that people like to use regularly to discover new artists and shows, not just when they are looking to buy tickets.”

Over five million fans have used TicketSwap, which caps the resale price at 20% above face value, to buy and sell spare tickets since the company’s launch in 2012.

 


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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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TicketSwap expands with two senior hires

Amsterdam-based fan-to-fan ticket marketplace TicketSwap is expanding its leadership team with two senior hires ‘in anticipation of strong demand’ for live music this summer.

Margriet Rijff joins the company as COO and Oscar Kriek takes on the newly-created position head of business strategy.

Rijff was formerly a senior executive at beauty booking platform Treatwell, where she helped grow the platform in 11 countries through launches, mergers and acquisitions.

As COO of TicketSwap, Rijff will oversee operations across all markets from the Netherlands to Brazil and facilitate the platform’s ‘aggressive expansion’.

“I am very pleased to be joining such a talented team with an amazing culture,” says Rijff. “The company has great potential to help music fans and event organisers. I’m particularly excited to help TicketSwap grow internationally, and make buying and selling second hand tickets easy, transparent and safe around the globe.”

“We have consolidated in order to get through the last year. Now, as events start to pick up, we are stepping up”

Under the role of head of business strategy, Kriek will bring a wealth of knowledge to further enhance the data, insight and services TicketSwap can offer its partners.

Kriek is a mainstay in the Dutch music industry and has experience working with artists, events, venues and most recently in business strategy at See Tickets Benelux.

In addition, he leads the Tech Programme for Amsterdam Dance Event, bringing in various high profile thought leaders over the years such as the CTO of Amazon.

“It’s great to have Margriet and Oscar on board,” says TicketSwap co-founder and CEO Hans Ober.

“Like so many in the live entertainment space, we have consolidated in order to get through the last year. Now, as events start to pick up, we are stepping up. Margriet and Oscar bring a wealth of experience running and expanding international businesses. Together they will really help us forge ahead in our mission of becoming the world’s favourite place to buy and sell tickets.”

The two senior hires signal a rebuild for the Dutch ticket marketplace after making redundant 30% of its workforce in May 2020 due to the financial impact of the coronavirus.

 


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Local Legends aims to raise millions for European venues

Ethical resale website TicketSwap has teamed up with Cosimo and GoFund me to launch a new crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise millions for music venues across Europe that are struggling under the financial strain of Covid-19.

The campaign will launch on Wednesday 18 November on crowdfunding platform GoFundMe and will aim to raise €2.5 million for over 250 venues before Christmas.

Venues in the UK, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Austria can sign up now and will receive fundraising guides, practical tips and customisable visual assets. Venues can more information here.

“Government support across Europe varies dramatically, and many venues – especially clubs – have fallen through the cracks,” says Chris Carey, head of international marketing at TicketSwap and author of UK Live Music: At a Cliff Edge report.

“It’s never easy to ask for help, but there is a local audience who would help if they knew how. This campaign exists to focus public attention on venues, and engage with fans so they can help in a practical way.”

“This campaign exists to focus public attention on venues, and engage with fans so they can help in a practical way”

Merlijn Poolman, night mayor of Groningen and founder of Cosimo, added: “These venues are key for artist development, but they are also key institutions in their local communities. As well as creating a local scene, they create jobs and stimulate demand for restaurants, bars and hotels nearby. More than that, they create an identity in a city that the city will fight to save.”

John Coventry, international director at GoFundMe says: “The live music sector has been hit incredibly hard already and – as future lockdowns take effect – we want to do all we can to help venues weather the storm. Importantly venues don’t have to hit a fixed target before they can withdraw funds, giving them maximum flexibility.”

The campaign has received backing from numerous associations across Europe including Association For Electronic Music, Live DMA, Night Time Industry Association and Music Venue Trust.

Live DMA, a European live music network comprising 16 member countries, published a report in September which estimates a €1.2 billion loss in audience income for the 2,600 music venues it represents.

 


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TicketSwap lets go nearly a third of staff

TicketSwap, the Amsterdam-based fan-to-fan ticket marketplace, is letting 30% of its staff go, becoming the latest live music company to make cutbacks due to the impact of the coronavirus.

TicketSwap ended 2019 in a strong financial position, says the company, “with a sizeable financial buffer in place and a clear growth strategy”, and the start of 2020 saw it bolster its workforce in anticipation of a strong summer festival season. But with the summer calendar in the Netherlands and elsewhere now empty, the firm was forced to implement cost-saving measures, including pausing remuneration for execs and reducing budgets across all departments.

“As the full extent of the coronavirus impact became clear, and with the EU suggesting that large-scale events would be the last thing to return to normal, further action was necessary and staff cuts were inevitable,” reads a statement from TicketSwap. “While the NOW support from the Dutch government certainly helped the company, it was not sufficient […] and did not allow the business to keep going at its current state.”

TicketSwap, which has users in 22 countries, says the lay-offs fall most heavily on the marketing and customer support departments, “since these teams handle day-to-day activity, which has stopped almost entirely”.

“It is a very sad day for TicketSwap, but we know we are not the only ones hurting”

The staffing reduction, which takes TicketSwap’s workforce back to early 2019 levels, comes as the company seeks loans and other funding and investment opportunities to help it weather the pandemic. The company remains fully owned by its founders.

TicketSwap CEO Hans Ober (pictured) says: “It is a very sad day for TicketSwap, but we know we are not the only ones hurting. Festivals, venues, event organisers, artists and everyone behind the scenes is hurting badly.

“The fans are hurting, too, and it’s imperative that the government does all it can to support the creative sector through this remarkably difficult time.”

Other companies known to have made redundancies during the Covid-19 outbreak include Cirque du Soleil, Paradigm Talent Agency, Eventbrite, StubHub and Endeavor/WME, while many more industry professionals are temporarily furloughed.

 


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Chris Carey joins TicketSwap as head of intl marketing

Ethical secondary ticketer TicketSwap has appointed music industry analyst Chris Carey as head of international marketing.

As the founder and CEO of London-based Media Insight Consulting, Carey has worked with clients including Spotify, Sony and the O2 Arena. Prior to starting the consultancy firm, he served as global insight director at EMI Music and Universal Records.

In 2015, Carey founded the future-focused FastForward Music Conference in Amsterdam, later launching editions in London and Sydney.

Carey will bring experience in marketing, research, data analysis and consumer insights to aid TicketSwap’s marketing and growth strategy.

“I’m excited to bring my background and industry insights to TicketSwap and bridge the gap between talent, events and the secondary ticketing marketplace,” says Carey.

“I’m excited to bring my background and industry insights to TicketSwap and bridge the gap between talent, events and the secondary ticketing marketplace”

“TicketSwap’s marketplace offers the best fan experience and is rapidly growing internationally, and I am thrilled to be a part of that success story.”

“We have been on a steep growth journey since we started six years ago and I’m proud to add Chris to our team as we continue to professionalise and expand even further,” adds Hans Ober, CEO of TicketSwap.

“I’m excited to see how the combination of his data-driven methodology and international experience will fuel our marketing strategies in 2020 and beyond.”

Over four million fans have used TicketSwap to buy and sell tickets since its 2012 inauguration. The platform caps the price of resold tickets at 20% above face value, working with over 300 partners to help venues and promoters to take more control of secondary ticketing.

 


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TicketSwap to launch in Ireland

Dutch ethical secondary ticketing platform TicketSwap is to launch in the Republic of Ireland.

Amsterdam-based TicketSwap, which caps the price of resold tickets at 20% above face value, bills itself as “Europe’s largest fan-to-fan ticket resale platform”, with more than 2m users in 2017 (including the “magic number” of 100,000+ in both the UK and France).

The company, which recently celebrated its fifth birthday, is also exploring opportunities in America, and last year made its first transaction in US$.

“Irish fans deserve the chance to buy tickets for their favourite events at fair prices”

“Irish fans deserve the chance to buy tickets for their favourite events at fair prices,” TicketSwap CEO Hans Ober says in a statement. “We’ve specifically built our platform around a community of fans that want more freedom to sell their spare tickets directly to other fans, and also want the chance to buy tickets to sold out events without breaking the bank.

“Over five years, our platform has grown into the viable alternative to unsecured, informal sales and touting marketplaces across Europe. We are excited to launch our service in Ireland.”

Irish parliamentarians are set to vote imminently on whether to outlaw above-face value ticket resale, with government believed to be ready to give its backing to the proposal.

 


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Dutch EDM giants partner with TicketSwap

Amsterdam-based secondary ticket marketplace TicketSwap, which caps the price of resold tickets at 20% above face value, has won the backing of some of the Netherlands’ biggest electronic dance music (EDM) festivals and promoters.

ID&T/LiveStyle’s Mysteryland, Sensation, Thunderdome, Welcome to the Future and Amsterdam Open Air festivals, along with Monumental Productions’ Awakenings festival and EDM promoters Q-Dance, Air Events and b2s, are using the company’s Secure Swap platform, which automatically invalidates unwanted tickets and issues new ones personalised with the name of the secondary buyer.

“It’s amazing that’s the biggest Dutch festivals are all getting behind TicketSwap”

TicketSwap, founded in Amsterdam in 2012, is now active in 20 countries and has 1.5 million users worldwide.

“It’s amazing that the biggest Dutch festivals are all getting behind TicketSwap,” comments company co-founder Hans Ober. “This underlines that we are on the right track. It’s really a crowning achievement of our work and shows that we can eliminate ticket fraud and touting.”

 


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