x

The latest industry news to your inbox.


I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

IQ 125 out now: Peter Schwenkow, MVT, Gulf States

IQ 125, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine, is available to read online now.

The February/March edition sees DEAG founder Peter Schwenkow look back over 50 remarkable years as a live entertainment pioneer, while Derek Robertson talks to grassroots venue campaigners around the world as Music Venue Trust marks its tenth anniversary.

In addition, Lisa Henderson talks to female crew members and women backstage about the work they’re doing to pave the way for future generations, and Adam Woods shines a light on the burgeoning live entertainment markets in the Gulf States.

Elsewhere, we profile ten new festivals that are making their debut in 2024, and the full agenda for ILMC 36 is revealed.

For this edition’s comments and columns, IQ passes the mic to Cliff Fluet who previews his ILMC panel Artificial Intelligence: Moving at Light Speed, while ticketing guru Tim Chambers opines that the marriage between private equity and live entertainment has become too big to fail.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ from just £8 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Ticketing: Demand for change

The latest edition of the International Ticketing Report (formerly the International Ticketing Yearbook) is now available in print, digitally, and on the dedicated year-round mini-site. Check out a key chapter below…

From the US president’s call for reform to frustrated fans being increasingly vocal about not getting tickets for high-demand shows, there’s never been so much scrutiny on the ticketing industry. With significant change on the horizon in the USA, what’s the broader impact worldwide?

Ticketing has long been a dynamic and fast-moving sector of the live entertainment industry. But it’s been quite some time since things were as heated as they have been in the last 18 months.

Media reports have been rife with topics such as the dynamic pricing of Bruce Springsteen’s tour and frustrated people unable to see one of Taylor Swift’s Eras tour dates.

Then, there’s been the involvement of the US president, Joe Biden, who’s been determinedly campaigning against hidden fees.

The largest ticketing company in the world, Ticketmaster, has long been campaigning for legislation on this issue.

The company’s global president Mark Yovich tells us: “Ticketmaster has shown all-in pricing for many years in a number of territories outside the US, as required by consumer law. Today we operate in over 30 countries and more than two- thirds of those display all-in pricing. We know it’s a better experience for fans and have long advocated for this in countries where it is not mandated. We also give fans in those markets a toggle to see prices including fees upfront.

“In the US, the industry noise is getting louder, and we are hopeful federal legislation is finally in sight, which would be great news for fans. Enforcement will be key to its success, as we have seen unscrupulous sites appearing in search results with misleading pricing even in the US states where all-in pricing is now law.”

“It’s a competitive industry, and we see other ticketing companies trying to win purchases by advertising the lowest ticket price possible – prices that exclude the fees”

Clarity on fees is also supported by Germany-headquartered global giant CTS Eventim. CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg says: “We fully support the goal of giving consumers maximum transparency, particularly on ticketing fees.”

“The president’s commitment to scrap junk fees is a huge step forward for a more enjoyable, more equitable live experience,” DICE CEO Phil Hutcheon told IQ in June. “DICE has always had upfront pricing, and it leads to more fans going out more often and ensures everyone can access the artists they love.”

The stumbling block to a wider roll-out of all-in pricing is that without legislation, the competitive nature of the industry will mean companies who are using fully transparent pricing could lose out to those that don’t. This would leave consumers confused and mean the firms that enact all-in costs could lose traffic to those that aren’t.

“It’s a competitive industry, and we see other ticketing companies trying to win purchases by advertising the lowest ticket price possible – prices that exclude the fees,” says Yovich. “This even happens in states in the US that currently mandate all-in pricing. Where Ticketmaster uses all-in pricing, we show the total price upfront. The discrepancy across platforms makes it impossible for fans to gain the full benefits of comparison shopping.”

He says Ticketmaster wants to see the law changed around the world, to create a level playing field.

“In the ticketing industry, what happens or what’s developed in North America is usually implemented internationally”

What happens in the US often reverberates across the rest of the world. If the US federal government legislates that ticket prices have to reflect the final cost upfront, then will those countries that don’t currently do that follow suit?

“In the ticketing industry, what happens or what’s developed in North America is usually implemented internationally,” says ticketing consultant Tim Chambers. “But will increased government regulation of ticketing or intervention by regulatory authorities follow suit? I’m not sure.

“Ultimately, governments are loath to regulate ticketing. They’ll provide guidelines, but they prefer self-regulation.”

Much of this debate played out in the media after two major on-sales: Bruce Springsteen’s 2023 tour, which drew ire from fans after some tickets reached more than $5,000 due to dynamic pricing, and Taylor Swift’s Eras outing. Presale chaos for her US dates was blamed on a cyberattack by ticket scalpers, who run bots. Although bots were banned in the USA in 2016 and the UK in 2018, they continue to be an issue on all hot tours around the world.

Yovich says the company continues to invest in its anti- bot tools, but adds it wants to see effective, enforceable legislation. “The financial incentives are incredibly high, and penalties are far too low to deter their use.”

“One of the most important factors is definitely how reliable our systems are, even when handling high or extremely high traffic”

Demand for Swift tickets in Australia was so high that at one point there were 4m people on Ticketek’s website at the on-sale – 20% of the country’s population.

“The bot attacks reached about 300m on the first day,” says Cameron Hoy, managing director, Ticketek, and chief digital officer at TEG, the Australia-based firm with ticketing brands across Australasia and the UK. “The resources that it takes to deal with those things are considerable.”

He says the number of attacks from bots is so high because the computer programs are openly being sold on major online sites, so they’re very easy for even novices to acquire and use.

Being able to handle such high levels of demand is crucial for the fan experience, and as such, reliable tech is a key focus for CTS Eventim, as Schulenberg says: “As a technology leader in our market, we strive to offer the best and most powerful solutions in every respect.

“One of the most important factors is definitely how reliable our systems are, even when handling high or extremely high traffic. And our commitment to effectively tackling abuse and fraud – such as using illegal bots. Our EVENTIM.Pass app provides digital-only tickets, which benefits promoters and fans by putting an end to unauthorised ticket resales.”

“We’re lucky to work in a space that’s filled with so much passion”

Ultimately, though, people’s post-Covid desperation to see the hottest concerts, fuelled by a strong sense of FOMO, means there will never be enough tickets for everyone. Social media amplifies their disappointment, with ticketing firms the target of their ire.

Yovich says: “We spend so much time at Ticketmaster pioneering new technologies and refining the fan experience to manage expectations, such as advanced smart queues that provide real-time position status and inventory updates; ticketing that avoids queues altogether through our Request system; and interactive seat maps and ‘view from seat’ options that help fans make informed decisions. There is so much more we are working on that will continue to remove friction.”

TEG’s Hoy says: “How do artists, ticketing companies, and the rest of the industry come together to manage super-high demand on-sales, when we know there is more demand than tickets? One answer could be to run a ballot. I know one of the reasons promoters might feel disinclined to do that is they’re unsure if it will be as hot as people think, but as an industry we can work together to solve this.”

And he says that while ticketing companies often need a thick skin to deal with fans’ disappointment, sometimes the amount of vitriol online can be difficult to handle. “We’re lucky to work in a space that’s filled with so much passion, and we
get to connect people with things that they love. And that’s a privilege in many respects. But there are some days when it can be pretty rough.”

Another reform Hoy would like to see around the world is making ticketing accessible for everyone. “As the world becomes more aware of the significant array of accessibility needs beyond that of mobility, we need a more equitable online purchasing process. The purchase experience should be the same for all members of the community, whether or not they have accessibility needs. That requires the whole industry working together to make sure that from the outset we’ve built the right technology and user interfaces to enable and cater for all needs but also that venues ensure there’s an appropriate amount of inventory available and communicated.”

“AI will revolutionise many of our processes – and it’s already doing so”

Looking to the future, Hoy says AI and machine learning (ML) will play an increasingly important role in the future. “We’ve been doing a lot of work with our data science team for ten years, meaning we can do much more in terms of predictive modelling to help promoters and venues understand demand curve; help inform their investments in particular acts and artists; and to help inform operational delivery, service delivery, and other things.

“I’m really proud of the work that we’ve been doing in building out a data science team that sits in the very centre of our ticketing company. Ticketing businesses are in a uniquely advantaged position to be leveraging AI and ML technologies given the wealth of data generated in the process of delivering our services. We are very focussed on investing further in this space to unlock value for both customers and clients.”

AI is an important part of the work that CTS Eventim does, too, says Schulenberg. “AI will revolutionise many of our processes – and it’s already doing so. It will help us analyse the huge volume of data we’ve aggregated so we can make our recommendations even more accurate and our sales platforms even more powerful. It will help guide marketing campaigns for our partners and support us in refining our after-sales service. With AI, we’ll be able to react faster, better, and more intelligently than ever before – especially with high volumes and short-notice projects. We began engaging with AI a while ago so that we could give our partners access to the best, most powerful tools on the market at any time.”

The rapid pace of change in the ticketing industry shows no sign of slowing up. And with improvements for all ticket- buyers high on many companies’ agendas, the coming 12 months are likely to be as dynamic as the last.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

IQ 116 out now: Ed Sheeran, Gaffer Award, Spain

IQ 116, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine, is available to read online now, with the print edition to land on desks between Christmas and New Year.

Our January 2023 issue is headlined by a special feature on the runaway winner of IQ’s Tour of the YearEd Sheeran‘s remarkable Mathematics Tour – as Derek Robertson speaks to some of the dedicated army of professionals who helped the superstar hitmaker realise his artistic ambitions.

We also turn the spotlight on Billie Eilish’s production manager Nicole Massey, who becomes the first woman to collect The Gaffer Award. Massey talks to Gordon Masson about her professional path and her hopes to see more women attaining positions of power in live music.

Elsewhere, The Architects sees some of the industry’s most visionary professionals reveal their blueprints for the future of live music, and we provide an update on the various events and partners preparing for the 35th edition of the International Live Music Conference, which will be held at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel from 28 February – 3 March 2023.

As well as all that, Adam Woods travels to Spain for his latest market report, while a bumper comments section features ticketing expert Tim Chambers, who gives a different perspective on the incredible presale demand for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. In addition, James Fieldhouse gauges the desire for more merger and consolidation action in 2023 and Attitude is Everything’s Suzanne Bull urges more events to sign up to the organisation’s accessibility programme.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ from just £6.25 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ IndexIQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

170,000 UK live music jobs lost by end of 2020

More than 26,000 permanent jobs will be lost in the live music industry before the end of the year if government support is withdrawn, new research published today (21 October) reveals.

In addition, 144,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) roles, including self-employed and freelance workers, will have effectively ceased to exist by the end of 2020, the new report, UK live music: At a cliff edge, shows.

Revenue into the industry has been almost zero since March, with a fall of 81% in 2020 compared to 2019 – four times the national UK average, where reductions across industries run at around 20%.

At a cliff edge – conducted by Chris Carey and Tim Chambers for Media Insight Consulting on behalf of LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment), an umbrella group representing the UK live music industry – also reveals the positive contribution made by the Culture Recovery Fund, which has offered a lifeline to a range of businesses, but whose impact is tempered by 80% of employees still being reliant on the furlough scheme, which ends this month.

The report’s findings include:

“This research shows clearly that the entire ecosystem is being decimated”

Following the lockdown in March, and the ongoing government restrictions on venues and events, many of those working within the live music sector have received no income at all. The new tier-two and three restrictions put further limitations on the sector reopening, while the sector is currently excluded from the government’s extended Job Support Scheme.

With recent indications from the prime minister that severe restrictions could be in place for a further six months, meaning a full year with next-to-no live music or revenues, the associations represented by Live – including the Entertainment Agents’ Association, Association for Electronic Music (AFEM), Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Concert Promoters Association (CPA), Music Managers Forum (MMF), National Arenas Association (NAA), Production Services Association (PSA) and Music Venue Trust (MVT) – are calling on the government to ensure the live business can benefit from new support measures.

Phil Bowdery, CPA chair, comments: “We were one of the first sectors to close and we will be one of the last to reopen. We are currently caught in a catch 22, where we are unable to operate due to government restrictions but are excluded from the extended Job Support Scheme as the furlough comes to an end. If businesses can’t access that support soon, then the majority of our specialist, highly trained workforce will be gone.”

“Those who have often found themselves overlooked and left behind throughout the last six months are the freelancers and self-employed – the people up and do the country that we rely on to bring us the live experiences we love,” adds PSA general manager Andy Lenthall. “Things are becoming increasingly desperate for a great many people in the industry and government needs to recognise that these crucial individuals need support.”

““Things are becoming increasingly desperate for a great many people in the industry”

Economist Chris Carey, who co-authored the report, says: “From the artists on stage, to the venues and the many specialist roles and occupations that make live music happen, this research shows clearly that the entire ecosystem is being decimated.”

The report includes sector-specific data on artists, managers, promoters, booking agents, venues, festivals, ticketing companies and technical suppliers, as well as case studies from some of those affected and comment from industry leaders.

“The Culture Recovery Fund is a help, especially to grassroots music venues,” continues Carey. “However, larger companies are going to be hit harder, and without ongoing government investment in protecting this industry, the UK will lose its place as a cultural leader in live entertainment.

“Moreover, the skills we lose in this time will significantly hinder the sector’s ability to recover and return to driving economic growth and supplying UK jobs.”

Download the report here.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ IndexIQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Authenticity, AR, facial recognition: The future of ticket tech

From methods of tackling fraud to improving the visitor experience, ticketing firms are exploring a variety of tools.

High on everyone’s minds is the rapid rise of mobile tickets – as frequently reported in the market profiles throughout ITY 2019. But this is just the start of a mobile-first paradigm shift.

“We’ve got a generation of new consumers coming through now and they don’t just expect their services to be on mobile, they expect them to be mobile first,” says industry veteran Steve Machin, global director of ticketing strategy and innovation at FanDragon. “People are buying tickets now who don’t ‘go online’ to do something, they just use their phone. This move to mobile will make the shift away from CDs look like a slow meander.”

Security is the top priority, says international ticketing consultant Tim Chambers. “Unfortunately, prevention of fraud costs time and resources and all too often organisations fail to plan for worst case, without any regard as to how to recover post-incident, and assume they’ll continue to get away without specialised focus.”

He adds: “Related to this is the issue of combatting automated bots that impact site availability (DDoS), on-sale queueing, event webpage reload, ticket purchase and other operational factors. Unfortunately, as an industry, too little has been done with shared expertise, best practice or market intel.”

Maureen Andersen, president and CEO of the International Ticketing Association (Intix), thinks ticket authenticity is a significant focus for companies when considering how new technology can help them.

“As an industry, too little has been done with shared expertise, best practice or market intel”

“Tickets delivered to your mobile is well established, but what will be more important in this matter is that the distribution is tied to your mobile, for example, by using a barcode that’s refreshed frequently. Ticketmaster has now released SafeTix, which is not unlike other technologies out there, but that the largest ticketing company in the world has done this shows how important authenticity is.”

Launched in May 2019, SafeTix uses a barcode that changes every few seconds, meaning it can’t be copied or screenshotted. Fans can transfer tickets to friends or family using mobile phone numbers or an email address. A new digital ticket is tied to the recipient’s account and phone, each time a ticket is transferred or sold, making the journey of each ticket visible to organisers.

Of course, knowing who all the attendees are provides venues and companies with a rich source of data – an opportunity to track what experiences are valuable to any given consumer.

Generation Z is more comfortable with being tracked in exchange for a fast service, says Andersen. “They know they leave a digital footprint, but they want information right in their hand and they want it immediately. They understand they’re being tracked and they’re okay with it because they get served options and they’re all about options.”

She points to statistics showing that in Las Vegas while 68% of visitors attend a show or event, two thirds of them decide what to see after their arrival, and 60% of event tickets are sold within 72 hours of event. “This is because people are waiting to look at all the options that are fed to them before they make a decision. They’re in the moment. It’s only the older generation that’s worried about being tracked.”

Nonetheless, we are moving towards a world where consumers will have more control over their data. That will affect not just the ticketing industry but all sectors of public-facing commerce, from the motor industry to travel.

“People are waiting to look at all the options that are fed to them before they make a decision”

“This means we will need to be able to deliver hyper-relevant services to individuals even when you don’t know who they are,” says Machin. “You’ll be tracking behaviour in an anonymised way. This is one of the benefits of blockchain.”

FanDragon’s ticket-wallet feature means while the person owning the wallet remains anonymous, their behaviour can be analysed. For example, if a wallet buys tickets every time a certain artist comes to their town, but suddenly stops, that sort of information might be interesting to the client. Similarly, if a wallet has 600 tickets in it, it’s a scalper.

“Tickets are no longer simply ‘a revocable licence to attend the event listed on the front,’ they are a personal communication hub,” says Machin. “Once you buy a ticket, you can have experiences, messaging or content delivered to your phone because the organiser knows you’re going and who you’re going with. It means the event experience can start much sooner. It’s a much deeper relationship but that requires greater responsibility not to impinge on people’s privacy and data.”

My face is my ticket
Using your face to unlock a smartphone has been commonplace since Apple launched FaceID in 2017 (other earlier phones used facial recognition but it could be easily hacked). But when Live Nation Entertainment invested in biometric company Blink Identity in 2018, the prospect of being able to walk into a venue without needing to get your phone or paper ticket out took a step closer to becoming reality.

Justin Burleigh, LN-owned Ticketmaster’s global chief product officer, says: “We didn’t want to have a database of millions of customers’ faces, so instead this technology uses the same mechanism as the facial recognition tech that unlocks many smartphones. By scanning a face and converting that information into code, it negates the need for storing images of people’s faces.

“Facial recognition will be able to create some really compelling experiences for backstage, or VIP personnel control. For example, if you’re carrying some beers and food it will mean you don’t have to reach into your pocket for your phone or ticket to gain access.”

“Facial recognition will be able to create some really compelling experiences for backstage, or VIP personnel control”

However, he adds, “We have a lot more to do in the lab before this gets rolled out. We want to get it right because we know if we get it wrong we won’t be given a second chance.”

It’s not just the world’s biggest ticketing company that’s interested in the technology. Former Ticketmaster CEO and later head of commerce at Twitter, Nathan Hubbard, recently announced a facial recognition-powered ticketing platform of his own, Rival. Its first client is Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, owner of Denver’s Pepsi Center (20,000-cap.), although migrating from AXS had some teething problems.

And while there may be what Machin calls some “ickiness” around the idea of facial recognition at music events at the moment, the technology’s use at airport security is commonplace. And as people become more comfortable with it in this context, that will smooth the path for its arrival in entertainment.

Enhanced real life
Augmented reality is becoming increasingly sophisticated and more common in live entertainment, so how will the ticketing industry respond to that? Andersen reckons the answer will be driven by how much consumers want to buy into these things and what they want to experience.

“Whereas a 50-year-old might want to come into a venue and sit down, buy a hot dog and watch the show, somebody younger wants to engage with technology that recognises them as an individual. You could be watching the game from your seat but also see it from the players’ perspective by looking at your device.”

Other examples include creating 3D virtual venue models that can be expanded using AR. This could mean being able to see a model of the venue before you go to a show and finding out where everything is, as well as seeing sponsorship activations, and even connecting it to a Facebook account to see where your friends are sitting. You could find out where the bar queues are shortest, or where to get your favourite pretzel.

“SafeTix is not unlike other technologies out there, but that the largest ticketing company in the world has done this shows how important authenticity is”

Looking forward
That’s the present situation. But what nascent tech or business models might we see in the near future?

Ticketmaster’s Burleigh says he is excited to see new hardware come online, such as more powerful NFC tech, which would mean people don’t have to take their phone out of their pockets to scan on entry. He would also like to see more powerful cashless opportunities across venues. Andersen suggests a subscription-based model could have potential in the future.

“Like a Netflix model, where you buy something today and have access to it later – for example, if you want to go to a big game or play-off you can get access to early booking because you’ve paid a subscription.”

It’s not without precedent. In the cinema industry, MoviePass allowed people to go see films for a monthly subscription fee. Currently, the venture is in difficulty as the company behind it struggles to control its cash burn. However, US cinema chains AMC Theatres and Cinemark are also running subscription models with some success. AMC’s programme, which allows customers to see three movies a week for $19.95 a month, has over 900,000 subscribers. Could that model be transferred to live? While it’s unlikely to work for the largest companies and artists, it could be more viable for grassroots-level venues and promoters.

Whatever the future holds for ticket tech, Chambers predicts that the fragmented nature of all the options means there will need to be open-API schemes to ensure that a seamless customer delivery service is provided: multiple backends but unified consumer experience.

“This is increasingly evident in [London’s] West End theatre or with the NFL ticket retail and distribution agreements, and will inevitably spread to other sectors and territories to become much more commonplace,” he says.

For more insight into the state of the global ticketing industry, read IQ’s International Ticketing Yearbook 2019.

 



Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Tim Chambers joins Tixserve

Leading industry consultant Tim Chambers has joined the board of Tixserve, the white-label digital ticketing company has announced.

Chambers has worked in the live entertainment market for more than 20 years, having previously held the post of VP of European development at Ticketmaster and SVP of international corporate development for Live Nation Entertainment. He is also the founder of TicketWeb in the UK and executive editor of IQ’s International Ticketing Yearbook.

Tixserve, which launched last February, is the developer of a B2B digital ticket fulfilment solution for ticketing platforms and retailers. Its proprietary ‘track-and-trace’ technology promises to tackle problem of ticket resale for high-profile events by enabling organisers to know for certain who exactly is holding a ticket. It also empowers artists, promoters and sports event organisers to decide whether a ticket can be exchanged or resold.

Dublin-based Tixserve has secured €250,000 in funding from Enterprise Ireland as part of its High Potential Start-up (HPSU) programme. One of the company’s private investors, meanwhile, is Sir Michael Smurfit, one of Ireland’s most successful businessmen.

“The live entertainment sector is often slow to adopt the benefits of new technologies,” comments Chambers, who also a non-executive director of Evvnt, Make it Social and TickX.

“Tim brings a rich international experience and will help to steer the company as we target large global opportunities”

“It no longer makes sense to rely solely on paper tickets – especially when you look at the tremendous capabilities of a secure Tixserve digital ticket. The future of ticketing must incorporate seamless digital distribution with mobile authentication, and enhanced consumer services including event timings, line-ups and biographies, location maps and added value merchandise up-sale opportunities. Tixserve does all of this and more.”

Adds Tixserve managing director and co-founder Patrick Kirby: “The Tixserve digital ticket fulfilment platform is a secure white-label solution that can be used by existing ticket sellers to enhance the experience for ticket-purchasers, reduce costs and generate new revenue streams.

“Since our launch in 2017, we have successfully concluded a number of extensive private field trials with well-known venues and ticket agents in the United Kingdom and [Republic of] Ireland and we look forward to announcing details of commercial partnerships with these clients very soon.

“Tim Chambers brings a rich international experience and will help to steer the company as we target large global opportunities in the live event ticketing industry.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.