Ticketing, another round-up, of sorts

9th April 2023

Following last week’s Op-Ed on the ‘Music Week Awards’ which led to a number of comments regarding the undesirability of conspicuous dining with formal attire to applaud cultural achievement, with some questioning the validity of trade recognition or the appropriate way to acknowledge outstanding professional careers, and/or corporate milestones, this week it’s back to a Sunday morning review of ticketing and other entertainment-related matters.

Being a longstanding ‘grubby retailer’ of culture, I’m always interested in news items relating to ticket sales and the development of incremental revenues.

Recently there has been a few reports highlighting the post-pandemic return of the bundling of event tickets + travel.

Specifically, that for some attendees of Tier #1 events – whether concerts, festivals, or sports – some ticket purchasers are restricting their frequency of event attendance and opting to spend more, of their disposable income, on fewer higher priced experiences.

What noted economist Will Page has previously identified as the phenomenon of ‘go big or stay home’ (Financial Times, 12th August 2022). He further stated that the growth of stadium-based musical spectacle is because ‘In a market with more choice, we demand more hits.’

Other observers have identified the concept of the festival ‘staycation’ where consumers are transferring the expense of an annual holiday to attending a music festival. 

There is also the increased number of Las Vegas residencies (expanding from legacy acts to contemporary artists), or touring concerts with a dizzying number of ‘official’ ticketing bundles and packages aimed at capturing the previously independent travellers (both US domestic or international) and upselling accommodation + VIP experiences, thus positively impacting ‘show grosses’.

With perhaps the most sophisticated operation being OnLocation ( the ‘Official Hospitality Provider of the NFL’, which provides ‘official game tickets, deluxe hotel accommodations, private tours, pregame hospitality, end-to-end planning and more’.

Concert Tourism

Robin Raven (Forbes, March 19th) suggested that ‘thousands’ of fans for the opening of Taylor Swift’s ‘The Eras’ tour at the State Farm Stadium, Glendale had travelled to Arizona for the opening weekend. This figure was seemingly based upon interviews with fans from North Carolina & Boston in the V.I.P. section and their claims to have meet others ‘who travelled from Massachusetts like us, Vermont, Washington, Georgia, New York, and even Canada!’

So not exactly an analysis of credit card address verification.

Nevertheless, Jennah Haque & Augusta Saraiva (Bloomberg, March 31st) similarly stated that Taylor Swift fans had travelled hundreds of miles to see her in concert, again without offering anything more than observational evidence that the city of Malta, Montana is at least 400 miles from the nearest Eras concert date.

The article also described how one fan had rejiggered her kitchen to become a Ticketmaster control room’ where she, and her friends had eight laptops, verified fan codes, and (preferred pre-sale) credit cards that offered early (ticket) access.

A (less generous?) perspective is that there is very little difference between scalpers and fans in the layers of technologies and accounts necessary to succeed in a ticket purchase.

Musical Cruises

As also noted by Dave Wakeman in his Talking Tickets newsletter, Steve Knopper (Billboard 30th March) profiled Sixthman (a subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Line), an Atlanta-based promoter of festivals, occasionally ashore, but more typically afloat, whom currently have eighteen events scheduled during 2023 ranging from Joe Bonamassa,Coheed & Cambria, the ‘Headbangers Boat’ (featuring Lamb of God, Mastodon, Hatebreed and GWAR) and others including Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog Cruise.

Sixthman have identified artists with loyal, affluent fan bases – big enough to fill a 2,500- to 4,000-passenger cruise, but generally not an arena’.

Private Shows

Dan Runcie, in his excellent blog (Trapital – 27th March) also noted the growing importance of private concerts for corporations and their executives, to target and entertain clients, suppliers and other VIP’s.

He baldly states ‘It’s less about the revenue generated from the event. It’s more about the products that the event helps sell’.

Runcie also notes that some of these private shows are underwritten by individuals, corporations or states of dubious human rights, politics, or customs.

He generously offers that artists may feel the fiscal pressure to take the easy, albeit sometimes controversial, money. Whereas I still hear the refrain ‘Show me the money!’

Live Is Booming, But …

And lastly, Ben Sisario (New York Times – 7th April) notes that whilst 2023 will undoubtedly be a record-breaking year with the ending of the pandemic restrictions and tours by Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, Drake, Madonna, Morgan Wallen, Metallica etc.

But that for the average music fan, the once simple act of buying a ticket is now often a frustrating mess of high prices and surcharges, anxiety-inducing presale registrations, pervasive scalping and crushing competition for the most in-demand shows.’

So, work still to be done on the consumer experience then.



TJ Chambers – Celebrating the best in the music business … and ticketing

Will Page – Roar of the live music crowd drowns out stadium income from sport

Robin Raven – Concert Tourism Is Thriving: Fans Travel To Celebrate Taylor Swift’s Kickoff To The Eras Tour

Jennah Haque & Augusta Saraiva – Taylor Swift Fans Travel Hundreds of Miles to See Her in Concert


Dave Wakeman – Innovation in Tickets: More than Technology!

Dan Runcie – What Private Gigs Tell Us About the Music Industry

Ben Sisario – Live Music Is Roaring Back. But Fans Are Reeling From Sticker Shock.



Celebrating the best in the music business … and ticketing

So, last May (2022), whilst organising my social calendar, I noted the (then) forthcoming MusicWeek Awards, which claimed to be ‘Celebrating the best in the music business’ and included a shortlist for the ‘Ticketing Company’ of the year.

A single award for ticketing, whose ecommerce monetisation technologies, staffing services and mechanical/operational expertise which underpins and enables the entire live music sector, seemed a little stingy.

Not least because how else are audiences meant to discover, attend, and compensate artists & attractions without the utilisation of retail ticketing services. Further how are artists, promoters, venues, and other Rights Owners meant to manage event manifests, identify customers, and validate individual point-of-entry for health, safety, and post-event marketing purposes?

And quite how MusicWeek expected anyone to compare/contrast the variously scaled organisations encompassing differing ticketing service providers or marketplaces, made any judging criteria difficult to identify.

Celebrating the best in the music business … | @MusicWeek Awards 2022

The 2022 shortlist was:

Ents24 – an event discovery, listing and ticketing site, headquartered in Bristol.

Event Genius – a B-2-B ticketing platform, acquired by Festicket in August 2019 which then fell into administration in September 2022, before the assets were subsequently acquired by the US-based Lyte ticket exchange platform.

Eventim – the UK ticketing services subsidiary of CTS Eventim, the predominately European-based promoting & ticketing conglom.

Skiddle – the independent ticket agency specialising in nightclubs, festivals and more, headquartered near Preston.

Ticketmaster UK – the largest ticket retail agency and ticketing services platform in the UK, subsidiary of the self-described ‘global market leader’, and division of Live Nation Entertainment ‘the world’s leading live entertainment company’.

Twickets – a P-2-P ticket resale platform whose shareholders include various artist management, artist agency and concert promoter representatives and companies.

Nevertheless, despite the heterogeneous mix, the declared winner was, Ticketmaster UK.

Fast forward eleven months and the MusicWeek Awards 2023 finalists are revealed to again celebrate various notable industry figures, promotional campaigns, and radio shows, across twenty-four categories of Awards:

There are micro-industry classifications of Independent Publisher (Sponsored by PRS); Independent Record Company; Manager of the Year; Publisher of the Year (Sponsored by PRS); and Record Company of the Year (Sponsored by Confetti Media).

Whilst other awards accentuate various niche music marketing functions and campaigns apparently worthy of acclaim: A&R (Sponsored by BPI); Artist Marketing; Catalogue Marketing; International Marketing Team; Label/Artist Services; Music & Brand Partnership; Music Consumer Innovation; PR Campaign; Promotions Team (Sponsored by Radiomonitor); Radio Show; Radio Station (Sponsored by PPL); Sales Team (Sponsored by OCC); and Sync Team.

And now that the pandemic is apparently in the rear-view (although the grassroots and mid-scale live music sector in particular continues to be impacted by macro-economic factors such as the cost-of-living crisis, and rising energy prices, in combination with the ongoing logistical fallout of COVID-19), live-orientated awards include: Grassroots Venue (Supported by Music Venue Trust) for which votes were collated from the public (note: voting ended 5pm London 31st March 2023); Live Music Agency; Live Music Promoter; and the return of Festival of the Year.

Unlike within the recording, publishing and sync music sectors, in the live music industry there isn’t the same opportunity for extension of brand and/or advertorial opportunity for quasi-governmental collection agencies or sector-specific reporting bureau, and so the ‘live’ awards tend to crudely group similar-ish organisations.

For example, within the festival’s award there are those franchises owned by various multi-national congloms listed against independent operators, where some of the finalists attract tens of thousands of attendees to various greenfield sites, whilst also in the same award there is a regional music showcase & conference event, and an artist-compiled residency at the Southbank Centre, London.

Similarly, it’s equally unclear (again) what comparison criteria is being utilised within the Ticketing Company nominees:

The intrinsic opaqueness and silo-competitiveness of the various ticketing operators and the fragmentation of differing services and technologies (whether D-2-C, B-2-B, B-2-C, or P-2-P solutions and platforms) doesn’t make like-for-like comparisons easy, nor within the awards is there an appreciation of differing operational scale and activities, and lastly there doesn’t seem to be the same approach for example to ‘independent’ versus ‘major’.

So, one finalist is the largest retail agency and ticketing solutions provider in the UK.

Others include the local subsidiary of a US vertically-aligned concert & festival promoter, venue operator and ticketing platform, and similarly there are two German-headquartered congloms, all of whom derive a proportion (but not all) of their ticket sales from jointly-owned promoters and venues.

Another is a PE-backed mobile-ticketing operator, whilst the category also includes an event discovery & ticketing platform which focuses on Black Music & Culture. And, lastly there are two ‘ethical’ / ‘authorised’ ticketing exchange & resale platforms.

So just how do you compare/contrast?

How to applaud an individual ticketing operator when the technologies and services, revenues and market-reach, systems and scale don’t enable easy comparison?

Or is it simply a mixture of MusicWeek editorial favourites?

A compilation of media-friendly organisations who are regular or notable filers of news and corporate press releases?

Surely, it’s not a cynical marketing-led (‘vanity’) industry awards reflective of how many adverts are sold trumpeting finalist status, or determined by the number of sit-down dinners purchased (with top-priced tables for ten @ £4,499 + VAT apparently already sold-out).

Oh, and do the MusicWeek Awards actually mean anything?

I ask because let’s not forget the last category, the MusicWeek Accountancy Firm of the Year, because nothing says ‘music’ like bean-counting.


Presumably my invite (+1) is in the post?