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: https://www.musicweek.com/media/read/music-week-awards-2023-finalists-revealed-ahead-of-may-24-ceremony/087504.
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.