Business News Legal Live Business

Emails in Songkick case see Live Nation dissing Team Adele

By | Published on Tuesday 14 November 2017


Those of you wondering what had happened to the big Songkick v Live Nation fist fight that was due to get going in the US courts this month, well, the judge overseeing the case seemingly agreed to push the proceedings back into the new year because of delays in the discovery process meaning both sides wanted more time to prepare.

In the absence of full-on fisticuffs (well, courtroom action), Ticket News has unearthed some emails among the evidence amassed in the case where Live Nation execs call Adele’s team “pigs”. So that’s fun.

As much previously reported, the Songkick company – which combined the original Songkick gig recommendations service and the Crowdsurge direct-to-fan ticketing platform – sued Live Nation in 2015 accusing the live music major of anti-competitive behaviour. The key allegation was Live Nation – as a concert promoter, venue operator, artist manager and Ticketmaster owner – was exploiting its market dominance to stop artists from working with Songkick on ticket pre-sales to fan club members.

The original lawsuit has since been both streamlined and extended. The additions were mainly new allegations made by Songkick that staff at Ticketmaster stole trade secrets from the start-up and used them to develop its own rival service. These new claims mainly centred on a former Crowdsurge employee who had subsequently joined Ticketmaster.

Meanwhile, as the legal battle has slowly worked its way through the motions, the Songkick company sold its gig recommendations app to Warner Music and shut down its ticketing platform, blaming Ticketmaster for the service’s demise.

A stack of documents have been shared during the discovery phase of the litigation, and among all that Ticket News has stumbled across “exhibit 321”, a series of emails from 2015 between Live Nation employees, including boss man Michael Rapino, about Adele’s decision to use Songkick to handle fan club ticket sales for her 2016 world tour. Needless to say, they were not pleased by that development.

In said emails, they seemingly discuss how Live Nation usually allows artists 8% of ticket inventory for fan club pre-sales, even where it technically controls all of the tickets for a show, mainly as a goodwill gesture. Referencing Adele’s team, Rapino then writes: “We will hold to that in US when it comes up, but given they are being pigs on this I am sure both Kirk and Lucy will ask for it all”.

Later they discuss news that the there mentioned ‘Kirk’ has been trying to get as big a ticket allocation as possible from venues hosting Adele shows, including venues with exclusivity deals with Ticketmaster. Referencing Crowdsurge’s founder and subsequent Songkick CEO Matt Jones, one exec then remarks: “Clearly this is Matt Jones/Songkick at work, similar to what they did in the UK. He has the hottest artist in the world right now, best one to test TM’s exclusive relationships”.

They subsequently note that Adele’s team wants to work with Songkick/Crowdsurge because it has seemingly developed a system to ensure tickets allocated to those on her mailing list definitely end up with fans, and that touts are locked out of the pre-sale. Which was, indeed, something Songkick was pushing a great deal at the time.

Responding to that, a Live Nation exec called Jared Smith says “There is no algorithm to determine true fans… that’s Crowdsurge BS”. Which is amusing given that – as Ticket News points out – Ticketmaster subsequently¬†launched its own Verified Fan platform¬†which “uses algorithms and unique data analysis to identify and remove anyone using unfair tactics to access tickets”.

Whether or not any of these emails will actually help Songkick in its bid to prove that Live Nation breached competition law in the way it dealt with artists seeking to use rival companies for pre-sale and fan club ticketing campaigns remains to be seen. Though there could be plenty more amusing and embarrassing documents yet to be unveiled as this dispute finally heads to court.

Read more emails contained in “exhibit 321” on Ticket News here.