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Songkick files new legal papers in Live Nation battle, as Ticketmaster partners with Bandsintown

By | Published on Thursday 24 March 2016

Live Nation

Songkick has filed new legal papers in relation to its ongoing litigation against Live Nation, accusing the live giant of interfering even more in its growing pre-sales business in retaliation for going legal late last year.

As previously reported, Songkick sued Live Nation last December, alleging that the live entertainment firm – which is a significant player in tour and festival promotion, venues, ticketing and artist management – was holding the artists it works with to ransom, especially in the US, if they decided to collaborate with the gig recommendations service on fan club pre-sales.

Although best known as a concert data firm and gig recommendations service – which traditionally encouraged users to click through to Ticketmaster-type platforms if they wanted to attend recommended gigs, taking an affiliate commission for its trouble – Songkick has been increasingly moving into ticketing itself.

This began with the launch of a proprietary in-app ticket selling service, then expanded with the start-up’s merger with direct-to-fan platform Crowdsurge, and more recently Songkick has been working with artists on selling tickets to fans before they go on general release, getting widespread media attention for its efforts to ensure that pre-sale tickets for Adele’s current tour didn’t go to the touts.

In its original lawsuit last year, Songkick said that Live Nation had specifically urged artists it works with to not allow the rival ticketing firm to get involved with pre-sales, and that it had also applied fees to pre-sale tickets sold by Songkick that made the start-up’s business unviable. This, Songkick alleged, was Live Nation exploiting its market dominance in tour promotion to hinder any competitors to its Ticketmaster business.

In its response to the litigation, Live Nation has reportedly said that while it is customary to give artists an allocation of tickets to sell direct to signed-up fans – the exact allocation varying according to deal, and often country – as the promoter it still ultimately controls those tickets and therefore is within its rights to dictate terms about how they are sold.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in a new legal filing submitted earlier this week Songkick now alleges that Live Nation has recently “retaliated” over its decision to sue the live giant last year by putting even more barriers in place for its pre-sale business. Says the Journal: “According to the filing, Live Nation has been demanding that Songkick pay the company what it would have earned if Ticketmaster, rather than Songkick, had conducted the concert pre-sales for Songkick’s artist clients”.

The new filing also alleges that a senior Ticketmaster exec has admitted that the new demands Live Nation is now making are a direct result of Songkick’s December lawsuit. It then concludes that “this retaliation, if not enjoined, will drive Songkick out of the artist pre-sale ticketing business in the US”. An initial court hearing on the dispute is expected next month.

Meanwhile, Ticketmaster has just announced a new partnership with Songkick competitor Bandsintown, which will mean that when that gig recommendations app tips a show for which Ticketmaster is the primary seller, users will be able to buy off the Live Nation ticketing firm within the Bandsintown app. Usually Bandsintown has to force another app or web page to open whenever a user opts to buy a ticket, but the new integration will make the ticket buying experience more seamless.

Announcing the new alliance, Bandsintown CEO Fabrice Sergent said: “Our main goal at Bandsintown is getting more music fans to concerts. Today, the app drives seven million leads a month to primary ticketing sites. By building on Ticketmaster’s new capabilities, we have dramatically improved the user experience, strengthening artists’ and promoters’ ability to sell out shows”.