Jun 28, 2024 2 min read

Former Ticketmaster exec pleads guilty over Songkick server hacking

When Songkick sued Live Nation in the mid-2010s, it emerged that Ticketmaster execs had illegally accessed its rivals servers using logins of a former Songkick employee. The lawsuit was settled but a criminal investigation into the hacking continued. The former Songkick exec has now pleaded guilty

Former Ticketmaster exec pleads guilty over Songkick server hacking

Former Ticketmaster executive Stephen Mead pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer intrusions in a New York court earlier this week. That relates to the illegal accessing of digital files belonging to a former employer while working for the Live Nation ticketing company between 2013 and 2015. 

That former employer was Crowdsurge, the direct-to-fan ticketing platform that later merged with gig recommendations service Songkick. According to Law360, in court earlier this week Mead admitted that, after joining Ticketmaster in 2013, he gave logins and passwords he had used while working at Crowdsurge to his new colleagues so that they could access information about their rival “to try and give Ticketmaster a commercial advantage”. 

According to prosecutors, Mead had access to confidential information while working at Crowdsurge that he had agreed to not disclose after he left the company. And yet, it was alleged, he then shared with his Ticketmaster colleagues documents he had kept from his time at Crowdsurge as well as logins to access his former employer’s servers. 

An email from 2014 suggested that both Mead and his Ticketmaster colleagues knew about the risks of accessing those servers. In the email, Mead highlighted that he was giving a colleague access to a live tool and therefore “I would be careful in what you click on as it would be best not to giveaway that we are snooping around”.

This all came to light in 2017 as part of a big legal battle between the merged Crowdsurge/Songkick and Live Nation. Songkick first sued Live Nation at the end of 2015 accusing the live giant of anticompetitive conduct, in particular around ticket pre-sale campaigns, which was an area where Songkick was increasingly operating. 

The allegations that Mead had illegally accessed Songkick files while at Ticketmaster were added to the lawsuit in February 2017. The lawsuit was ultimately settled in 2018, by which point the song recommendations service had been sold to Warner Music and the Crowdsurge ticketing platform had been wound down. 

However, that didn't end things, because the US Attorney’s Office in New York had begun an investigation into Ticketmaster and its employees in relation to the illegal accessing of the Crowdsurge servers.

In 2021, Ticketmaster itself agreed to pay a $10 million fine and introduced a new compliance and ethics programme in order to avoid prosecution under the US Computer Fraud And Abuse Act. However, the case against Mead personally continued. 

Having pleaded guilty this week to conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, Mead could now be sentenced to up to five years in prison. As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, he has agreed not to appeal a sentence of one year or less. 

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