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#500 Looking back: Same old song…

So, after five years, what has changed? Well, quite a lot as it happens. Join us as we step back in time to find out what the eye-catching stories were around our launch in September 2016 – and how they have continued to shape our industry to the current day…

Keeping up the pressure…

Five years ago, the FanFair Alliance was accusing StubHub of trying to “buy legitimacy” by securing the sponsorship of the 2016 Q Awards. Half a decade on, the group is as keen as ever to champion the rights of ticket holders – and be a thorn in the side of some of the sector’s biggest names. Only yesterday, the alliance voiced concerns about the sale of StubHub’s international business to a private equity firm after Viagogo’s acquisition of StubHub was finally approved by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)…

Rollercoaster journey

Back in September 2016, Ticketfly was on a roll, signing up US concert promoter Jam Productions as its latest client a year on from its $450m takeover by Pandora. But a rollercoaster journey would eventually come off the rails for what was once a major ticketing brand. Ticketfly was acquired by Eventbrite for $200m in 2017 and then, a year later, it was the subject of a major security breach featuring the personal details of 26 million users. In late 2018, Ticketfly was shut down, with its music-focused features merged into Eventbrite’s platform.

Singing in the rain

Songkick and Ticketmaster were caught up in a bitter legal battle around the launch of this newsletter, with the former accusing the latter of destroying evidence in an antitrust suit in California. In the end, arguably nobody won. By the time the long-running dispute finally concluded nearly a year-and-a-half later, Songkick had collapsed, with Ticketmaster’s owner buying its defunct rivals assets and agreeing a costly out-of-court settlement. 

Image: Braden Hopkins on Unsplash


In September 2016, Manchester City fans were up in arms about controversial photo ID checks for ticket collection at UEFA Champions League games, with a petition ultimately forcing the club to scrap the scheme. Nowadays, it is City’s rival United in the news with fan-facing inspections that could not have been foreseen five years ago. This weekend, spot checks will be carried out to ensure Old Trafford ticket-holders for the game against Newcastle United have the correct COVID-19 certification. The club expects such measures to be mandatory anyway in the coming weeks.

Bots clampdown

Bots were a hot topic five years ago, with Eventbrite committing to developing software to tackle the problem, while a UK Government Minister proposed prison terms for those who use such technology to acquire tickets in bulk solely for the purpose of selling them at inflated prices. It took a while, but lawmakers are finally beginning to get to grips with the issue, in some countries at least. This year, three New York-based ticket resellers were handed civil penalties totalling more than $30m in the first cases under the new Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act.

Eventim and out

Sometimes there is just an uncanny symmetry. We have covered literally thousands of appointments over the years, but the very first was Nick Blackburn agreeing to step in as interim CEO at Eventim UK, replacing Simon Presswell. What has been one of the most significant ‘job moves’ in recent days? The announcement of Blackburn’s upcoming departure as Eventim UK chairman at the end of this month.

Onwards and upwards

In announcing its Q2 figures for 2016, industry giant Ticketmaster outlined plans to make more of its tickets available through other distribution platforms after deals with the likes of Facebook boosted its outlook. Nobody could have predicted the devastation that awaited the live entertainment sector in 2020. Last month, though, Ticketmaster revealed that it had experienced its busiest ever month in June. More challenges lie ahead as the sector returns to its feet, of course, but as we look forward to the next five years of TheTicketingBusiness, the shoots of recovery are growing by the day.

Image: Roger Harris on Unsplash