Live Nation Italy managing director Roberto de Luca confirmed in a TV interview that he sometimes sold inventory directly to secondary sites not owned by LN/Ticketmaster, leading competing promoters to cry foul and Italian artists to distance themselves from the global concert giant.
He was confronted by Italian journalist Matteo Viviani with a set of agreements between Live Nation and, in at least one case, Viagogo. The documents, which were sent to Viviani anonymously, show that in one particular case Live Nation took a 90 percent cut of profits from tickets sold on the secondary platform.
Other documents show other promoters and other types of agreements, but the bottom line is the same: promoters sold tickets to secondary sites before they went on general sale, based on those agreements.
Viviani also spoke with a woman working at a ticket resale site, who confirms that these types of agreements are commonplace. De Luca said he was aware that what he did was “borderline” but added that it wasn’t always his choice, suggesting he was pressured by artists and his superiors. The practice could also be called borderline because Eventim’s Ticketone has the exclusive online sales rights for tickets in Italy until 2017.
On the same TV program, Viviani also confronts Ticketone CEO Andrea Grancini with the documents. He confirms that the documents constitute a breach of contract with Ticketone. After the TV program aired, some Italian acts – including Tiziano Ferro, Giorgia, Cesare Cremonini and Marco Mengoni – took an anti-secondary-ticketing stance. Vasco Rossi, one of Italy’s most famous artists, said he suspended his relationship with Live Nation, and that he reserved the right to take legal action against Live Nation Italy.
Live Nation Italy has since released a statement claiming that the alleged practice applies only to international artists.
Pollstar reached out to veteran Italian promoter Claudio Trotta, who was also interviewed by Viviani for said TV program. Trotta is the owner of Barley Arts and has been a vocal critic of secondary ticketing for more than 10 years.
He contacted Live Nation Italy through his lawyer via letter to establish the facts and inform the promoter about his intention to file a criminal complaint for unfair competition and image damages. Trotta’s lawyer believes that the statements made in the de Luca interview “provide conclusive evidence that Live Nation Italia S.r.l. is jointly responsible for the so called online touting activity that led to an exorbitant increase in the cost of concert tickets of numerous artists.”
He thinks that the recent revelations “will cause serious and irreparable damage to the whole music industry.” The lawyer also points out that Live Nation, through its deal with Viagogo, engaged in “unfair competition against other agencies and thus also against Barley Arts Promotion s.r.l.”
There’s a back story to the current incident: at the beginning of this year, after unauthorized Bruce Springsteen tickets ended up on secondary sites, promoter Trotta filed a criminal complaint with the Public Prosecutor in Milan against numerous secondary ticketing websites.
The complaint led to charges against unknown persons for computer fraud and impersonation crimes. In October, after two Coldplay shows at Milan’s San Siro Stadium sold out in no time, authorities and Italian authors’ rights society SIAE suspected Live Nation Italy and Eventim’s Ticketone, the only authorized ticket seller, of putting large amounts of tickets onto the secondary market.
An investigation was launched. Italy’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Dario Franceschini, said legislation to curb the secondary ticketing practice was necessary. He told corrierecomunicazioni.it that the government is looking to amend its so-called Budget Law and fine “those who grant the right of access to tickets to any person other than those authorized … between 30,000 and 180,000 euro for each violation of this law.”
In addition, the violating sites would either have their contents removed or be shut down entirely. Italian promoters association Assomusica welcomed the proposal.
“I'm really satisfied to see this unity of views between the Minister and Assomusica,” Vincenzo Spera, the president of the association, said.
Pollstar also reached out to Vincenzo Spera and Roberto de Luca for comment.