Ticketmaster Loses Motion for Summary Judgement in Songkick Case
Despite statements from Rob Light, Irving Azoff and Guy Oseary, the fan club ticketing dispute appears to headed to trial.
Ticketmaster has lost a motion for summary judgment in its lawsuit with Songkick, following a flurry of statements from big-time managers and music executives, speaking both for and against the ticketing giant.
Ticketmaster’s lawyers had hoped to have a number of charges in its case thrown out, but U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fisher ruled that Ticketmaster didn't demonstrate that Songkick had "failed to meet its burden to show an anticompetitive effect," arguing that there was some evidence that Ticketmaster had used its market power to shut Songkick out of the fan club ticketing space.
Immediately after Monday’s ruling, Songkick’s COO Adam Schiffer released a statement saying "We are gratified that the judge has dismissed Live Nation’s request for summary judgment today, allowing all 11 of the claims we made against the company in our amended complaint in February to be addressed at the trial."
Those claims include contractual interference, trade secret theft and even computer hacking. Earlier this month two Ticketmaster employees implicated in the Songkick hacking scandal quietly left Ticketmaster.
The ruling came amid a flurry of court declarations both for and against Ticketmaster. Crosby, Stills & Nash manager Corrina Clover Miller filed a declaration with the court accusing Ticketmaster of "pressure and actual obstruction” when she tried to use Songkick for the band’s presales, saying Ticketmaster officials told her the band was out of sync with the company’s fan club guidelines.
"I was very upset that Ticketmaster was making presales with Songkick so onerous as to force us to run presales on Ticketmaster,” she wrote, later adding "It was particularly disturbing to see that Ticketmaster was treating artists performing at larger venues differently, and it felt as though my clients were “being made an example of” for no reason other than the fact that they were not utilizing Ticketmaster for artist presales, and were an easy target because of their smaller gross to Ticketmaster."
In total 22 declarations were filed on behalf of Songkick from both ex-employees and promoters like Jam Productions' Jerry Mickelson (who has a ticketing deal with Ticketfly), George Summers with Outback Concerts and managers Traci Thomas (Jason Isbell), Michael Corcoran (Alison Krauss), Nick Blasko (Tegan and Sara) and former Phish manager John Paluska. Ticketmaster filed 20 declarations from its supporters including statements from CAA’s Head of Music Rob Light, Azoff MSG Entertainment Chairman and CEO Irving Azoff and Maverick’s Guy Oseary.
Light disputed claims that CAA had black-listed the presale ticketing company, writing "Songkick absolutely is not banned, blacklisted or otherwise prevented from working with CAA's artists” and noted "I am in regular communication with Michael Rapino, Live Nation's Chief Executive Officer, and he has never threatened me about anything (let alone anything to do with Songkick).” Oseary made a similar statement, saying Songkick’s claim that artists like Madonna and U2 have been pressured not to use Songkick are false, noting "I have never had any conversations about using (or not using) Songkick with anyone.”
And Azoff told the court “there is absolutely no basis for Songkick’s claims” that Ticketmaster has interfered with Azoff’s artists.
"Live Nation and Ticketmaster have never pressured or threatened me not to use Songkick," Azoff said. "As a general rule, I am not in favor of third party platform presales for the artists that I manage -- not with Songkick or any other provider for that matter," noting "I believe that multiple presales on different platforms are confusing to the consumer and significantly less efficient and effective than running all ticket sales on the primary ticketing service provider's platform."
Ultimately, Ticketmaster was denied its motion for summary judgement in the case because the judge Fischer found that "given Ticketmaster’s overwhelming market share, if it has power to exclude (Songkick) from servicing artist presales at venues where it has the general venue ticket servicing contract," and effectively block Songkick from "acquiring any business from artists for presale ticketing servicing needs.”
The case is scheduled to go to trial next month. Earlier this month, Songkick founder Matt Jones announced that Songkick was shutting down its ticketing business, following the sale of its music-discovery app to Warner Music Group as part of an intra-company transfer.
In a letter to customers, Jones laid much of the blame for the demise of the company’s ticketing business on its rivals, saying Songkick was forced to "bow to pressure from Live Nation and Ticketmaster and complete the shutdown of all ticketing operations" after Ticketmaster "effectively blocked our US ticketing business."