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Ed Sheeran’s promoter declares AMA award winning anti-tout strategy a success

By | Published on Thursday 15 November 2018

Kilimanjaro Live

Kilimanjaro Live chief Stuart Galbraith thanked both Ticketmaster and StubHub at the Artist & Manager Awards last night – but delivered a big “no thank-you” to Viagogo – while picking up an award for both his company and fellow tour promoter DHP Family for their combined efforts in tackling the touts on Ed Sheeran’s last tour.

He also revealed that, as a result of all that work, most touts have chosen not to acquire tickets for Sheeran’s next round of shows.

Kilimanjaro Live and DHP Family were the winners of a new prize at the annual awards from the Music Managers Forum and Featured Artists Coalition which was linked to the anti-touting FanFair campaign that MMF helped launch two years ago. On the back of that campaign new regulations governing the resale of tickets for profit have been introduced in the UK and, even more importantly, existing regulations have started to be enforced.

Artist manager Brian Message, one of the people who instigated FanFair, presented the award to Kilimanjaro and DHP, noting that they had utilised the regulatory achievements of the campaign to implement a prolific anti-touting strategy on Ed Sheeran’s most recent UK tour. This involved cancelling thousands of touted tickets and offering the fans who bought them replacements at face value. Although the new regulations helped with all that, Message acknowledged that anti-touting strategies of this kind are a lot of work to implement.

Galbraith said that he was really grateful to accept the award on behalf of the Kili and DHP teams “in recognition of what we achieved on the Ed Sheehan tour last year and what we will achieve next year”. Confirming that a “huge amount of effort” and been involved, he also noted that the support of Sheeran, his manager Stuart Camp and agent Jon Ollier was also key to their success.

Of Sheeran, Camp and Ollier, he went on: “They are vehemently against ticket touting, they are vehemently against their fans being ripped off, and without their support none of what we have achieved would have been possible”.

Running through the figures, he added: “Last year on the Ed Sheeran tour we saved the customers in the region of £800,000 and we hurt Viagogo to the extent of nearly £2 million. As a result of that, instead of having to cancel 15,000 tickets as we did on the last tour, on the next tour, next week we will cancel less than 100. We’ve got the message across: the fans understand, and the touts have decided that they don’t want to mess with us”.

Among those being thanked were the team behind FanFair and the artist managers who helped fund it, Claire Turnham of the grass roots Victim Of Viagogo campaign, and the two MPs who have been most vocal with their support in Parliament, Nigel Adams and Sharon Hodgson. Galbraith also thanked Reg Walker of Iridium Security who, he said, “single-handled manually went through one million [Sheeran] ticket sales and identified for us the seven touts who had bought 15,000 tickets, and enabled us to cancel those tickets”.

And finally came the thanks and the no thanks to the companies that provide – or have provided – the websites where the online touts do their re-selling. Live Nation’s Ticketmaster, of course, announced in August that it was closing down its resale sites in Europe. Meanwhile the unrepentant Viagogo announced it was suing Galbraith’s company over its anti-touting strategy on the Sheeran shows.

“Thank you to Ticketmaster”, the Kili boss said, “for bowing to our relentless pressure, our requests, and our incessant nagging you, thank you for closing your two tout sites, we appreciate it greatly. Thanks also, bizarrely, to StubHub, who are more transparent than the one last bad actor that we have in the industry which is Viagogo”.

“No thanks to Viagogo”, he concluded. “Thank you for threatening to sue us. Thank you for not following it through. Thank you for not suing us in Germany. Thank you for not suing us in Austria”. The resale firm threatened legal action in Germany because that’s the home turf of Kili’s parent company DEAG, which got the final thanks in Galbraith’s speech for standing by its UK subsidiary and its decision to “stand up for what we believe is right”.

Not all the awards presented at the AMAs were quite so timely or political, with a long line of artists and managers also being presented with gongs for their recent output and projects or, in some cases, their career-long contributions. Here is a full list of winners…

Artist Of The Year: Dua Lipa
Breakthrough Artist Of The Year: Mabel
Pioneer Award: Kano
Artists’ Artist Award: Guy Garvey

Manager Of The Year: Closer Artists
Writer/Producer Manager: Carol Crabtree, Solar Management
Breakthrough Manager Of The Year: Jazz Sherman, Hunger Management
Entrepreneur Award: Jamie Oborne, All On Red
Peter Grant Award For Lifetime Achievement: Modest! Management

Fanfair Alliance Outstanding Contribution To Live Music: Kilimanjaro Live & DHP Family
Unsung Hero Award: Natalie Wade, Small Green Shoots