Tension at ILMC ‘Bloodbath’

The ILMC’s ticketing panel looked as if it would discuss the same old things about the same old problems, but this time such vociferous and threatening language was used that it sounded like it was headed for a London bloodbath.

The toys went out of the pram backstage and before the session began. One panelist apparently wished another a particularly violent death, while a third one looked as if he was about to carry out the first one’s wishes.

Viagogo chief Eric Baker is the man who might consider himself lucky to be alive, or at least lucky to be in one piece.

In the green room, where the panelists gathered before the March 8 session, Dave Chumbley from Primary Talent reportedly said he’d happily see him knocked down by a car and Music Managers’ Forum chairman Jazz Summers hinted that he wouldn’t want to be held responsible for his actions if he and Baker were ever in the same room again.

There was a rumour, one of many that spread around the conference immediately after the panel, that Summers (who has Big Life management company) actually reached for a bottle while he was delivering a particularly violent threat to Baker.

Baker wouldn’t comment beyond telling Pollstar that what was said to him pre-panel was 10 times worse than anything the delegates heard during the session.

"Everybody decides how they want to conduct themselves," he added.

Summers may even have sparked the rumour by telling delegates that "the green room nearly became the red room" and comparing himself to "a big rottweiler with a bone."

Stuart Galbraith was in the chair and opened by saying he’d "try not to have too boring a session." But by the end, the head of the newly formed Kilimanjaro, a joint venture with AEG, looked as if he’d spent the best part of two hours sitting on top of a volcano.

He discovered how hard it is to get six screaming people to shut up without just becoming the seventh. At times it seemed half the room was trying to yell "fuck" louder than anyone else.

He did a remarkable job under the circumstances and managed to restore order on more than a few occasions, although at time he was helped only by people pausing to clear their throats or catch their breath.

Toward the end, a woman, claiming to be a professor of psychology and saying she had no involvement or vested interest in the music business, stood up and said she’d heard the gathering "pontificate for an hour-and-a-half" and decided "you people need to get a hold of yourselves."

"You in the black shirt who said someone should be knocked over by a car, go home, look in the mirror and get a fucking clue," she told Chumbley.

One rumour surfaced that the "professor" was actually Baker’s wife but he’s since told Pollstar he’s not married. He wouldn’t elaborate on whether he’s in any way acquainted with the lady.

The inherent danger in letting a psychologist into any ILMC panel, let alone one where the only connection with this year’s hippie theme must have come via Charles Manson, is that it could lead to at least half of the delegates being sectioned.

So many people called Baker the devil that he started using the term to describe himself. Summers, who called Baker the devil more times than anyone, took this as a sure sign that he’d been right all along.

The debate itself, or what could be heard of it over the general racket, wasn’t like previous years because this time there was no line in the sand between the pro- and anti-secondary marketers.

There were vastly disparate views coming from all corners of the room regarding how the industry is to deal with the secondary market, and – short of instant global legislation – the industry will have to deal with it for itself.

Summers hates touts with a vengeance and so does Chumbley, who’s set up Artists Tickets to sell at a price that’s as close to face value as his running costs will allow.

Leon Ramakers of Mojo Concerts in Holland, on the other hand, said he became so tired of suing secondary sellers and losing (three times) that his company made a deal with Viagogo to provide fans with a way to buy and resell tickets securely and with transactions guaranteed.

"Don Quixote fought windmills," he explained, a fair analogy except for those who thought "Don Quixote" was just swearing in Dutch.

Harvey Goldsmith, probably the best-known British-based promoter, said the business doesn’t need Ticketmaster and CTS Eventim, let alone the secondary ticket sellers.

Some managers believed in excluding the secondary market while others – including Resale Rights Society Chairman-elect Marc Marot – want to cooperate with it to see that the artists and all who are entitled get a cut. And still others wanted to know about the kick-backs promoters are allegedly getting from the major primary ticket-sellers.

Chumbley wanted to establish how much it actually costs to sell a ticket compared to how much companies like Eventim and Ticketmaster charge.

Andreas Egger from Österreich Ticket, part of Eventim, flatly refused to tell him. Vito Iaia from Ticketmaster began explaining the different factors involved, but was interrupted and allowed to duck the question when it was obvious that he wasn’t going to come up with anything remotely resembling a straight answer.

When someone asked Chumbley how much he charges, he said he didn’t know, "but only because we’ve only been in business for a couple of months."

"Don’t talk to me or anyone else about collective thinking," said Carl Leighton-Pope, as the discussion reached another screaming peak and seemed to be taking on 10 topics at once.

He said he doesn’t buy the idea of any industry-collective thinking because "everyone on a chair in this room" had their own ideas and vested interests in how the ticketing problem should be tackled.

What had gone before meant he was doing no more than stating what had become obvious: a couple of hundred people with a couple of hundred different standpoints. But it had gotten to the point where someone needed to stand up and say it.