Madonna’s Secondary Market

Live Nation and Madonna announced not only a tour on May 8th but, almost as an afterthought, their partnerships with StubHub and U.K.-based viagogo as official ticket resellers for her upcoming Sticky And Sweet trek.

It’s believed to be the first time a major artist has conferred such validity on the resale industry by officially enlisting its services.

StubHub will serve as Madge’s "official fan-to-fan ticket marketplace" on her North American tour leg, while viagogo will handle not only resales but primary VIP packages and premium tickets in Europe, excluding Germany and Italy.

What the official endorsement will also mean for StubHub and viagogo is that Madonna’s Web site will link to them and they will be heavily marketed via Live Nation and Maddy’s e-mail distributions and other promotional materials for the tour.

Live Nation and Madonna will also include StubHub and viagogo designations and logos on advertising, billboards and posters.

Terms of the deals were not made public, but viagogo’s Eric Baker told Pollstar his agreement is a "comprehensive" one.

Sources have told Pollstar that it’s likely to resemble viagogo’s agreement with the Manchester United soccer club, in which the company reportedly pays a flat fee instead of a percentage of sales.

The Wall Street Journal reports that StubHub is offering a percentage of revenue on top of a fee.

The other significant difference between the North American and European secondary agreements is that viagogo will offer a combination of fixed prices and auctions for "a fair number" of premium primary tickets and VIP packages in addition to sanctioned ticket resales.

The deals put Live Nation and Madonna at the forefront of industry efforts to get their own pieces of the secondary market pie – in this case, by joining it.

Promoters, artists and agents have long complained about the ascendancy of the secondary ticketing business, from street-corner scalpers to auction sites like StubHub and its corporate parent, eBay – with the loudest complaint being that they profit handsomely from the live industry without investing anything in it.

But the consummation of partnerships between the world’s largest promoter, one of the world’s biggest artists, and two of the globe’s major ticket resellers sends an unmistakable message that the secondary ticketing market is here to stay.

"This is certainly a landmark deal for the company and hopefully a watershed moment for complete acceptance and partnership with more prominent music artists," said Chuck La Vallee, StubHub’s head of business development for music. "Madonna has always been a forward thinking and progressive artist and business woman and this deal continues that trend.

"StubHub is eager to establish more relationships in the industry not only to strengthen our brand but provide fans of a given artist the best service available to find a secondary selection of tickets or easily resell ones they don’t need to other fans."

Viagogo’s Baker, who coincidentally co-founded StubHub before leaving to establish a new company in the U.K., also believes that resistance to his business from the live industry is waning.

"There’s a very passionate but dwindling minority of people who seem not to be embracing the progress and reality of what is going on," Baker told Pollstar. "The British Parliament and government approve of what we do. Millions of fans who use our Web site approve of what we do. And now Madonna has stepped up on her tour to say, ‘this is the future,’ and embraces what we do.

"I think that speaks volumes that we’re no longer talking about the future; we’re talking about the present. These other people are talking about the past."

Madonna’s "Sticky And Sweet" tour kicks off August 23rd in Cardiff, Wales – about a week after the diva’s 50th birthday.