Visionary Agent Joins Visionary Committee

Last year MidemNet, the standalone event that takes place during the annual MIDEM trade fair in France, introduced its Visionary Chair Committee, a group of music and technology players who will advise and chair MidemNet.

Next year’s Visionary Chair Committee is starting to shape up and we couldn’t help but notice that, along with the label vets, artist managers and techies, the committee will also have a booking agent to help shake things up.

He’s Bruce Houghton, president of Skyline Music. But Houghton has another occupation when he’s not overseeing the touring careers of such artists as Al Stewart, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Taylor Dayne and Tom Rush. And it’s his “other career” that makes his addition to the committee even more interesting.

Houghton blogs daily about digital music issues on Hypebot. And, like most bloggers, Houghton isn’t shy when it comes to expressing his opinions.

But then, MidemNet’s 2009 Visionary Chair Committee is made up of people known for, shall we say, speaking their minds.

Next year’s committee chairman is Ted Cohen, managing partner of TAG Strategic. Anyone who has ever seen Cohen in action at a conference knows he’s a one-man dynamo.

Then there’s Harvey Goldsmith of Harvey Goldsmith Productions, who is also managing director of Artiste Management Productions. Goldsmith was the man behind last year’s Led Zeppelin reunion, thus proving that he can move mountains.

Nettwerk Music Group CEO Terry McBride is also on the committee, and when you think of it, it probably wouldn’t be a “visionary” committee without his participation. As manager of bands and artists such as Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne and Sarah McLachlan, McBride has been making headlines himself as a music industry heavy who has blasted the recording industry for its P2P lawsuit strategy.

Other members of MidemNet’s Visionary Chair Committee are Wired magazine Editor- in-Chief Chris Anderson, Rock Music Group founder and President Sam Duann, and Ralph Simon, CEO of The Mobilium Advisory Group and chairman emeritus and founder of Mobile Entertainment Forum.

All in all it’s a very interesting combination of talent, knowledge and chutzpah. Houghton is more than a little excited to be included.

“It’s an honor to join the Visionary Chair Committee of the MidemNet conference and to serve alongside industry leaders like Harvey Goldsmith, Terry McBride and Chris Anderson of Wired magazine. My hope is that my work at Skyline Music and editing has given me a unique perspective that will add to the conversation,” Houghton told Pollstar.
“Live music 2.0 offers unprecedented opportunities for fan engagement, targeted marketing and additional revenue if we embrace the digital revolution instead of looking at it as competition.”


Haggling For Tix On Zigabid

You can add another angle to the secondary ticketing biz – the art of the deal.

Zigabid is a new secondary ticketing company, but unlike high-profile secondary ticket sites like StubHub, this Web site actually challenges buyers to name their own price. More specifically, buyers negotiate with sellers until both parties agree to a price.

“I was always intrigued by the fact that trading in commodities, anything from real estate to stocks, even buying a car, there was always a process of negotiation, putting in the price you want to pay, or trying to get the price you want to sell it for,” Zigabid founding partner Dan Rubendall told Pollstar. “In this market, I found it kind of odd that there was a so-called primary and secondary market where the primary market would come out a fixed price, and then the secondary market would also trade at a fixed price.”

Just as file-sharing forced the labels to speed up their digital delivery plans, the popularity of secondary ticketing has led to primary ticket sellers exploring reselling. Most notable is Ticketmaster’s TicketExchange, where each ticket is guaranteed to be legitimate. However, to be fair, sites like StubHub and viagogo, which enable ticket holders to list and sell their tickets, also guarantee their services. Plus, StubHub is the official reseller for Major League Baseball, a distinction that confers some legitimacy on the service.

And now comes Zigabid, which enables buyers and sellers to negotiate secondary ticket prices. However, head honcho Rubendall isn’t some Johnny-come-lately to offer unique ways of the ticketing industry. He’s operated the Ticket Palace ticket agency in Southern California for the past 25 years, and has had plenty of time to think about the ticket market.

“In seeing that, about two-and-a-half years ago I said we need to develop something that better reflects what consumers and sellers really want, which is a negotiation process to come to the point of selling their seat or buying their ticket, rather than ‘guestimate’ or guess what the seller or buyer is going to sell or purchase the ticket at.”

At first glance, Zigabid looks like a person-to-person secondary ticket site. However, the events listed also display the lowest, the highest and average ticket price.

Clicking on an event brings up a second screen that really shows Zigabid’s potential. Along with bringing up the individual listings for the event, such as a list of Madonna shows or a schedule of USC Trojans football games, the screen also displays the “TicketWatch” window, a graph illustrating ticket prices over the last few days. It’s kind of like watching a company’s stock performance, but instead of shares bought and sold, it’s information on ticket transactions.

“One of the biggest, I think, misconceptions about the ticket industry, whenever the press gets a hold of some data they’ll say, ‘Tickets are going on StubHub for $5,000 apiece for the Lakers / Boston series,’” Rubendall said. “The problem with that scenario is that it is the listed price. It’s not the actual sales price. You don’t hear Wall Street say the listed price of homes is at this price. They give you the data for what they actually sold for. And that’s what this graph is for. It’s an actual graph of data consumed on the site that gives you what seats actually sell for.”

But even though a public beta testing can often reveal strengths and weaknesses, in the case of Zigabid, it doesn’t quite reveal just how big a job it would be if the majority of tickets in the primary or secondary market suddenly opened up for negotiations.

After all, when you consider the ticket listings on Ticketmaster or StubHub, and then picture people haggling over every seat, that’s a lot of back and forth negotiating that’s sure to eat up time as well as processing power.

“A lot of people with a lot of tickets have said, ‘We love the idea. We’ve been looking for this forever. But how do we deal with 100 people coming in with negotiations, and having to respond back and forth?’” Rubendall said.“But you only have to respond to one person, which you perceive has given the best offer. It’s a much better process in any commodities industry to react to what somebody is willing to pay, rather than trying to react by guessing at what somebody is willing to pay.”