Phillips Talks Viagogo, Jackson

AEG Live chief Randy Phillips believes he’s resolved his company’s issues with viagogo and intends to issue a press statement clarifying the Michael Jackson situation.

The secondary ticket company had a deal to be the official resale site for Jackson’s extended run at London’s O2 Arena and was allowed to sell 7 percent of the legendary pop act’s tickets at inflated prices.

It’s believed 80 percent of the markup on these tickets would go to Jackson via AEG, with the remaining 20 percent going to the ticket seller.

The hitch came when viagogo appeared to be contravening the deal by trying to sell the tickets to other secondary sites and selling others over the phone.

Phillips said AEG sent viagogo a “cease and desist” letter and went to court March 13 to get an injunction to prevent the company from providing tickets for other resale sites.

“We weren’t trying to kill them in court or rescind the deal because it’s too far down the road for that,” Phillips told Pollstar. “We just wanted to make sure they comply with the terms.” He said one of the upsides of the viagogo deal was that it meant AEG had to monitor only one site.

Subsequent meetings between AEG and viagogo chief Eric Baker have resolved the issue and the complaint against the ticketing firm will be withdrawn.

The deal originated when AEG received “a number of approaches” from secondary ticket companies including viagogo and Seatwave.

Viagogo was chosen after meetings with AEG Enterprises managing director Jessica Koravos and AEG Live U.K. chief Rob Hallett.

The company won the deal because it has a secure site and it agreed not to sell tickets to other brokers.

Why it sold to other brokers is unclear and Baker hasn’t commented on the situation since the media fuss started March 12.

There’s been speculation that either viagogo wasn’t convinced Jacko would do all the shows or that it drastically underestimated the demand.

Phillips defended the viagogo deal, saying making a premium on such a small number of tickets allowed more tickets to be sold for £75.

“If it’s £100 for Tina Turner and £160 for Madonna, what should it be for the comeback shows of the biggest pop and rock star the world’s ever seen?” Phillips said. He said he thinks he could have sold 200 Jackson shows at the O2.

He also dismissed a report in The Times that said AEG tried to hush up the viagogo deal.

“That’s just ridiculous,” he said, pointing out the ticket company’s logo is on Jackson’s site along with clear links to the viagogo site.

Phillips dismissed any question of Jackson not being able to perform 50 shows, telling U.K. papers the King Of Pop is in “great shape.”

He also clarified stories saying AEG would “self-insure” the shows and take financial responsibility for any mishaps.

“We’re still talking to potential insurers but we’re prepared to take some liability if none of them want to take it all,” he said.

To get to 50 O2 shows, AEG has had to extend the run to January and February 2010 as the venue is too busy to be able to offer many autumn dates.