Zaidi Explains TM Fan Club Rules

As Songkick and Ticketmaster duke it out in court over artist presales and alleged antitrust allegations, we haven’t heard a lot from the man at the center of the controversy.

Zeeshan Zaidi is Ticketmaster’s senior VP and GM of artist services and is responsible for launching the company’s OnTour product, which TM is hoping will compete against a myriad of fan-club ticketing companies that have sprung up in recent years. He’s also responsible for implementing TM’s fan club rules and, with the help of senior director Mike Schmitt, has had the unenviable job of pushing back on big-time artists allegedly skirting those rules.

While Zaidi hasn’t spoken publicly about the case, lawyers filed a declaration from the Harvard-grad, musician and entrepreneur.

He goes to great length to explain how the fan club policy works, but boils it down to these three requirements: “A fan club must exist before” a tour is announced, “must provide benefits to its members well beyond ticketing access” and requires prospective members “to demonstrate that they are true members of an artist’s most devoted community” and are not scalpers or brokers.

If a band doesn’t meet these requirements, the presale can still go forward, but “Ticketmaster will not ‘comp’ the rights to sell those tickets.”

The company has spent millions procuring exclusive ticketing contracts, he argued, and must be compensated for tickets sold off-platform.

Songkick, he said, “is a serial violator of Ticketmaster’s fan club policy” and “largely got away with trafficking in ticketing rights that belong to Ticketmaster” because it “exploited the fact that it is difficult and costly for Ticketmaster to monitor the fan club policy” against all the artists on tour at any one time.

He said Songkick’s claims that acts like the Alabama Shakes and “Weird” Al Yankovic were being punished because of the lawsuit were “categorically false.”

Zaidi also said that a number of artists with approved fan clubs plan to use Songkick this summer and that the company is slated to make $900,000 off tours for Brantley Gilbert and Kenny Chesney.

“Songkick’s entire business model turns on the rather remarkable position that it is entitled to ticketing inventory for free. Because Songkick opts not to pay for inventory, it contributes nothing to venues,” he said. “There’s nothing procompetitive about pricing that’s built on, at best, a combination of freeriding and blatant theft.”