CTS Eventim: A Timeline of Success (Magna Charta Special Issue)

Ed Sheeran
Torsten Karpf
– Ed Sheeran
playing to his biggest crowd so far: 100,000 people at Germany’s Hockenheimring. Promoter FKP Scorpio is part of the CTS Eventim family.
Our competitors are U.S. companies,” said Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, CEO of CTS Eventim, in an interview with German business magazine Capital in 2018. He was criticizing a decision by Germany’s competition watchdog regarding a merger of his company with one of the country’s leading concert promoters, Four Artists. He was explaining how the German authorities were misguided in only considering the German market in their decision, seeing that the touring business was international, and U.S. companies also operating in the country were able to achieve completely different economies of scale. A company that was operating across all of Europe, like CTS Eventim, but was considered on a national level, was clearly at a disadvantage, he said.
At the time of the interview, CTS Eventim had developed into a truly pan-European entity if there ever was one. Schulenberg had laid the foundations for this back in 2000, when he took the company, which had only been dealing in ticketing until then, public, and began acquiring stakes in various German promoters including Peter Rieger Konzertagentur, Semmel Concerts, Argo Konzerte, FKP Scorpio, and Dirk Becker Entertainment. Milestones in the years that followed include the ticketing contract for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, when Eventim’s ticketing technology sold 3.2 million tickets without major issues. By 2009, the company had established itself as “Europe’s leading concert promoter and the world’s third largest,” by its own admission.
In 2010, a few important things happened: CTS Eventim became ticketing market leader in Switzerland by purchasing ticketcorner.ch. It also took over the activities of Ticket Online in Germany and entered into an exclusive ticketing contract with musical powerhouse Stage Entertainment. It also made two major moves in the venues game by taking over the operation of LANXESS arena in Cologne, Germany, and, together with Anschutz Entertainment Group, purchasing the legendary Hammersmith Apollo in London, which has been operating as Eventim Apollo since 2013. 2010 also marked the year in which the company generated revenues north of €500 million for the first time in history.
Over the coming years, CTS Eventim won the contract for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, as well as the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The 2014 purchase of abc productions in Switzerland gave the company the market leadership as a promoter in addition to its leading position as the country’s largest ticketing company. It also acquired Stage Entertainment’s ticketing companies in Spain, the Netherlands, and France in 2014. The attempted merger of Ticketcorner with Starticket in Switzerland in 2016 got denied by the anti-trust authorities. That same year, CTS Eventim and Dutch electronic dance music producer and promoter Alda entered into a joint venture. It also entered into a joint venture with Venuepoint, the leading ticketing provider in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, before purchasing the company two years later.
In 2016, CTS Eventim reacquired a majority stake in FKP Scorpio. After first purchasing 50.2% in 2000, Eventim sold some of those shares ten years later, bringing its stake in FKP back down to 45 percent. Since 2016, CTS Eventim can once again add the business of one of Europe’s most successful promoters to its balance sheet. FKP owns flagship festivals including Hurricane, Southside, Highfield, Chiemsee Summer, M’era Luna and Deichbrand. The company, founded by Folkert Koopmans, also promoted a total of 28 concerts from Ed Sheeran’s all-record-breaking “Divide” tour in seven European countries, including the largest concerts ever played to date by Ed Sheeran in his impressive career: Jun 22-23, 2019 at the Hockenheimring, each with 100,000 fans. 
By the end of 2017, Eventim exceed revenues of €1 billion for the first time in its history. Both 2017 and 2018 were marked by an acquisition spree, mainly through Italy (Vertigo, Friends and Partners, D’Alessandro e Galli, and Vivo Concerti), but also in Spain, where CTS Eventim acquired a 63.5% stake in major Spanish promoter Doctor Music.
CTS Eventim got asked to provide its technological expertise in 2018 when the German government announced plans to introduce a passenger vehicle toll. Together with Austrian traffic specialists Kapsch TrafficCom it was awarded a contract worth almost €2 billion. The government has since pulled out of the contract, for which CTS Eventim expects to be paid handsomely in damages. 
CTS Eventim’s technology is renowned in the industry. Schulenberg said the foundations for his company’s success were laid in 1997, when he commissioned development of software that was able to serve the whole world with tickets, out of one single database, in multiple languages and currencies (See: Klaus-Peter Schulenberg On His Business Philosophy, Building A Billion-Dollar Company & The Spencer Davis Group). What is more, the system is stable, the many huge sports tournaments CTS Eventim has served with tickets to this date stand testament to that. In terms of touring, the company celebrated a sales record in 2018, when handling Rammstein’s 2019 stadium tour: 800,000 tickets for a single tour sold shortly after the start of the onsale. The demand for tickets exceeded the available quota many times over. In the first hour, more than one million users permanently accessed CTS Eventim’s portals, triggering peak rates of 80,000 system requests per second. Schulenberg told Pollstar that he first learned about the internet at so-called “interactive media” conventions in the U.S. in the early ’90s – at a time when hardly anybody in Europe knew about the web. “In hindsight, this laid the foundation for entering the ticketing industry,” he said. 
The appreciation for CTS Eventim’s system seems unbroken: In 2019, it successfully finalized a deal with Fnac Darty, owner of the French market leader in ticketing France Billet, which saw CTS Eventim take over 48 percent of its shares, with an option to acquire a majority stake in France Billet four years from closing the transaction. Also acquired in 2019: Russian promoter TCI, as well as Austria’s Barracuda Music, which was formed in 2016 as a merger of Skalar, Red Snapper and NuCoast Entertainment. The transaction added two of Austria’s biggest festivals, Nova Rock and FM4 Frequency, to CTS Eventim’s portfolio of events. All of these companies are united under the banner of Eventim Live, which was formed in 2019, as well. The network currently comprises 35 promoters in 15 countries, which together promote some 50 festivals and thousands of live events with millions of visitors. One of them is the Gadget abc Entertainment Group AG, a conglomerate of Switzerland’s most important promoters, in which Eventim bought a 60% stake last year.  

– Rammstein
sold 800,000 tickets for their 2019 stadium tour in no time. CTS Eventim handled the onsale.
In February 2020 a synergy of titans was announced: U.S. entertainment industry legend and former Live Nation chairman Michael Cohl and Eventim entered into a partnership focused on global touring. It’s a 50/50 partnership, in which Eventim is fully consolidating revenues and earnings into its financial statements. While Michael Cohl will add his concert business acumen and comprehensive network, CTS Eventim will provide full access to the Eventim Live network, ticketing platform and its full portfolio of products and services around live events. In March 2020, Eventim’s 2019 fiscal numbers got published, showing $1.6 billion in group revenues (live entertainment and ticketing), which marked a 16.2% year-on-year rise.
And then came COVID. When governments around the world reacted by banning people from gathering, Eventim had accumulated sufficient funds to sustain itself for two years without incurring debts. It had to revoke its financial forecast for 2020, of course, and the event restrictions unsurprisingly caused CTS Eventim’s earnings and revenues to plummet in the first quarter. Once Germany went into lockdown, CTS Eventim began implementing measures to reduce costs and boost efficiency. Investments were reduced to a minimum, the annual shareholders’ meeting held in June resolved not to distribute a dividend for 2019, an existing credit line was drawn down. Still, after six months, group revenues had fallen by 71.5% to €198.5 million ($236.4 million) year-on-year.
Despite the crisis dragging on for almost exactly a year now, Eventim hasn’t let go of one staff member in relation to COVID. It has made use of the downtime to focus on what it does best: develop technology to allow the world of live to do business effectively. Its ticketing system now accommodates distancing mandates by allocating seats automatically so people from different bubbles don’t sit too close to each other. The company even designed a new system to allow some 90% of staff to work from home, but at the high standard required by Eventim. It also developed Eventim Checkin, where visitors can enter their details prior to an event or at the gate for track and trace purposes. Its software also facilitated the allocation of vaccination appointments in Germany. “We’re doing all we can to leave this pandemic behind us as fast as possible,” Schulenberg told Pollstar.
In 2021, CTS Eventim’s stride is unbroken. Two months in, the company entered into a joint venture with the Zappa Group, which makes CTS Eventim Israel’s ticketing market leader. Second, by acquiring a majority interest in DreamHaus GmbH, a new concert agency founded in the German capital of Berlin last year. Matt Schwarz, who joined CTS Eventim from Live Nation GSA last year, will take on the role of CEO and Managing Partner of DreamHaus and will organize two of Germany’s most iconic festivals, “Rock am Ring” and “Rock im Park,” from 2022 alongside eventimpresents. Hardly anyone working in this industry expects festivals of that scale to return this summer. Schulenberg reckons it’ll be Q3 or even Q4 before shows return at reduced capacity, both indoors and outdoors. When they do, Eventim and all its staff will be ready. Let’s hope by that point the many small and medium-sized companies involved in creating the magic of live can say the same. 

‘Being A Promoter Is A Calling’ CTS Eventim CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg On His Business Philosophy, Building A Billion-Dollar Company & The Spencer Davis Group