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Madonna inks ticket deals with StubHub, viagogo

By Alfred Branch Jr.

In what could be considered a boon for both companies, and further indication of the validity and growing influence of the secondary ticket market, StubHub and viagogo will be the official secondary ticketing companies for Madonna's upcoming Sticky & Sweet world tour.

The tour, which is in support of Madonna's new hit album "Hard Candy," will likely be one of the top concert draws of the year, and in fact the tour is already the 10th most popular overall ticket event, according to TicketNews's exclusive weekly ranking. StubHub is the official "fan-to-fan" ticket exchange, while UK-based viagogo is the official premium seat and secondary ticketer for the British and European markets, except in Germany and Italy. The tour is the first one under the singer's landmark 10-year, $120 million deal with Live Nation.

StubHub spokesperson Sean Pate told TicketNews that the deal is the largest music deal the company has ever done. Madonna and StubHub worked together a few years to promote a charity event, and the company has done that with other artists. Last year, StubHub was sued by Ticketmaster when the Rowdy Frynds tour used StubHub to sell premium tickets, but under the Madonna deal, she is not selling tickets through StubHub, according to Pate. StubHub is a tour sponsor and has received her endorsement.

"We're obviously pretty excited by the arrangement," Pate said. "It's a big stamp of approval from a major artist that will hopefully lead to more partnership with the music industry and less resistance. Madonna has always been a trend-setting artist and business person so it's no surprise that her team would be willing to get this deal done."

The move to StubHub and viagogo would appear to trump Ticketmaster and its new secondary ticket division TicketsNow, which are in a pitched battle with StubHub, viagogo and other secondary ticket brokers for market dominance. Ticketmaster is a primary ticket seller for the tour, and brokers can still resell Madonna tickets through TicketsNow, but the companies are not the ones authorized by the artist for secondary sales.

Eric Baker, founder and CEO of viagogo, told TicketNews that the unprecedented deal marks a triumph for the company. "Madonna and Live Nation are remaking the music scene, and we're thrilled to be working with them." Last year, viagogo and Live Nation signed a deal in the Netherlands for viagogo to be the company's official secondary ticket seller in that country.

"This is the first time a major artist is publicly endorsing a company as a premium and secondary ticket seller for a worldwide tour. And when Madonna is first with something, as she so often has been over the course of her career, she is never the last. This could have big repercussions for the industry," Baker said.

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