In a new wrinkle to the ongoing lawsuit between Songkick and Live Nation/Ticketmaster, Ampthemag.com is reporting that an investment banker representing Songkick approached a Live Nation executive over the summer to inquire whether or not the Ticketmaster parent company would have any interest in purchasing the struggling business.
Songkick eventually sold its discovery app to WMG for $5 million, splitting off the ticketing business which has continued its litigation against LN/Ticketmaster. That lawsuit began with an accusation against the ticketing giant for anti-competitive practices in 2015, later amended with allegations that former Crowdsurge employees working at Ticketmaster were accessing trade secrets to be used against the company (which was purchased by Songkick by that point).
According to Amplify, a June 11 email exchange between Raine Group partner John Salter and Live Nation Chief Strategy Officer Jordan Zachary served as a pitch for setting up a meeting with Songkick CEO Matt Jones.
“Hey Jordan,” the letter from Salter reads, “I wanted to follow up on our conversation and let you know Matt and the team will be on the West Coast this week for meetings,” adding “if there is interest and we are in a range that makes sense for both parties, Matt and team are happy to come by the offices. Let me know if you want to connect tomorrow or Monday.”
An hour later, Zachary wrote back and told Salter he was passing on the meeting, writing “we discussed and no interest on our side.”
What this means is fairly up for interpretation. As Amplify points out, Songkick pitched itself as a potential asset to a number of companies prior to its deal with WMG. It is entirely possible that the Live Nation pitch was simply an effort to show that the company made a good faith effort to sell for legal reasons.
Ten days after the outreach to Live Nation, Songkick COO Adam Schiffer sent an email to members of his staff, warning “by the end of next week, we’re expected to run out of cash.” He then goes on to detail what he has been offered so far — $2-$3 million from Vivendi, $2 million from Seatgeek, an earn out deal with no cash upfront from Deezer and a verbal offer in the “low seven digits” from Amazon.
“The last viable option is WMG,” Schiffer explained, noting Songkick had been offered $5 million for the company’s discovery platform, while investors would continue to control the ticketing service, which would be mothballed weeks later.
“While this bid will still fall short of our goal of $15-$20 million,” he wrote, “it is likely to be our best option.”
As the lawsuit continues to work its way through the system in California, a number of interesting tidbits have come out through the evidentiary process, this just being the latest example (and certainly unlikely to be the last.) There was the surfacing of emails that found Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino admitting that some of Ticketmaster’s fees are “not defendable” and that the company needs a “simpler more artist-friendly policy/rule to meet the reality of today.” In October, Stephen Mead and Zeeshan Zaidi, who were at the core of Songkick’s claim that former employees were using insider info to aid their new bosses at Ticketmaster against the company, were found to be no longer working at the ticketing giant. Then, last month, we came across an email chain filed in the lawsuit among top Live Nation execs in 2015 that referred to global superstar Adele and her management as “pigs” and also claimed that there’s no such thing as a fan verification algorithm.
We’ll continue digging into the documents as the case approaches trial, currently set for early 2018.