Ticketmaster is sort of the supervillain of the online music ticketing world. You don’t automatically believe everything people accuse them of doing, but you’re also not super-quick to rule anything out. Like, say, hiring an executive from a rival ticketing firm, only to use his access to the company’s record systems to hack their databases and undercut their deals.
That’s exactly what the Live Nation subsidiary is being accused of today, in an amended complaint from merged ticketing companies CrowdSurge and Songkick. Songkick—which operates on a model allowing artists to sell tickets directly to consumers—sued Ticketmaster over monopolistic business practices back in 2015. During discovery on that trial, the company learned that CrowdSurge’s former general manager, Stephen Mead, had kept more than 85,000 files related to the company on his laptop after he left, eventually using them when he was hired by a Ticketmaster subsidiary to access the company’s records. That, in turn, gave Ticketmaster a list of potential CrowdSurge clients, who it could then pressure into sticking with its business model instead.
Mead signed an agreement not to reveal CrowdSurge’s confidential information when he separated from the company in 2012, but emails allegedly show numerous instances where he used his knowledge of the company’s systems to access information. “I must stress that as this is access to a live CS tool I would be careful in what you click on as it would be best not the giveaway that we are snooping around,” he supposedly wrote in one; “Feel free to screen-grab the hell out of [CrowdSurge’s] system,” in another. Some of the company’s database information even ended up in Ticketmaster presentations for company executives.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation don’t seem to be denying that any of this potential corporate espionage happened, instead questioning whether any of Songkick or CrowdSurge’s information was truly “confidential” in the first place. “Songkick’s amended complaint is based on the alleged misappropriation of information that Songkick did not even try to keep secret, in some cases could not have kept secret, and in some cases shared with artist managers that work for Live Nation,” the company responded. “The claims have no legal merit and Live Nation and Ticketmaster will continue to vigorously defend this case.”