AEG bows Axs ticketing venture

Outbox provides the technology

AEG officially steps into the ticketing fray this week with the initial rollout of Axs.com, a ducat service in which the venue and concert promotion giant is partnered with Outbox Technologies.

So-called “white label,” venue-based, online-driven sales strategy will seek to take a bite out of competitor Ticketmaster’s centralized approach.

The partnership with Outbox “delivers technology that gives us flexibility to sell, market and package in lots of different ways,” said AEG senior VP of digital Todd Sims. “We’re looking at creating digital and mobile platforms that leverage our assets.”

Proprietary online sales will begin at Axs.com with a group of forthcoming shows at two AEG venues, Denver’s Ogden Theater and Bluebird Theater. Dates will go on sale this Saturday. Tickets will be sold under both Axs and venue brands.

“The consumer can transact with a venue brand, look and feel,” Sims said. “There’s a lot of brand loyalty with particular venues.”

Service will be introduced at San Francisco’s Warfield and Regency Ballroom later this year and will expand to other U.S. and international markets and sales at larger venues, and AEG sports franchises, through 2012.

Specifically addressing frequently voiced consumer gripes about Ticketmaster’s service, Axs will show the full ticket price and eschew home-printing fees.

Availabilities will be updated in real time on the Axs website. Consumers will be able to opt for mail, will-call or eticket delivery. Fans can also share ticketing info with friends on Facebook.

AEG will establish Axs-branded mobile ticketing services this year and a video content service due next year.

Earlier this month, AEG appointed Bryan Perez, formerly topper at Live Nation’s digital division, as president of digital, ticketing and media.

Last year, an antitrust settlement with the Justice Dept. that set up approval of the Ticketmaster-Live Nation Entertainment merger contained a proviso for just this sort of competitive venture (Daily Variety, Jan. 26, 2010). Settlement-mandated licensing of Ticketmaster’s ticketing software to AEG is rendered moot with the establishment of Axs.

Sims said the transition from the Ticketmaster platform to Axs will be completed on a market-by-market and venue-by-venue basis over the next 18 months.

AEG was Ticketmaster’s No. 1 client in 2010, accounting for $55 million in service fees, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Montreal-based Outbox, headed by former Ticketmaster CEO Fred Rosen, announced its plans to launch a ticketing service with AEG last year (Daily Variety, Oct. 10).

AEG’s venues include L.A.’s Staples Center, Nokia Theater and Club Nokia, New York’s Best Buy Theater and London’s O2 Arena. Company’s Goldenvoice division mounts the annual Coachella Music & Arts Festival in Indio.

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