Jared Smith is stepping down as global chairman of Ticketmaster at the end of the year.
Smith, 42, has been with the company for more than 17 years, although he was just promoted to chairman in August. According to the announcement, which was first published by Sportico, Smith and Michael Rapino, CEO of Ticketmaster owner Live Nation Entertainment, have had ongoing discussions over the past few years regarding a succession plan, and Smith said that the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted live events around the world and wracked the ticketing industry, provided the right opportunity to make that move.
Mark Yovich, who was promoted to global president at the same time Smith was named chairman, will remain in that role, while North America president Amy Howe will become COO. Smith will stay on through the end of the year to help with the transition.
“The company deserves to have the person who’s going to be here long-term making the hard decisions right now of what it should look like,” Smith told the site.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which is the world’s largest live-entertainment company, have been hit with hundreds of layoffs and furloughs throughout the year, reaching across all business units. While Rapino has made aggressive moves to help the company weather the pandemic, the live-entertainment industry has been crushed by the lockdown: Revenue was down by a staggering 98% from year-to-year — from $3.2 billion to $74 million — in the company’s most recent quarterly earnings report. Ticketmaster furloughed a quarter of its staff late in April, while Live Nation furloughed a reported 20% of its employees the following month, with Rapino foregoing his entire $3 million salary for the year and other top execs taking 50% pay cuts.
However, in its August earnings report, the company said that 86% of fans have chosen to hold onto their tickets for rescheduled shows instead of asking for refunds, “indicating a strong desire to attend concerts in the future.” The number of fans throwing their tickets for festivals into the following year rather than opting for a refund is lower, at about two-thirds. But Live Nation pointed to strong sales for festivals in Europe that have already gone on sale for next summer, saying 19 million tickets have been sold for 2021 shows.
In the earnings call, Rapino expressed faith in vaccines and treatment to make the world safe for shows a year from now.
Smith started at Ticketmaster in 2003 in an entry-level sales job in Birmingham, Alabama, became COO in 2010 following the merger with Live Nation, and was named president of its North America operation three years later. He’s also currently an executive vice president of Live Nation.
“I owe my entire career to sports and entertainment,” he said. “I love the business, the people, the dynamic relationship between the consumer and the product. As I evaluate opportunities, whether it’s within or outside the live event industry, the most important thing to me is finding an opportunity with great growth potential that leverages my experience of building innovative products, high performing teams and operating at real scale.”