Canadian concertgoers will likely soon have an alternative to Ticketmaster and Eventbrite.
Justin Sweeting, music director of Magnetic Asia, revealed this week that one of his company’s divisions, Total Ticketing, has already signed up a “national promoter” in Canada.
Magnetic Asia is an entertainment company based in Hong Kong. It stages the Clockenflap and Sonar music festivals in that city, among other events.
Speaking at the Jade Music Festival in Vancouver, Sweeting noted that one of the company’s “pillars” is offering ticketing services. And he’s moved to Ottawa to get this business off the ground in North America.
“Ticketing for us kind of falls into two areas,” Sweeting said. “One is our primary ticketing platform is in Hong Kong. Secondly is the technology that powers that platform, but also powers a lot of other people’s platforms. This is one of the main reasons why I’ve set up our office here in Ottawa.”
In his 13-minute speech at the Annex on December 1, Sweeting did not identify the company’s client. However, he noted that Total Ticketing has also opened offices in the U.K. (where he was educated), as well as in Singapore, Manila, and a few other locations.
“We’ve actually found through the pandemic we’ve been able to expand this side of the business, which has been useful,” Sweeting said.
His comments came less than two weeks after Ticketmaster apologized to Taylor Swift and her fans for a ticketing fiasco in connection with her upcoming tour.
Magnetic Asia launched Clockenflap
Sweeting co-founded Magnetic Asia in 2007 to support a festival business in Hong Kong. The CEO is Mike Hill, who has a master’s degree in software engineering from the University of Liverpool.
“Our approach, generally with everything we do, is we…bring something to Hong Kong, which didn’t exist before,” the Hong Kong-born Sweeting said.
Moreover, he added that a city the size and stature of Hong Kong deserved a world-class music event. Magnetic Asia staged the first Clockenflap held in 2008. Only 2,000 people showed up, but it laid a solid foundation for future growth.
By its peak before the pandemic, Clockenflap attracted about 70,000 people over a three-day weekend, according to Sweeting. The festival offers a long list of musical performers, family-friendly activities, art, and curated food offerings, with the goal of appealing to music lovers of all ages.
“These kind of events happen so rarely in Hong Kong,” Sweeting said. “When they do, you get this real explosion of joy because people want it. And we want to be able to give people more of these opportunities.”
In the past, Canadian acts such as Feist, Metric, and Tegan and Sara have played Clockenflap. Many Chinese-language bands also perform at the festival.
Meanwhile, Sonar Hong Kong serves as a meeting point for music creativity and technology, attracting about 10,000 per day.
“We use the Hong Kong Science Park, which feels to us like it was purpose-built for doing something like Sonar,” Sweeting said.
In addition, Magnetic Asia books headline shows and oversees stage production and marketing. It also organizes tours and operates its own music-sharing platform with podcast-style online shows.
Company rebranded ticketing division
In 2012, Total Ticketing was founded, according to Hill’s Linkedin profile. For the first eight years, the platform went by the name Ticketflap under Magnetic Asia’s “Asia Ticketing Limited” division.
Magnetic Asia built its ticketing platform with a capacity to deal with different languages and different currencies. Sweeting said that the company’s executives didn’t anticipate at the outset that they would be competing internationally. But they eventually realized that this was possible after ending up with a very sophisticated system.
In 2020, Hill unveiled the new brand name, Total Ticketing Limited. According to a globalamusementsandplay.com article, this was “to represent the business’s expansion into a globally focused full-service event technology solutions company”.
“The simplest way to think about our technology is [as] a really kind of souped-up white-label service,” Sweeting said at the Jade Music Festival.