You don’t need to be an industry insider to know that the ticketing segment of the music business needs a major overhaul. Concerts are more relevant to the industry now than they have been in a very long time, but there’s a lot more to be done if we are to see them reach their full potential — for artists and their fans. Thankfully, movers and shakers like the innovators behind new school ticketing platform TicketFly still exist.
Led by people who can legitimately claim to be the first to ever sell a concert ticket on the Internet back in the 90s, the company is currently capitalizing on social media and the data it provides to improve business for their clients and all those around them. We caught up with Ticketfly Biz Dev aficionado Ryan O’Connor to talk about the tactics his company is currently using to make headway in an industry sector plagued with antiquated business models. Give the interview below a read through — you’ll see that there’s reason for optimism if you’re fed up with the ticketing status quo!
IndieAmbassador.com: Concert-goers often complain about the way ticketing is done for the majority of concerts today. What about the system needs fixing?
Ryan O’Connor: For starters, service fee pricing needs to be more transparent. That’s an issue all concert-goers can get behind. The market demands it, yet some companies charge as much as $3.50 per order to allow people to print their own tickets at home. There’s no argument to defend that delivery channel: it’s complete BS.
Second to the services fees, would be the transactional experience, which lacks insight into the consumer. It’s amazing how much data ticketing companies sit on without leveraging it to their client’s advantage. You would think in the age of Facebook and Spotify, there’s no reason why ticketing companies shouldn’t combine my purchase history with my likes, and playlists as well as the likes of my friends to serve me a curated list of shows I would be more likely to see. It makes me aware of what’s going on, while helping the artist reach a larger audience. It’s win-win.
IndieAmbassador.com: What is Ticketfly doing to break the mold that was put in place by companies like Ticketmaster during the 20th century?
RO: Ticketfly’s founders are the godfathers of concert ticketing. They were the first to ever sell a concert ticket on the Internet, which is a pretty substantial claim when you think about it. Ticketfly plans on continuing that tradition of innovation.
With that said, not much has changed since Andrew (Andrew Dreskin, CEO) and Dan (Dan Teree, President and COO) got in the game in the mid 90’s. As you can imagine, the model that was once cutting edge is now completely inadequate for today’s promoter, whose marketing channels are hyper fragmented and require constant upkeep.
This is where Ticketfly comes in.
Instead of listing your show data over and over to promote across your marketing assets, Ticketfly’s solution comes fully integrated with the client’s website, smartphone app, email newsletter, Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well a over 150 event listing websites that drive consumers to our client’s events. Additionally, Ticketfly is the only company that provides clients with our proprietary Artist Database, which contains the bios, headshots, audio and video files of over 100,000 artists that will automatically upload as you create your event.
Beyond the content integration what ultimately sets Ticketfly apart is the quality of our data. We sit on a tremendous amount of information and are uniquely positioned to combine that information with other platforms because of our technological advantage. This results in compelling actionable insights for our clients. Put simply, if you want to know how many tickets you sold through your Facebook page, and what the demographics of those buyers are, we can show you. Instantly.
IndieAmbassador.com: How does Ticketfly feel about secondary ticketing agencies like StubHub? Are they good or bad for the live music industry?
RO: Secondary ticketing agencies face a dilemma of perception, meaning they’re largely viewed as perpetuators of scalping. Ticketfly is obviously anti-scalping. What we’re not against is the idea of one ticket buyer exchanging his ticket on an open platform. We think that’s fair.
With that said, you can’t deny the impact of the secondary market as a channel for ticket re-sales. What we’d like to see is an integrated approach to helping the primary market push their tickets first. Thus far, there’s been little integration in that regard which is surprising when you consider the upside potential to create a new revenue stream and perpetuate a better image amongst buyers and promoters.
IndieAmbassador.com: Concert revenue has gone up in the first half of 2011, but the number of tickets sold has decreased since the same time last year. What does this mean to you? Are promoters getting greedy and making tickets too expensive?
RO: Looking at absolute figures, you’re correct, but I think that skews towards Live Nation given their market share. If we look at it in terms of percentages, it tells a different story. By quickly comparing the top 20 US promoters using the recent 3Q figures from Pollstar to the same period in 2010, I see AEG is up by 8.79%, C3 by 12.26% as well as Another Planet, AC and Knitting Factory up by 36%, 18% and 119% respectively.
With that in mind, you might conclude that the bellwether promoter is losing while the smaller, independent promoters are gaining ground. That’s not a function of greed, that’s a function of Live Nation’s model failing.
IndieAmbassador.com: Do you think the concept of VIP ticketing packages will continue to grow and play a large role in the live event arena moving forward?
RO: Consumers are always looking for more value and a more enriched experience. Not just in music, but in all forms of entertainment. Look at the rapid growth of Gilt City, Living Social, or Groupon. It’s about the upsell, not the discount. The same will hold true for concerts, especially large destination festivals like Rock the Bells, or Life is Good.
IndieAmbassador.com: To what extent does Ticketfly harness social media to help sell more tickets? What other creative techniques have you seen being employed by ticketing agencies and promoters alike?
RO: Ticketfly’s infrastructure was built with social in its DNA. It’s a distinct advantage to our timing into the market. Beyond the code, we’ve built our product, marketing and business development departments to make sure that the overall Ticketfly ecosystem is top notch when it comes to leveraging new trends.
A great example would be Ticketfly’s invitation to participate in F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference. This is where Zuckerberg announces the latest new features that change the way people utilize the network, the implications of which can have a real affect on your business if you’re not up to speed. This year Ticketfly was asked by Facebook to participate in the early stages of these new releases, where we were able to provide feedback and get a head start on developing before it hit the masses. It was a real privilege.
As for specific techniques, we’ve been implementing giveaways via social since the company’s inception. For example, this year the Virgin Mobile Free Fest wanted Facebook to be the only channel to get tickets. We did this by setting up a custom splash image on the VMFF Facebook page through Buddy Media. Customers then had to go to the VMFF page and “Like” it to access tickets. The event sold out in minutes, Virgin gained thousands of more Likes, as well as all the social data attached to each buyer.
IndieAmbassador.com: What excites you most about the music industry today?
RO: Outsiders getting into this business. I get calls almost every day from people who are looking to improve the model, many of whom don’t have a background in the industry. To that point, almost all of them are focused on the issue of discovery like SongKick, Spotify, ShareMyPlaylist, SeatGeek, Fansnap, etc. They’re all about driving eyeballs in new and innovative ways. When you consider that over 40% of our inventory goes unsold, we need every advantage we can get.
Indie Ambassador Resources is an educational series produced by Indie Ambassador. Through our video panels, industry profiles and articles, artists and music professionals can educate themselves on general business topics, new technology and current industry trends.