A Ticketfly On The Wall

The co-founders of the first online ticketing service are back and rolling out a new company that could turn out to be a fly in industry-dominant Ticketmaster’s ointment.

Andrew Dreskin and Dan Teree, who founded TicketWeb in 1995 before selling it to Ticketmaster Online/Citysearch in 2000, are the guys behind Ticketfly, a service that does much more than connect fans with tickets.

Ticketfly.com combines next-generation ticketing technology with cutting edge marketing and social networking tools to create what Dreskin hopes will be “the coolest ticketing site on the block.”

Dreskin described Ticketfly’s business model as being made up of four “buckets” – ticketing, marketing, Web site and community – rather than providing a simple portal.

“Online ticketing just hasn’t changed that much in the last decade,” Dreskin told Pollstar. “Systems today do largely what they did when we were in TicketWeb-world in 1998.”

Included in the business plan is creation of ticketing technology including yield management, dynamic pricing and primary auctions. Marketing, the second “bucket,” is an area the fledgling company is putting a lot of energy and focus into, Dreskin said.

“It’s our view that the world doesn’t need just another ticketing company,” he said. “Our view is that what venues and promoters really need are a better marketing partner and better provider of market technology. So we’re hugely focused on developing state of the art marketing and, more specifically, social marketing technology for venues and event promoters.”

The Ticketfly.com Web site brings all the elements, including the fan community, together. With space for blogging, uploading artist videos and one-click tools for populating other Web sites and social networking hubs like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, Dreskin’s goal is to turn the ticket-buying experience into an event of its own.

“It’s crazy how the ticketing world works today,” Dreskin said. “It’s totally siloed and it creates inefficiencies. It costs promoters time and money.

“Today, when a promoter confirms an act, they have to build the event in their ticketing software, then build the same event in their e-mail newsletter, then build the same event on their Facebook page, tweet the same event and then build it yet again on MySpace. I think you get the point.”

Dreskin explained that with the fully integrated Ticketfly.com interface, a venue or promoter can create an event page just once and use that to populate other spaces including their own Web sites, ticketing pages, e-mail blasts, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

And Ticketfly.com also makes room for the ticket-buying customers as well. “We find it bewildering that in the ticketing experience and transaction, there’s no voice being given to the promoter or ticket buyer,” Dreskin said.

Ticketfly.com will offer ticket buyers a platform where they can communicate around the live music experience and learn about new acts. We will allow them, soon, to upload show reviews, photos, videos, do ticket trading, arrainge ride sharing for a more interesting, richer experience.”

So far, Dreskin and Teree have convinced about a dozen clubs, plus the Knitting Factory network, to come along for the ride. And Nov. 10, Ticketfly announced it has landed another major client – Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club.

It’s a good fit; Dreskin co-produces the annual Virgin Festival with 9:30 Club partner Seth Hurwitz and they each credit the other with being forward thinking businessmen.

“The guy’s a visionary,” Dreskin said of Hurwitz. “It takes someone with a lot of foresight to identify a new company with new technology and say, ‘This is what I think is the right path forward for me and for my venue.’ And they’re still looking forward. They asked, ‘What’s the best solution for us to sell tickets, to reach our consumers, to better know our consumers, to hit them where they are on their social networks, and I think that’s why Seth decided to do a deal with us.”

Hurwitz was equally effusive about Dreskin.

“Andrew and I think alike,” Hurwitz told Pollstar. “All my experience with Andrew has been nothing but great and I’m excited that he’s excited about all these ticketing ideas. If anyone can do something creatively and reliably, it’s him.”

But the deal was not without its setbacks – to at least Tickets.com, which had been providing ticketing services for the 9:30 Club.
“The best way to help get [Ticketfly] started was to give them the 9:30 Club. Unfortunately, Tickets.com was the ticketing company we had and we liked them, too. And we are going to find them other stuff,” Hurwitz said.

Hurwitz and Dreskin acknowledge that Ticketfly is in its formative stages providing a ticketing alternative in the small- to mid-market venue range. For example, while doing the deal for the 9:30 Club, it won’t include Merriweather Post Pavilion – the 18,000-capacity shed in Columbia, Md., ticketed by TM and managed by Hurwitz’s I.M.P.

Hurwitz filed an anti-trust suit against Live Nation in March, and has been quite vocal with his concern that a LN-Ticketmaster merger could mean being forced to use his concert promotion competitor as his ticketing service. He doesn’t think the entry of Ticketfly into the market creates competition for Ticketmaster in the current environment.

“It’s one step at a time at this point,” Hurwitz said. “It’s going to take quite a while to develop alternatives like this, so I think people want to get started now in case we need to have them. It’s a long learning curve between taking over the 1,200-seat GA 9:30 Club and doing Merriweather Post Pavilion.

“But it would be hypocritical of us not to nurture this and try to help them get going.”

Dreskin said Ticketfly is not yet looking to strike deals with major venues such as arenas or sheds, yet. But he believes his model and infrastructure could facilitate larger onsales and events in time.

And Hurwitz believes in Dreskin’s entrepreneurship at a time of uncertainty for independent promoters and venue operators in the shadow of the pending Ticketmaster merger with Live Nation.

“That’s who built this business. Real businessmen, real entrepreneurs, that’s who will survive,” Hurwitz said. “We’ll be the cockroaches after the nuclear war and I’d say the bombs are going off right now.”