Pollstar Live! New Platforms And Solutions For Ticketing

Outdated technology, uninspiring user experiences, control issues, aversion to risk and a lack of knowledge about the customer base are some of the biggest challenges facing the ticketing industry in the foreseeable future. 

Photo: Barry Brecheisen
Panel moderator

Of course Pollstar Live! ticketing panels haven’t ever been known for reaching consensus and this year’s group followed suit, presenting a number of concerns and solutions that may have sounded good – or ghastly – depending on where your loyalties lie.

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ScoreBig’s David Marcus explained how new money and consolidation in the secondary market have started to transform the way tickets move from buildings to consumers.

“New money is coming in, pulling tickets out and distributing them through channels that venues don’t control. And that’s making it much harder for you to own that relationship, and own that consumer experience,” he said. “This intermediation between the presenter and the consumer is a big issue and is increasingly at risk.”

But is the industry at least partially to blame for the relationships it’s losing? Stubhub’s Ray Elias seemed to think so. “We aggregated the supply and the demand, and our sole purpose is to focus is on the fan,” he said. “We don’t view ourselves as disruptive but as an incumbent part of the industry. We’ve created choice, transparency and access for fans. We believe that the industry has the same opportunity.”

Then again, why let the industry do it when the artists could just as easily control their own tickets and relationships? David B. Cooper of Direct To Fan cautioned that ticketing companies are facing extinction and described the process behind ticketing, merch and media sales he developed for Pearl Jam.

“The ticketing companies that exist today are either going to modify and go deeper and sell more products and services or they’re going to be out of business as a single-channel sales tool,” he said, noting that for Pearl jam, “we started finding out how could we benefit fans who didn’t get tickets. We started sending out coupons to get money off their live record. I sold more albums in certain markets as a ticketing company than I sold tickets. These fans want more.”

Global Spectrum’s Jacquelyn Holowaty agreed that fans do want more, and stressed there are so many ways for venues to connect with fans – before, during and after the show. Using mobile technology, you can notify fans before the show of hotels and restaurants in the area, she said. And during the event, push notifications can alert patrons to where merch and concessions are sold and where the nearest restrooms might be located. “There’s so many opportunities that we’re still not capitalizing on,” Holowaty said.

Sending generic messages to fans doesn’t work, though. Josh Baron of Crowdsurge lamented how venue marketing often seems so automated. “We try to allow artists to personally reach out to fans and I think they can differentiate when there’s a higher touch, more personal aspect to the relationship, versus just being hit with an offer for five other bands they don’t care about,” he said.

Of course, it’s pretty hard to market to fans when you don’t know who’s filling the seats to begin with. That’s where Alan Gelfand’s Fair Ticket Solutions comes in. Gelfand praised the airline industry for getting it right when it comes to identifying customers and complained there’s simply too much fraud in ticketing. “It all comes back to you have to control your tickets,” he said. “If you don’t control your tickets, you don’t have data. If you don’t have data, you don’t know what the price is worth” and when consumers purchase from secondary sources and get burned, it can hurt the entire industry.