Ticketfly Swims Upstream With Funding

Ticketfly recently announced it’s closed a $50 million round of Series D financing, giving it a total of $85 million in new funding to ramp up its technology and live events platforms – and power an anticipated move from primarily club and theatre spaces into larger facilities including arenas and sheds. 

In a few short years, Ticketfly has grown from a small independent ticketing company into a technology one, with emphasis on cloud-based computing, marketing, data and analytics solutions for venues and expanding mobile functionality for fans from their first ticket search through an entire live event and after.

Ticketfly CEO Andrew Dreskin believes the time is right to make moves to expand and finance an “upstream” move into larger facilities, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime moment of disruption.”

“I think no one would argue that there’s tremendous change happening in the live event space. It’s being driven by a couple of things: Revolutionary shifts in technology, and specifically social, mobile, analytics and cloud. It’s changing the equation for promoters via their technology providers,” Dreskin told Pollstar. “There’s an interesting industry dynamic taking shape as well, which is kind of the second part of the equation. The first is that Ticketmaster, the market leader, continues to have a few challenges. One is brand issues. Two is technology issues. Three is a competitive issue, post-merger with Live Nation. Now, Ticketmaster has become competitive with a large swath of its own clients.

“The social services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and the streaming music services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music, are changing the market for live events. They’re creating this growing middle market for live events. So we’re seeing a move downstream in some ways to the middle market, which is an area where we are strong,” Dreskin said. The combination of those factors makes this an opportune moment for middle market leader Ticketfly to move up into large market territory.

“Many years ago a prospective client said to me, ‘It’s interesting, the Brooklyn Bowl has better technology than some of the largest sports arenas in the country because they use you guys.’ The lightbulb went off for me,” Dreskin explained. “The needs of the largest facilities are similar to the needs of venues like the 9:30 Club or Brooklyn Bowl or the Independent, just on a grander scale.

“We’re of the view that the platform, which is arguably the definitive platform for middle market concert promoters, is transferrable to the largest facilities. So we’ve embarked on an initiative to bring that platform to larger facilities.”

Dreskin says that the company also intends to expand into the international market. But that doesn’t mean it’s abandoning the middle market that Ticketfly made its mark in.

“We’re going to double down on the market we are in and continue to serve concert promoters and live event promoters in our core market and develop features and technology to help them become better to do what they do,” Dreskin said. “We believe there is a desire from the larger facilities to have access to the same great technology that the middle market has via Ticketfly today. Ultimately, a portion of the proceeds (from the Series D funding) will facilitate our move internationally and beyond just the U.S. and Canada borders.”

Ticketfly will also invest in moving “beyond the ticket” including a program to create a unified data layer to combine ticketing and in-venue commerce data for the first time.

The acquisition of WillCall in August 2014 included a concert discovery and commerce app that is being integrated into Ticketfly to improve the fan experience and remove what Dreskin calls “friction” in concertgoing.

There’s “friction points for venues and promoters who don’t use Ticketfly, around the creation of events, the marketing of events, the ability to see unified data from their events around the ticket sales and in-venue stuff,” Dreskin explained. “The booking of artists and the fact that it has been sort of an un-integrated process.” But “ticketing is just one of the things that we do,” Dreskin continued.

“We’re very focused on providing services to promoters earlier in the process, before creating the event and after the sale of the ticket and following the fan through the lifecycle of and after the event as well

. “We continue to improve the experience for both promoters and ticketbuyers. We continue to believe there’s too much inefficiency and friction in the event creation and event-going process for promoters and fans. We continue to try to wring that friction out to make for a better experience for all constituents.”