Under the leadership of Jared Smith, Ticketmaster had one of its best years in 2019 – as parent company Live Nation’s revenue was up 7% to $11.5 billion and Ticketmaster reported 2019 an estimated 486 million-plus tickets sold, with 115 million internationally – and was on the verge of rolling out SafeTix technology and fan identity-based mobile ticketing to 80-90% of its customers. Then COVID-19 prompted changes to 30,000 impacted events within the span of a month, more than Ticketmaster has had to process in the last 15 years.
Smith takes pride in the way the company has responded to that crisis and, during the shutdown, the company has developed a product to improve the queueing/waiting room process and refined products like Ticketmaster Reserve, which was used in the Pearl Jam onsale to take advance orders from the fan club and fulfill them based on prioritization determined by the club operators. While the shutdown may cast a long shadow over North America, Smith notes that countries including The Netherlands are beginning to resume business, with 5 Seconds Of Summer putting a show on sale there, and the comeback story may vary for each of the more than 30 countries Ticketmaster operates in.
Smith expects a wide variety of situations to materialize and foresees demand for some of the largest artists being high as ever, whereas other artists may wisely decide to modify their pricing.
While Ticketmaster had a record-setting 2019 the biggest blow to the company came in April when approximately 25% of its workforce was furloughed, a decision Smith referred to as the hardest he has had to make during his tenure as president.
Regarding diversity in the live industry, Smith said, “I think it’s one of the most important topics on the table today, because we haven’t dealt with it as an industry, and more generally as a society, for way too long. We always look inward first, and we haven’t done a good enough job of making sure we have the representation we want, or even understanding some of the core issues that present themselves within our walls and our industry.
“I have learned more, introspectively, in the last month than I had learned in my entire career about some of the challenges and struggles that some of our employees face, and the situation itself.”