Interview with Dean Budnick, co-author of Ticketmaster: The Rise of the Concert Industry

  Dean Budnick, who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard’s History of American Civilization program and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, is Executive Editor at Relix Magazine. His latest book, which he co-authored with Josh Baron, is Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped. Ticket Masters chronicles the previously untold story of the modern concert industry, revealing the origins, development and ongoing strategies of companies such as Ticketmaster, Live Nation, StubHub and the efforts of numerous independent competitors.


What do you think is the future of the live music industry?

Wow that is the big question, isn’t it? First off let me just say that despite broader economic concerns and the distractions brought on by mobile phone video capture, I am confident that live music will survive and thrive. I think that increasingly the emphasis will be on live music as an in-the-moment collective experience. There is a tangible, vital difference between watching a song on YouTube and engaging a performance in its many layers in the live setting. There may be some added pressure on artists and promoters for additional performance craft and production elements but I feel there’s a real opportunity. This also bodes well for festivals, which not only provide value in terms of the scope of music that is presented but also add a range of additional elements that elevate the context beyond just that of an audience member watching a musician on stage.


Online ticketing is a big business, what are some trends you have noticed within the industry?

The proliferation of secondary sales platforms has very much changed the game. What I think sometimes eludes people is not just that this has made it easier for professional ticket brokers, although that certainly is the case. What’s more significant though is the awareness and the ability for interested amateurs to make some pin money. When Bieber tickets go on sale, anyone from a soccer mom in Nebraska to a college student in Montana to a retiree in Maine, can make a little quick dough if they score some seats and then flip them on StubHub or TicketsNow. This has changed everyone’s perceptions about how to secure tickets and also how to monetize them as well.

Meanwhile, the online world has opened doors for venues and promoters to take charge in a new way. There are so many more opportunities to connect directly with a potential audience, share information and then ultimately sell tickets. Also, while customer data was once out of reach, in many cases it is now available and can be utilized for marketing purposes and to nurture relationships with fan communities.


What band revolutionized online ticket sales?

I’d have to start things out with the Grateful Dead. Josh Baron and I devote an entire chapter of our book to the origins and growth of Grateful Dead Ticket Sales. The Dead really were at the fore in terms of securing 50% of the inventory to all of their shows and then selling them to fans. Of course this raised the ire of Ticketmaster in the face of the company’s exclusivity agreements with venues but as we detail, the “Wooly Freaks” as Bob Weir described them held their own after a sit-down with CEO Fred Rosen.

Still, while the Dead changed the nature of what could be accomplished, they were selling hard tickets. Once we move into the online realm, it was groups like Phish and Dave Matthews Band that really picked up the mantle. In this context, I also think it’s important to single out the String Cheese Incident. We devote a chapter to their story in Ticket Masters. They too were selling online and also had been able to receive 50% of the seats but in the summer of 2003 they were shut down resulting in their decision to sue Ticketmaster. They eventually settled out of court and were required to abide by a non-disclosure statement but they were allowed to keep their allotment.

How has social media affected ticket sales?

Social media has facilitated a new ease and grace of communication. Information can flow directly from bands, promoters and festivals to fans and enthusiasts. Not only does this assist with ticket sales and related opportunities but it draws audience members into the circle earlier and more directly, creating an enduring connection for many people. The ability to have an exchange with one’s favorite artist or receive answers from a promoter or festival insider just makes for a deeper, more satisfying experience all around.


Interview with Vendini

Vendini is the leader in cloud-based ticketing solutions. Thousands of organizations utilize Vendini’s solutions for event promotionticket salesbox office management and mobile ticketing and scanning. The company’s suite of applications includes a fully integrated marketing system to promote events via email and social networks like Facebook and Twitter.  With over a decade of experience, Vendini is the preferred provider for thousands of organizations including Folk West, Arena Theater in Houston and Irvine Barclay Theatre.

 How do you think online ticketing software has helped music and film festivals world-wide?

Online ticketing has allowed festivals sell more tickets by giving fans an easy way to buy tickets when they decide they want to go.  Lost sales are reduced while waiting for the box office to open or someone to answer the phone.   Costs are reduced as box office orders, printing and fulfilling of tickets is moved to print at home and electronic tickets.

How has film and music festivals impacted Vendini?

Music and film festivals have helped Vendini to expand our product in many different ways to support them, including multi day passes, RFID support, and on site services.

How has Vendini’s ticketing system helped increase ticket sales at film and music festivals?

Vendini not only helps festivals with online sales but also with marketing solutions via multiple channels including email, online, social (Facebook and Twitter), and friend to friend (see Walletini in the mobile app stores).

Has the presence of social media and the ability to share information with your peers made a significant impact on ticket sale growth for concerts?

We have seen our customers percentage of ticket sales through social channels grow over 50% in the past year alone.  As commerce through mobile and social channels becomes mainstream, we expect this growth to continue.

What is your perspective on the future of film and music festivals?

Our customers are seeing growth in their festivals as fans are gravitating more towards events versus single acts and films.  We expect this trend to continue and see a bright future for festivals.

Interview with Eventbrite

At Eventbrite, we believe that selling tickets is no longer just a monetary transaction. We see ticketing as an opportunity to leverage technology—to help event holders be smarter about how they allocate marketing dollars, generate cash flow, and understand their attendees. We help our event holders grow their events, build their brand, and ultimately increase revenue by offering the perfect attendee experience. Founded in 2006 and backed by Sequoia Capital, Eventbrite has helped event organizers sell over 16 million tickets.

I recently read an article regarding Eventbrite ticketing and how it increased recent Warped Tour ticket sales. Can you tell us how that was accomplished?

This is the second year we supported the Warped Tour. In 2011 we ticketed one stop on the tour; that went so well that this year we increased our partnership to five stops. Eventbrite makes it very easy for people to share ticket purchases and event details on Facebook and Twitter, which generates organic, word-of-mouth promotion that can be extremely powerful for music festivals.  

Ticket sales is a big business, what current trends are happening within the ticketing

Mobile payments is a huge opportunity in the ticketing industry, and across all categories of commerce. We’ve developed an innovative ipad app called At The Door that turns an off-the-shelf ipad into a mobile box office that can accept and track cash and credit card payments. Festival organizers love it because they can take it anywhere (even if their venue doesn’t have a traditional box office setup), and it’s so easy to use, volunteers can be trained on the app in no time.

Have you found that social media has made a positive or negative impact on the ticketing industry?

Without a doubt the impact is positive. We see event organizers in all categories benefiting from the integrated sharing tools we have on Eventbrite. By making it easy for people to share ticket purchase information on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, our customers are turning fans into powerful promoters. For example, we’ve found that every time someone shares a concert on Eventbrite on Facebook, it drives on average an additional $12 in gross ticket sales. 

What tips do you have for film and music festivals looking to start ticket sales online?

Certainly festival organizers should check out our blog for all kinds of helpful tips and tricks. In particular for festivals, I recommend creating tiered pricing to encourage early purchases, and really marketing around those early bird deals. I also recommend that festival organizers think all the way through the on-site experience for a ticket-buyer–if there is information you can provide for your attendees that will make registration easier, or make their experience better, use the order confirmation as an opportunity to offer those resources.

Interview with Ticketfly

Ticketfly is the fastest-growing, independent ticketing and social marketing platform. Ticketfly offers event promoters next-generation ticketing and powerful website and social marketing tools, saving them time and money. Ticketfly was created by the team who first brought event ticketing to the Web. Recently, Fast Company named Ticketfly one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Music and Billboard called Ticketfly one of the Five Hot Digital Music Companies to Watch.

How has social media changed the face of ticket sales for concerts?

Social ticketing has not only made it easier for fans to drive a large percentage of sales by providing social sharing opportunities throughout the purchase process, but for promoters to save time on social marketing by automating their efforts, freeing them up to focus on other aspects of their business. The analytics behind social ticketing means promoters can see exactly which channels drive the most sales and even reward their most active and social fans.
In emerging consumer markets like EDM ticketing, it’s more important than ever to be plugged into the social media behavior of fans and provide opportunities for them to buy tickets wherever they are, including mobile, Facebook, Twitter, and email. 16% of all time spent online in the U.S. is spent on Facebook; when you see a number like that, the importance of Facebook as a marketing and sales channel becomes obvious.

What are some trends you have noticed in the ticketing industry?

Social media has taken a front seat in the ticketing industry, and event promoters are starting to expect a strong set of social tools from their provider. We’ve also found that as the live music industry booms, and more upstart companies are taking on planning festivals and opening venues, promoters are looking for more of a complete ticketing solution. Rather than a company that will just handle the sales, fulfillment and financial aspects of ticketing, promoters need an “all-in” partner that will also help drive marketing, branding, and operations.
The rise of social media has meant that fans are asking for more. As active marketers of our events, fans are savvy, and have come to expect a return on their loyalty and the sales they drive. As a result, fan rewards and VIP programs are becoming prominent as well.
On the artist side, a few very vocal acts like Louis CK and LCD Soundsystem doing DIY artist ticketing have put a spotlight on independent ticketing solutions for artists, and called the exclusivity of major ticketing deals into question.
And finally, as more promoters move away from legacy ticketing solutions, more than anything they want an independent provider like Ticketfly that’s scalable for every size of event, from high demand General Admission club shows to reserved seating venues, amphitheatre events, and non-music festivals.

What does the future of Ticketfly look like?

We are building a long-term, sustainable company, committed to continuing innovation and finding new ways to help our partners sell more tickets and build their brands. We started with a strong base of relationships and expertise in mid-size rock venues, but as we have grown over the past three years we have seen great interest and adoption across a broad set of verticals, including fairs and festivals, EDM, sports, performing arts, and more. We are also in the early stages of looking at new markets beyond the United States where we could make a big difference and shake up ticketing and event marketing for the better. Our goal is to be the leading platform for events of every size and type, and to unseat legacy providers who are relying on outdated technology and business practices to hamper progress in the industry.

What tips do you have for music and film festivals looking to start online ticket sales?

When choosing a ticketing provider for your festival, be optimistic! Plan to have an annual festival that lasts more than a year and plan to sell it out. Select a ticketing partner like Ticketfly that will be able to scale with your success, with an experienced team that not only understands what it takes to market and sell your tickets, but can help you run your operations smoothly on the day of the event. It may seem like a good idea to use a self-service ticketing provider, but with so many other aspects of planning a festival to worry about, you will be better off going with a partner that can take marketing, ticketing and entry management work off your plate and keep you focused on bringing the best possible experience to your fans.


IMFCON Client’s in the News- August 22, 2012

The IMFCON Client’s in the News is a collection of articles and features about professionals and collaborators in the music festival industry.  This section helps keep those working in the film festival business stay updated on relevant news and information regarding the people within these organizations.


Eventbrite Now Recommends Events to 20 Million Users, Boosting Ticket Sales Along the Way

Online ticket sales startup Eventbrite is always looking for new ways that it can boost attendance at various events that are run on its platform. In December, it launched a recommendation system that would offer up events its users might want to attend, and now, about seven months later, it’s sharing some data about how that system is performing.