In the Season of Ticketfly, Is It Ticketmaster’s Time to Die?

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the advent of social media, which presented very exciting opportunities that weren’t available to us back in the days of TicketWeb,” Dreskin says. “I got very excited about the notion of harvesting the ticket buyer as the event promoter. That was the thing that really sealed it for me.”

As Ticketfly was building its own ticketing platform in 2008, “one of the first things we did was to give users the opportunity to create a Facebook event as part of the event creation process,” Dreskin says. “With one press of a button, not only do they put the event up for sale on our website, but also on Facebook.”

That turned out to be a savvy move. In its first month using Ticketfly, one San Francisco club called Public Works sold two-thirds of its advance tickets through Facebook, with virtually every sale turning into a status update on somebody’s news feed or timeline. And customers who share their ticket-buying behavior on social media tend to be better customers—the company says they spend 40 percent more on tickets than non-sharers. [Data added 3/7/13; see Addendum.]

“Live events are inherently social,” says Dreskin. “We don’t buy sweaters together, we don’t reach out to our friends to buy groceries, but we do go to concerts and sporting events together. If I buy a ticket and share that to my Facebook wall and I have 500 friends, right there are probably 400 qualified potential buyers.”

After getting its Web and Facebook ticketing software running, Ticketfly turned to e-mail and Twitter, which are major publicity channels for most performance venues. The idea was to consolidate all the steps involved in event promotion into one workflow.

“It’s madness to have to enter the same event info five or six times” in different systems, says Dreskin. “With Ticketfly you enter data one time—the band, the date, the price—and all of a sudden it’s for sale on your website, it’s for sale on, you’ve created a Facebook event, you’ve sent out some tweets, and it will show up in your e-mail newsletter.”

Ticketfly’s system also provides venues with an analytics package that shows them how many tickets they’re selling, and through which channels, so they’ll know where to spend their marketing dollars. “We are trying to bring some science to ticketing,” Dreskin says.

With 100 employees and $37 million in financing from venture firms such as Mohr Davidow, Cross Creek Capital, Northgate Capital, SAP Ventures, and High Peaks Venture Partners, Ticketfly has a long way to go to catch up with Ticketmaster, or even its SoMa neighbor Eventbrite, which has twice as many employees, has raised twice as much money, and sells more than three times as many event tickets.

It’s probably unfair to compare the two startups too closely. By focusing mostly on tickets for small business functions, Eventbrite avoided taking on Ticketmaster directly (in fact, former Ticketmaster CEO Sean Moriarty is on Eventbrite’s board). Eventbrite and Ticketfly do compete in the market for medium-sized events such as festivals and general-admission concerts. But to a large extent, Eventbrite is inventing a market for event ticketing where there wasn’t one before, whereas Ticketfly is … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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13 responses to “In the Season of Ticketfly, Is It Ticketmaster’s Time to Die?”

  1. joey says:

    you have got to be kidding me. their average client sold 7k tix a year in 2011. this dropped to 5k tix a year in 2012. ticketmaster won’t even touch a client selling tickets in such low numbers.
    anyone smell a company desparately trying to beat a drum… angling for an exit?

  2. Bill S. says:

    Positioning themselves for an exit is right. Ticketfly has nothing that differentiates themselves from the competition. They do, however, have the most active and effective publicist of the bunch, so congrats to whoever is doing that work…

  3. TommyBoy says:

    A company that pumps out colorful infographics and client newsletters announcing ‘new’ features that aren’t actually new isn’t going to get a great valuation for an exit…

  4. Jered says:

    Ticketing platforms are a dime a dozen, and and the key to winning isn’t social gamification buzzword-of-the-day crap. If I’m a small artist playing a small venue, I can use this, or Eventbrite, or Brown Paper Tickets, or another.

    If I am an even moderately successful artist, I must use Ticketmaster. The vast majority of large venues have ticketing exclusivity with Ticketmaster. Most of them are owned by LiveNation. If you’re on a tour, you may not even have the option of booking a non-TM venue — TM will drop all your other dates. There aren’t enough independent venues to compete.

    How is Ticketfly going to break this monopoly? Nobody else has, and I don’t see anything here that says they have a plan.

    • Wade Roush says:

      Jered – You’d have to ask Ticketfly, but my guess is they’d say their plan is to whittle away at Ticketmaster’s monopoly one venue at a time. Obviously they’re out of luck when it comes to the venues owned by Live Nation.

  5. Shaun N says:

    Ticketfly is evil. This must be a joke. I have been turned away from a show after driving 9 hours and waiting in line in the cold for 3 hours (AT THE FRONT). After an $80 CD/t-shirt combo (for 2) we were told that stuff would be mailed and that we would have to pay $25 extra a piece for the actual tickets..which were $10 online initially. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, and this has happened to others. I’m not stuck to one or another company but at least all the tickets I’ve ever purchased with ticketmaster actually got me into the show.

    • Sean Harris says:

      Hey Shaun can I ask you where you drove from, and what concert/event you were attending? I am starting an online ticket co, and I plan to be a mid-range co that will offer some very different technology and service combination. I’m a regular dude like you, and I want to service guys like us effectively, so feed back from you on your experience would be invaluable.

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  9. TicketLie says:

    Andrew Dreskin and Ticketfly claim to be innovators, but are backed by VC money and keep going deeper and deeper in debt. They are slowly poaching their way to the middle. Pissing away money buying off slimy promoters…until the well runs dry. The only thing they spend more money on than fictitious PR is hemming his little people clothes.

  10. Rick says:

    Too funny. So he is NOT the self-proclaimed Godfather of ticketing. Lol. His old boss is.