A U.S. ticketing company launching in Canada today hopes to ease frustrations and curb costs for concert-goers and promoters alike.
You love going to concerts. But you hate buying tickets. Actually, to be more precise, you hate buying tickets from Ticketmaster. The behemoth ticketing company may or may not completely deserve its reputation as the biggest villain in the music business, although, by siphoning your hard-earned beer and t-shirt money for ever-increasing service fees and getting into the ticket scalping game by acquriring TicketsNow, it certainly has pissed off enough concert-goers to have them looking for alternatives. But as much as we love buying direct from local record stores like Rotate This and Soundscapes, and venues, too, sometimes you really just want to score tickets without having to put pants on.
Enter Ticketfly. The more indie-friendly ticketing service—founded by Ticketweb co-founder Andrew Dreskin in 2008—launches in Canada today, promising an easier, more social, and less expensive experience for local music fans. Here are five ways they plan to give Ticketmaster a run for its money.
1. Social ticketing
“The biggest challenge event promoters have is that people don’t know about the show,” says Ticketfly Canada’s new general manager, Bruce Morrison, formerly of the Sony Centre and, um, Ticketmaster. “No offence to The Grid, but you can’t just take out an ad and expect everyone will see it and come anymore.” So Ticketfly is integrated into Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, and lets you buy tickets right from the event pages, as well as RSVP, and invite friends, etc. “Ticketmaster has certainly made some inroads in terms of Facebook integration, but we think we can do it better,” Morrison says. “One of the things is that we’re not asking to be the face of the transcation—it’s about the relationship between the consumer and the promoter, or the venue, or the band. [Customers are] buying from our client directly, whether that’s the Horseshoe Tavern or anybody else.”
2. Making promoters’ lives easier
Ticketfly’s first Canadian partners include Collective Concerts, Union Events, and Inertia Entertainment, and one of their big selling features is making life easier for independent companies by simplifying the process of updating show information across all social-media networks. Amy Hersenhoren of Collective Concerts explains straight-up how Ticketfly has helped their operations: “They are incredibly forward-thinking from a technological standpoint. Their back-end is one of the most phenomenal things I’ve ever seen. We have two admin staff, and they are generally bogged down in social-media updates, keeping our website current, adding support acts, having to provide links for all the managers, and on and on. I think Ticketfly has just cut that work in half.” And why should the concert-goer care about this kind of behind-the-scenes business? The happier and healthier promoters are, the more likely they’ll stay in business, which means more competition, more shows coming to town, and, hopefully, lower prices for everyone.
3. Lower fees
Yes, those dreaded service fees, which can comprise up to one third of your final ticket price, may also get the beat-down from the arrival of Ticketfly. In 2010, a Wired headline proclaimed, “Ticketfly Promises 30 Percent Lower Fees Than Ticketmaster.” While Bruce Morrison doesn’t quite make that guarantee he does says that “ traditionally, in the U.S. market, [our rates] have been lower [than Ticketmaster's].”
It’s hard to tell right now since there are fewer than 100 gigs on sale at Ticketfly Canada and most of them are out west, but Noel Peters of Inertia Entertainment claims that one of the reasons he switched ticketing partners is that Ticketfly will give his customers a better deal. “Fans are faced with ever-escalating costs via Ticketmaster and I wish to keep my costs reasonable and low for them. I am in a niche style of music, and three tickets purchased could easily have $25 in Ticketmaster fees—the cost of another ticket. With Ticketfly, the new service fees for my fans are between $2 and 4$ per ticket and there is not a charge for printing the ticket from the convenience of your own home.” In the U.S., the company and its partners have also offered “fee free days” on Black Friday and such, so hopefully those kind of promotions will show up here as well.
4. More CanCon
“Our company has a commitment to using a Canadian team because there are small but important differences, in customer service, and in privacy policies, for example,” explains Morrison. So, in addition to hiring Morrison—a General Manager who worked for Ticketmaster Canada for 13 years, as well as CPI when they handled The Rolling Stones, The Who and Streisand tours—Ticketfly is opening a Toronto office and is currently seeking a local Account Specialist and Sales Director.
5. No time-outs
While Ticketfly’s currently partnered with indie promoters, it’s perfectly capable of handling big-ass shows too. Morrison claims their system can process up to 40,000 transactions per minute. And one feature that will delight anyone who has ever had a heart attack trying to snag seats from Ticketmaster’s website on the first day of sales, only to get a time out message from an overloaded system, is Ticketfly’s waiting room, similar to what the Toronto International Film Festival rolled out for online sales last year. “When the system is very busy, rather than telling the customer ‘try again,’ we put them in a virtual waiting room, so that they are in a queue,” says Morrison. Ah, yes, the queue. Almost has you longing for the days of lining up outside the Sunrise Records overnight to buy tickets. Almost.