Earlier this spring, we wrote a piece about how SoundCloud’s business model had completely missed the boat on disrupting digital distribution, so much so that it’s arguably the equivalent of beating a 10-year-dead horse. The live music ticketing industry, however, is a whole other story, and there are probably at least half a dozen major concert ticketing platforms I transact with on a regular basis without being able to tell a shred of difference between them. The only exception is Ticketmaster, probably because my ass hurts every time I have to pay their absurd fees.
Enter The Ticket Fairy, the brainchild of ex-promoter Ritesh Patel and his brother Jigar, who together have built the most sophisticated and disruptive technology to ever arrive in the live music space, founded after Ritesh spent years taking massive financial risks throwing shows, and occasionally losing out. “The overall goal is simply to the mitigate the risk of running a gig or festival,” Ritesh explains. We’re happy to report that Ticket Fairy is a paradigm-shifting platform where no one, neither buyer nor seller, has to put their ass at risk ever again. Here’s how:
Every single aspect of an events business, from marketing the show itself, to talent buying, to soliciting sponsorship, can benefit from leveraging customer data. Whether it’s increasing sales conversion rates, boosting fan engagement, pinpointing exactly what fans care about from talent to vendors, or usually all of the above, utilizing customer data collected from social media and music streaming platforms, can accomplish all of these goals with astounding efficiency. First, The Ticket Fairy turns every buyer into a sub-promoter, meaning that customers who get their friends to buy tickets can get up to 100 percent of their ticket money refunded for referring additional sales. Most Ticket Fairy promoters offer a full refund for customers who get eight friends to come to the show, although they can set any threshold for full and partial refunds.
This facet alone is massive for the industry, particularly dance music in North America which is a fickle, high-turnover marketplace. Legacy festivals like Ultra Music Festival and EDC Las Vegas, which used to consistently sell out before their lineups even dropped, aren’t doing the same numbers they used to. Every raver I know, myself included, has a dozen friends who’ve never been to see a DJ perform outside of a club environment — imagine if we were all turned into sub-promoters! And Ticket Fairy has beefy metrics from their five-year history, primarily from international festivals in Europe and Australia where Ritesh used to throw events. The metrics prove that organic fan promotion generated by the potential for a full or partial refund is far more effective than traditional marketing spends. Can you believe people are still handing flyers out in front of clubs in 2018? I’m confident those days are almost over.
And music tech, a space which has been in and out of fashion amongst the tech investment community the last two decades, had a major comeback at the end of 2017 with the announcement of Google Ventures pouring $70 million into United Masters. It’s a platform I still can’t figure out six months later, but I can’t help but feel like that sudden movement is thanks in part to Ticket Fairy’s cutting-edge portfolio of backers that includes two of Twitch’s co-founders, Reddit’s CEO, and Arielle Zuckerberg. “Most VCs, even if they love music, don’t understand the underlying problems of the industry,” Jigar explains, “If we go to them and say ‘we’re mitigating promoter risk’ they’re apt to say, ‘what risk? The festival market is booming.’ But they don’t realize most sold-out festivals probably bled money for years before they became successful, and as the market becomes more saturated, the financial risk to promoters becomes greater and greater.”
The second major value proposition of the platform, and my personal favorite aspect of the company, is their backend ability to target ads on every major social media platform based on the customer’s specific interests. The best example I can give is the New Found Glory show I missed in Los Angeles last summer; they’re one of my favorite bands from high school and their songs get rinsed at the infamous Emo Nite parties every month. I didn’t know that show was happening last July because it’s an impossible task to keep track of all the artists you truly love and would pay to see in concert. If they knew that once a month, usually the week of Emo Nite, I’m playing 40 of their songs, they could easily target an ad to me Cambridge Analytica-style, but not evil, and I’d have bought tickets to their concert in a heartbeat.
And I found out after I’d already missed the show that didn’t even sell out! Artist, promoter, and fan all lost on that deal, and I’m still mad about it, so hell yeah I’m rooting for a platform that gives my artists the information they need to be able to keep me in the loop. The fact that my ticket could’ve been half price because heck yes I have at least five friends who would want to come with me, is just gravy. If I even say the word “vitamins” anywhere near my computer or phone I’ll start getting ads for vitamins serviced back to me on Google, YouTube, and Facebook. I already take vitamins, y’all! If we’re going to live in a future this creepy and maniacally capitalistic, I’d appreciate being sold shit I actually want to buy instead of feeling consistently overwhelmed with stuff I don’t want at the expense of being able to keep up with the culture I truly care about.
“The platform has evolved over the last couple years more towards what we always wanted it to be, which is a full technology stack to run an entire events business on. We were never planning on being just ticketing or just referral marketing or just a data and analytics platform,” Ritesh said. “We can unlock untapped revenue across the entire events space in a way where it’s actually going to accelerate the growth of a promoter, festival, or venue. The last couple years have really been about building out more and more of those tools and making sure that automation of the platform can save several hours a day of manual work, and we’ve been edging closer and closer to the equivalent of what SalesForce is for large corporations. Now a promoter doesn’t need a member of the team to set up sales and campaigns on different platforms, extract the right data and figure out how to use it. Now everything can be managed essentially by one person in a single dashboard.”
The final Ticket Fairy value prop I want to bring up is the ability to utilize customer data to curate lineups, vendors, and sponsors fans will be most excited about. Because they’re scraping APIs from streaming and social platforms linked to your Facebook account, a promoter can look at granular data to see what their fans love. I’m not a promoter, but I’ve got to imagine that when it comes to soliciting sponsorship, say, for a festival, it’s a lot easier to go to Ray-Ban, for example, point to your customer data and say, “You’re the number one sunglasses company our attendees engage with, it would make a lot of sense for you to sponsor our festival.”
To round out this story, I put in a call to the woman who first told me about The Ticket Fairy: Tiffany Yu, a marketing expert formerly of 360 Group and now of WeTransfer who also consults for and invests in music start-ups. I asked her why they’re poised to succeed over every other ticketing company they’re up against. “Number one, Twitch; having an understanding of that space and being able to serve it. They started working with TwitchCon in their second year and Twitch is obviously huge in gaming and huge in data, and now Ticket Fairy knows which gamers would actually leave their house and what shows they want to go to! Of course, that’s true for all fans but no one else has cracked the gaming space yet, that’s their biggest leg up in the US.” Wow, great answer Tiffany Yu – and there you have it, folks.
Digital distribution of music was successfully disrupted and now artists don’t actually need a label anymore, but ticketing is still a bunch of different companies offering essentially the same service; I believe it’s ripe to be dismantled to make way for more independent artists and promoters. Personally, I’m just trying to back the ticketing-horse that ensures I never miss New Found Glory in concert ever again, and to me it makes sense that the next technological revolution in the ticketing space would have a built-in mechanism for meaningfully using consumer data profiles to effectively communicate to buyers more of what we want and distill out what’s not relevant to us.
Embark on your evolved ticketing/promoting experience at TheTicketFairy.com.