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 contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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