Are you fed up with the antics of the big-time concert industry? The continually rising prices? The huge service charges? (Not that this is entirely the fault of the ticket sellers--a percentage is usually kicked back to the artist.) The quick "sell-outs" of all decent seats, followed by the mysterious appearance of marked-up tickets on scalper sites?
Then here's some good news. In June, The Pixies teamed up with digital-music marketing agency Topspin Media to perform an interesting experiment in London. The Pixies--who didn't have an e-mail list before they started working with Topspin--sent an e-mail message to their fans advertising two upcoming gigs at a venue called The Troxy. All tickets cost the same--30 pounds--and were available from a special one-time Web site. At the venue, fans presented their printed tickets, and staffers scanned the barcodes on those tickets using their iPhones.
Here's the brilliant thing: the show had no promoter and no ticket broker. No service fees, no big markups. Topspin explains the details in a blog entry and video posted Thursday morning.
Concert promoter and venue owner Live Nation, which bought Ticketmaster in 2009, is already having enough problems this year--ticket sales are down, and the company recently received some well-deserved scorn for implying to investors that future acts would be able to go from first recording to sold-out concerts in a matter of months rather than years. (I know a lot of bands who could use some of that magic formula, please!)
Direct-to-fan ticketing isn't going to take over right away: artists planning massive stadium tours will probably still need to use a ticket broker like Ticketmaster to serve large numbers of customers quickly, and Live Nation does a lot of marketing to build demand. But in five years, I wouldn't be surprised if most touring artists are using platforms like Topspin's to sell their tickets directly to fans, no middlemen required.