This week WillCall, developer of a concert discovery app of the same name, launched a new service for venues to make more money. Called BarTab, the app is a part of the WillCall platform and is targeted specifically at concert venues. San Francisco-based WillCall has received investments from a handful of well-known names in music and technology.
Music technology startups tend to pass over the live music experience to focus on downloading, streaming and discovery. There are some exceptions. A handful of startups focused on facilitating concert discovery and ticket purchasing, and one of those companies has expanded to the music venue. Ticketing startups provide services for venues. But of the 33 early-stage investments in music startups tracked by Billboard last year, only WillCall actually targets music venues.
Since a venue gets the majority of its revenue from the bar, WillCall saw an opening to create tools that help the venue maximize bar revenue. BarTab is meant to reduce the friction involved in customer transactions at music venues and streamline operations. These tools were "the most obvious place for us to start" because it's where venues make the most money, WillCall head of business development Ryan O'Connor tells Billboard. BarTab also includes an artist tipping function so attendees can give additional money to the artist.
Some familiar names are backing BarTab. Parent company WillCall has received investments from Universal Music Group, Sean Parker and Coran Capshaw. Other investors are angel investment firm SV Angel, Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia and Garrett Camp, founder of Uber and StumbleUpon.
O'Connor explains how a venue would use BarTab to increase revenue from the bar. The venue's iPad will connect via Bluetooth Low Energy to the WillCall app on consumers' phone. The BarTab app will be activated at points of transaction: walking in the door, walking up to the bar to an open tab, buying drinks and buying merchandise. Because there would be no need for ID or cash, customers will spend more freely. The app saves the venue money because employees save time processing transactions and closing out tabs at the end of the show.
An additional benefit to the venue is all the data collected on customers. "Venue owners don't really know who their customers are," O'Connor says. "BarTab allows venues to understand who walks in, how much they buy and what friends enter the venue together."