AEG and Outbox Enterprises have formed a joint venture with C3 Presents to purchase Austin, Texas-based Front Gate Tickets whereby they will jointly own the ticketing company and together develop ticketing solutions primarily targeted toward the festival business. The company was purchased from three partners: Front Gate partners Mellie Price, Jeff Waughtal and Charles Attal, the latter of whom is also a partner in C3.
Front Gate Tickets specializes in providing innovative global ticketing solutions to music events and festivals including the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and Stagecoach Country Music Festival, both owned and operated by AEG's Goldenvoice, as well as C3 Presents properties such as the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Lollapalooza.
Maura Gibson, formerly C3's Director of Ticketing, will oversee Front Gate going forward with the title of Front Gate president.
Front Gate is, "a perfect compliment to our axs Ticketing company," Bryan Perez, president of Digital, Ticketing and Media for AEG, tells Billboard.biz. The fit also works in regard to both firms' presence in the ticketing world of festivals. "When you look at what C3 and Goldenvoice have done, they're always pushing to just improve the experience and make it the memory of a lifetime," says Perez. "Both of our organizations get up every day thinking about how we can make this the best possible experience for the fan, and where there is an opportunity for us to use the ticketing platform to continue that philosophy."
Adds C3 partner Charlie Walker, "I think the AEG promoters want the same things [C3 partners] Charles [Attal], and Charlie [Jones] and I want for our customers, which is to keep developing software that improves customer service. It's easier to do that when we have a lot of similar properties that are aligned."
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The Front Gate Tickets brand will be retained, and Front Gate will remain active in ticketing for music clubs, theatres and artist ticketing while AEG's axs Ticketing will continue to support the arena and stadium market segment, including AEG's network of facilities. "I don't think anything from the customer side as to what you see branding-wise is going to change anywhere for any of us," says Walker.
Given the multiple price points and variety of options such as camping and VIP, as well as the immersive aspects of festivals that make food and beverage and merchandise bundles a natural and the development of RFID wristband technology, festivals are a prime target for innovation and specific solutions.
"There are just aspects about the festival experience and festival production that are totally unique," says Perez. "Now that the company is backed by two of the biggest festival producers in the U.S., there will be a lot of innovation that comes out of it because you just solve your own problems. If there's one thing these two entities are known for, it's a great on-site experience, so it's that kind of creative thinking applied to a ticketing system that can take us into new ground."
Front Gate already tickets festivals affiliated with neither company, such as Hangout in Mobile, Ala., Counterpoint in Atlanta, Electric Forest in Rothbury, Mich., and the Telluride Blues and Brews festival, and the company will be pursuing business as a stand-alone ticketing company, "starting today," says Perez.
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That would include international opportunities, as AEG produces events globally, and C3 Presents is involved in projects in Australia and South America. "It's baby steps. We just closed the deal yesterday, and we'll start working on really sharpening our domestic business, but at the same time, there are other opportunities internationally in the festival business that we'll be pursuing," says Walker. "First and foremost, it's a ticketing company and I'm really thrilled we're able to do a bunch of R&D between us. If you look at the festivals and focus on the festivals, what Front Gate develops for Coachella also benefits Lollapalooza, and also would benefit Hangout and other Front Gate clients. We absolutely will try to maintain our third party clients that aren't related to AEG or C3, and expand them."