-- Ray Waddell's series of interviews with Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff on Billboard.biz this week provide a great example of the different approaches being taken in the ticketing world (read parts one, two and three).
One of the most interesting topics brought up in the interview (in part two) is the different strategies being taken by Ticketmaster and many of its competitors. Ticketmaster - and to a lesser degree Live Nation - has a great deal of brand identity and brand equity. Ticketmaster.com is a well known destination for tickets to concerts and other live events. It has many detractors and gets a lot of complaints.
As Azoff explained, Ticketmaster wants to be a destination unto itself, a place where consumers can visit for a variety of goods and services. "History shows fans want consolidation, you see it across the web every place," he told Waddell. "The big players are people like Google, Amazon, eBay, Facebook. The great thing about Ticketmaster is that it's seen as the comprehensive site for ticketing, artist information, venue information. We're a marketing platform, not just a technology platform, and we're going to build on it."
The competing strategy says that each venue should be its own brand and its own ticketing destination. And there is a host of ticketing companies that offer ticketing software and services that allow the seller to put the ticketing function in-house. A venue website, for example, can sell the tickets, host artist information, capture email address for future marketing opportunities and integrate social networking functions.
But Azoff, for one, doesn't see the value in white-label ticketing services such as the one being planned by Outbox and AEG. "I don't see how (Outbox) separate themselves from the myriad of competitors that we already have," said Azoff. "How are they different from Paciolan or Veritix, Tickets.com, Ticketfly or any of those sites?"
Is the venue-as-brand strategy better? If you're selling a white label ticketing service, of course you're going to argue it's the better strategy. But if your strategy is to become an e-commerce brand - and not just an e-commerce facilitator - you're going to argue against the venue-as-brand strategy.
Both sides can make good arguments. Ticketmaster is quite rational when it says that venues could be well served by tapping into its broad ecommerce capabilities. After all, many companies have succeeded by unifying ecommerce verticals under one roof. Competitors are quite rational when they argue that venues should better own the relationships with their customers. And they have the added selling point of not being a competing promoter.
In the end, the answer might be the same answer often given by economists: it depends. That's not a nice, tight answer, but whether or not a particular strategy fits for a venue or promoter can depend on a variety of factors. Ticketmaster's belief in its strategy will shape the ticketing market in the years to come, however, and will provide great competition between rival companies.
-- Hardly a day goes by without a mention of Spotify, so here's the item that will meet today's quota: the INQ Cloud Touch and Cloud Q, available in the U.S. in April, is a low-cost Android phone that will come with Spotify pre-installed. Now, the phone does not come with a paid subscription to Spotify. That would be extra. But Spotify does replace the mediocre Android music player. Unlike applications for some other cloud-based music services, Spotify can play locally stored music files. INQ has even added a dedicated Spotify key that will launch the application.
INQ build the Cloud phones for heavy Facebook users and tightly integrated the social network into its home screen and overall user interface. So while a music service makes for a nice feature, the real impetus behind this phone is social networking. ( CNET UK)
-- Since YouTube is - by far - the most popular music streaming site on the Internet, it's good news that it has partnered with RightsFlow for music rights management. In short, RightsFlow will help YouTube with the complex processes involved with rights administration and royalty payments to songwriters and publishers. "Our agile technology platform and skilled staff enable us to effectively manage the accelerating traffic flow through YouTube's intersection of content and commerce," RightsFlow CEO Patrick Sullivan said in a statement. ( Press release)
-- Is there life beyond YouTube? Maybe it's live streaming. Matt Howe, Manager of Business Development and Music Content at Ustream, talk about how some big acts are using the service to draw big audiences. UStream is a site that allows users to broadcast live video streams.
"I'd say Kiss is one of the most active artists in our platform in terms of streaming concerts and doing press releases and announcing dates, etc. They use the platform very well, and their management team works with us very closely…They get it, and when they can, and when the production is available, they use us very well. I think they still are responsible for our biggest music event to date. They streamed a concert with us from the Staple Center late 2009, and that got us two million streams live, which was pretty insane. That still stands as our biggest broadcast to date. Bon Jovi is another band that has used us a lot, and has used us to good effect…We've streamed quite a few concerts with the band, including one from Dallas in April, 2010, which got 1.5 million live streams and over a million uniques, which is again pretty huge." ( Musician Coaching)