Business

VenuePilot Returning All Ticketing Fees to Venues Through 2021

Justin Kantor
Lori Ordover

Justin Kantor

The past 15 months have been a nightmare for independent venue owners and few know that better than founding National Independent Venue Association founding member Justin Kantor and Neumos co-owner Steven Severin. The two have fought tooth and nail to get the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant passed and understand that independent venues are still trying to get their footing as live shows return. With grants finally rolling out to independent venues, the two are turning their focus back to venue management and ticketing platform, VenuePilot.  

VenuePilot was created by Kantor – who also founded New York City venue (Le) Poisson Rouge – nearly a decade ago as he perfected the software to make something he “thought would be really valuable to the industry.” The platform allows venue operators to forecast ticket sales, generate settlement sheets, place unlimited holds for events on a specialized calendar and can serve as a venue’s primary ticket. The program is free to use for all venues with VenuePilot earning revenue of $0.75 per ticket sold. Until 2022, Kantor says all those ticketing fees are going back to the venue owners.  

“That’s to make sure venue operators can get back on their feet this year,” says Kantor. “I was able to build VenuePilot over an extended period of time and in a way where the company can survive quite well without making any revenue for the rest of this year.” 

Ticket sales can be customized through VenuePilot with discount codes and pre-sales and the system was designed for venue owners by venue owners. So far VenuePilot has been adopted by venues like The Wild Buffalo in Washington and The Bitter End in New York, and boasts Wasserman Music's Tom Windish as an early investor and strategic advisor. The platform automatically generate contracts, artist settlement sheets and integrates with other applications frequently used by venue operators.  

“It’s surprisingly so much harder than you would think to just figure out on any given night how much money was made or lost. Coordinating with the team and all the different bar sales and tickets and everything, it’s challenging,” Kantor tells Billboard, adding, “Really early on I realized how much value there would be in having our own ticketing platform and to not have to work with Ticketmaster and the likes. [Venue owners] could have more control at a nuanced level of our ticketing. Put those two things together and you have a real product that can offer a lot more than what is out there.” 

VenuePilot’s relaunch also comes as many independent venues are receiving their share of the $16 billion in Shuttered Venue Operator Grant funds. Those awards funds are required to maintain detailed reporting of how they used the funds for three years, which Severin says VenuePilot can handle with ease.  

The technology works for venues, promoters, and festivals. Early adopters include New York’s Winter Jazz Festival and Mean Red Productions based in Detroit and New York. As live music returns across the country after a year without shows and companies begin to hire new staff, Severin - who serves as a strategic partner for the company - believes VenuePilot is a smart and easy way to get back to work.  

Roy Atizado
Steven Severin

“If there's anything that we learned at this f--king pandemic it’s that we don't need to do things the way we did them anymore. This is the time to change everything,” he says of old ticketing contracts and using random spreadsheets to sort out finances. “As a business owner who's owned businesses for 20 years, I wouldn't have thought about having those type of reports. VenuePilot can be really straightforward or it could be really complicated, which makes it so that all these different people to use it.” 

VenuePilot does not rely on corralling users into contracts and allows industry professionals to use the platform for free. The company does plan to roll out a more robust paid tier, but all technology currently available will remain free.