Upstart ticketing and music discovery firm Songkick has raised $15 Million in a new round of funding by Len Blavatnik's Access Industries, Billboard has learned.
Additionally, Songkick announces today an expansion of its West Coast operation, and the hiring of new vp of product, Lydia Goldberg; and a new vp of design, Lee Martin.
Since merging with CrowdSurge in 2015, Songkick quickly made a name for itself as technological ticketing tool that not only promotes artist discovery but also aids ticket sales and works to reduce the number of tickets sold to scalpers. Songkick garnered much attention late last year around the huge demand for fan club pre-sale tickets on Adele's 2016 tour; other clients include Metallica, J. Cole, Mumford and Sons, Pixies, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Paul McCartney.
The $15 million capital infusion will be used "in a few ways," according to CEO Matt Jones. "We'll be growing our technology team to continue to deliver a better overall live experience for fans and artists," Jones tells Billboard. "We'll be expanding our concert discovery innovations, and connecting more fans to concerts in new, engaging ways. We'll also be introducing the next iteration of our discovery platform integrations, working with more artists, and continuing to deliver our anti-scalping technology. We're working to ensure that every artist we work with has the tools to get more tickets into the hands of their dedicated fans."
Songkick's self-described status as a "pioneering technology partner to artists, helping them retain control of their ticket sales and connect them with their global fan bases," has for the most part, been warmly received in the artist community, but the road has not always been smooth. Last December, Songkick filed suit against Live Nation and Ticketmaster, the world's largest concert promotions and ticketing companies, respectively, for antitrust violations, anti-competitive behavior, and intentional interference. The suit is still making its way through the courts.
While Songkick is certainly not the first direct-to-fan ticketing operation (the practice dates back to the Grateful Dead in the 1970s and exploded in the Internet age with Coran Capshaw's Music Today and in-house operations from bands like String Cheese Incident), Songkick sets itself apart through its focus on blocking resellers out of the equation. In an era where automated bots squeeze fans out by purchasing thousands of choice tickets to the point that legislators are starting to step in, Jones says his company's technology reduces scalping, which gives fans a better chance at tickets.
"The biggest myth in live music is that ticket scalping is somehow impossible to prevent," says Jones, "but with the right focus and the right tools, these issues can be solved, and Songkick is at the leading edge of solving them."
Since its merger with Crowdsurge last year, Songkick has expanded its artist ticketing and discovery businesses, now ticketing in more than 60 countries and reaching more than 12 million fans every month. Perhaps most meaningfully, Songkick has integrated its discovery platform with leading media and streaming services including Spotify, Pandora, MTV, CMT and Soundcloud, with more partnerships to be announced in the coming months. "These are all great partners that are currently utilizing our discovery platform to surface relevant concerts to their users," says Jones. "Awareness is a constant and widespread problem in live music, and so our first priority is to address that problem with our partners."
Songkick has also recently bolstered its leadership ranks across several offices. Martin, who has worked on revolutionary digital marketing campaigns for such bands as Foo Fighters, Little Dragon, Carly Rae Jepsen, Slipknot and Cut Copy, will now manage the company's visual design team as its new vp of design, based in New York. Goldberg, formerly product director for U.K. property website Zoopla, joins Songkick as its new vp of product, based in London. While at Zoopla, Goldberg built the company's product function from the ground up, oversaw the launch of innovative search-related products, and led the integration of multiple digital products into a single, seamless platform.
At Songkick, Goldberg will be, "finding bigger, more engaged, audiences for event announcements, for ticket on-sales, and for concerts themselves," Jones explains. "For the many concerts that suffer from limited awareness, this means making sure more fans hear about the show. For popular events, it means doing everything we can to make sure that fans -- not scalpers -- are able to buy tickets at face value and attend the shows they care so much about."
Nick Fishbaugh, previously senior director of global music partnerships for Shazam, recently joined Songkick's business development team in Los Angeles, expanding its West Coast presence. Fishbaugh reports to Stephen Glicken, who was recently promoted to vp of business development for the company and will be responsible for expanding Songkick's reach and partnerships with artists on a global scale.
With corporate offices in New York, London and Moscow, Access Industries holdings include companies in the Natural Resources and Chemicals, Media and Telecommunications, Technology and E-commerce, and Real Estate sectors. The company's holdings in the media space range from wireless communications and production services to broadcast media and entertainment licensing ventures and include Warner Music Group, Deezer, Perform, Acision, and R.G.E. Group Ltd, among others.
The continued backing of Blavatnik and Access, which invested a reported $16 million into the venture as CrowdSurge and Songkick merged, marks a significant vote of confidence in Songkick's model. "We're proud of the work that we've done to date, and having the support of our investors to continue to revolutionize ticket distribution and discovery has been incredible," Jones says. "Access Industries has been a committed and valuable partner for Songkick over the years, and we are excited to expand our partnership through this investment."