Concert discovery and ticket sales go together like peanut butter and jelly -- at least for Americans. The 50/50 merger of Songkick and Crowdsurge, announced Thursday, should make finding and buying concert tickets much easier.
Songkick, the name of the merged company, also announced $16 million in new funding from Access Industries and existing investors Index Ventures and Sequoia Capital. Access Industries is the owner of Warner Music Group and has invested in music subscription services Deezer and Beats Music, which was acquired by Apple last year.
In a conversation with Billboard, Songkick CEO Ian Hogarth and Crowdsurge CEO Matt Jones said the merger was the culmination of a five-year-old friendship and mutual admiration for the other's company. "I think there's so much value in what Songkick offers to the artist community," Jones says. "It makes a hell of a lot of sense."
Both companies try to prevent fans from missing their favorite artists' concerts. Songkick is an online repository for concert dates that allows music fans track their favorite artists' shows and buy tickets to the events. Crowdsurge is a white-label service used by more than 500 artists to sell tickets directly to fans. Songkick provides the link to fans. Crowdsurge links fans to tickets.
Hogarth says tests have shown the combination results in more ticket sales. By integrating Crowdsurge into the app, Songkick sold more tickets than by sending fans to an external ticketing site. "We've tested in the U.K. to help shows. We're able to sell as much as 50 percent of some major venues like Brixton Academy."
The number of tickets Songkick can sell will vary by country. Crowdsurge sells artists' allocation of tickets. Allocations are high in the United Kingdom, where the ticketing market is more open, but lower in the United States, where venues' exclusive contacts with ticketing companies usually keep artists' allocations between 8 and 10 percent of total tickets.
Richard Jones has used Crowdsurge to sell tickets for two of hits clients, Pixies and Mew. Jones says Crowdsurge allows the bands to reduce fees and let artists bundle tickets with items like music and merchandise. He likes the splash pages Crowdsurge builds for ticket on-sales. "They take away the heavy lifting, because it is very heavy lifting."
Going direct also allows his artists to "get the tickets in the hands of the right people for a reasonable price" and circumvent scalpers and secondary ticketing services, says Jones. Secondary ticketing services are prominent in the United States, where Ticketmaster and StubHub dominate, and the United Kingdom, where Viagogo is popular, but less prevalent elsewhere.
Both Songkick and Crowdsurge are based in the United Kingdom. Hogarth and Jones say the companies will merge their offices in London. Crowdsurge also has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville.