From the “value gap” in online music consumption to the continual interference of brokers in concert sales, both YouTube and Ticketmaster have upheld tenuous relationships with the artist community over the last several years. To mitigate tension, both companies have been developing artist-focused campaigns of their own -- from YouTube guiding artists to monetization on its Artist Resources page, to Ticketmaster promising to put tickets only into the hands of the most deserving fans through its contested Verified Fan program.
Now, the two behemoths are joining forces to list upcoming concerts on music videos, with the hopes of empowering artists to better manage their business across multiple revenue streams. For now, the new feature is available only to artists of a certain career stature and geographic trajectory: those with official YouTube music videos (many of whom are on Vevo) who have upcoming gigs in the U.S. In a blog post yesterday (Nov. 14), YouTube stated that they will be expanding this feature in the coming months first to all of North America, then globally.
While this marks YouTube’s first ticketing partnership, the video service is far from new to bridging the gap between online and live music experiences. Festivals from Coachella to Global Citizen have hosted live-streams on YouTube for years. Through the Verified Fan campaign for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour, the singer’s fans could earn higher priority on the waiting list for tickets by watching more of her YouTube videos.
Nor is Ticketmaster new to distributing its sales across multiple channels, the most successful of which have been Bandsintown, Facebook and Spotify. Unlike with Bandsintown and Facebook, however, the ticketing company’s integration with YouTube isn’t native, in the sense that fans will be redirected to Ticketmaster’s own website in order to complete the purchase rather than staying on YouTube. Moreover, the integration will only appear on official videos, and not on other user-generated videos that might be tagged with Content ID. A YouTube rep tells Billboard that the integration UX will be fully owned by YouTube, but the company is working on more artist controls to be launched in the future.
It’s worth thinking about what types of artists will benefit most from this partnership. While YouTube has massive traffic -- its users watch over one billion hours of video every single day -- the quality and engagement levels behind those views might not be so straightforward. Spotify’s integration with Ticketmaster works well because the former has the technical capabilities to segment the top 5% of fans and market presale tickets to them, with far above-average click-through rates. Bandsintown has a similar sell in highly-targeted event discovery, while Facebook’s main value is its scale.
While YouTube also has impressive scale, its integration with Ticketmaster will likely be most effective for YouTube-first creators, i.e. those whose fans go to the video service before any other platform to engage with their content. Interestingly, that segment of artists includes several non-music personalities -- for instance, comedians like Markiplier -- who are already selling tickets on Ticketmaster. YouTube declined to comment on whether its ticketing ambitions will expand into comedy, theater, sports or other verticals beyond its initial music roster.
When asked whether YouTube has integrations with other ticketing companies in the roadmap, a YouTube rep simply restated the concluding sentence of the company’s blog post: “As part of our ongoing commitment to support artists, we’ll continue to find additional ways to make meaningful fan and artist connections.” Considering that Ticketmaster was Spotify’s singular ticketing partner for seven months before the latter announced additional integrations with AXS and Eventbrite, YouTube may have to follow a similar path in order to stay competitive as both a consumer-facing and artist-facing utility.