Since the launch of the program on Sept. 1, more than 41,000 fans of British artist Jacob Collier have signed up for a flexible touring plan to see the musician once he’s able to perform live again. The 41,000 fans are in addition to the more than 30,000 that held tickets for Collier’s postponed 2020 dates.
The ticketing tool was created by technology platform Lyte, which has worked with major live events including Coachella, BottleRock, Electric Forest, Life is Beautiful and more. For Collier, Lyte allowed fans to reserve tickets for more than 90 concerts and enter their payment information for pending shows in their area. The fans can cancel their reservation at any time including once the date, venue and time of the show in their area is announced.
In the time of COVID-cancellations, Collier says the flexibility of the touring plan is what appealed most to him in his conversations with Lyte. “I care quite a lot about what the experience for the fan is and I don’t want to make promises and then let them down. The amazing thing for me about this is that fans essentially join waiting lists completely risk free,” says Collier.
Collier released his latest studio album Djesse Vol. 3 in August and, if not for the pandemic, would have been embarking on the second leg of his tour to promote the album. Instead the artist has been appearing on late night shows and performing Tiny Desk concerts from home. Announcing the flexible touring plan has given Collier a way to capitalize on his fans’ current engagement with the new album without having to provide dates that will remain up in the air due to the pandemic.
“It is really energizing for both the fans and for me to feel like there is something to live for,” Collier tells Billboard, adding that the technology also helps his agents at UTA who have also suffered from a lack of touring 2020. For his agents, “It’s exciting to continue conversations and it is quite motivational.”
The technology not only eliminates a lot of risk for fans, but also other players in the touring ecosystem. For agents, promoters and tickets, the waiting list will give them a sense of demand in each city which will then help them determine venue size, marketing strategies and practically guarantee a certain amount of tickets.
“Historically, artists go to a touring agency and plan a tour using data that can be somewhat insightful, but also a bit of a crapshoot. Then you start taking orders from fans,” says Lyte founder and CEO Ant Taylor. “By turning it on its head and saying, ‘My fans are willing to sort of vote with their credit cards before you do any of that,’ is super powerful and can inform more efficient tours.”
According to Lyte, the technology will greatly benefit emerging artists who have varying followings in different regions but would also work well for established artists who are practically guaranteed sell-outs on arena tours.
“For a high-demand arena type tour, you can imagine a scenario where the problem they are trying to address is how unfair or unpleasant the bum rush to the onsale is,” says Lyte chief revenue officer Lawrence Peryer. “This is a way to provide a more orderly, more equitable access to tickets.”
Instead of fighting off robots, ticket brokers and system crashes for 10am onsales, fans could sign up ahead of time through Lyte’s program. They would have the opportunity to select how many tickets they wanted, the price range and simply confirm when their tickets are available.
Even for established artists, “the reality is you face plenty of uncertainty around what the condition of the market is going to be because of COVID,” says Taylor. “Especially for next year when there are so many holds on rooms, it’s very difficult to know and get a date. All we’re saying is that shouldn’t stop you from moving forward, from starting to build that relationship with fans.”