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Thrillcall: A Groupon For Live Music

ThrillcallGuest post by Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.

Most of the time, the decision to see live music takes place weeks or even months in advance. You know the routine: Talk to your friends to see who else is going, somebody throws down a credit card, and then you put the show on your calendars.

Thrillcall, which released an iOS app on Wednesday, flips that process in that the whole point is to find out about shows at the last minute. For starters, it includes the same sort of show listings available elsewhere on BandsinTown and Songkick, with a new twist: the mobile version only shows you which concerts are happening in your town that night. That’s the “Tonight’s Music” tab in the app, pictured to the left.

That’s not an incredibly original idea, though it is useful if you suddenly find yourself with a free evening. The more original aspect of Thrillcall is a GroupOn-like feature that purportedly lets you score deals on tickets.

Here’s how it works: If a venue, promoter, or band decides that they’d rather sell out a venue than leave it half empty, they can offer deals through Thrillcall designed to attract last-minute deal-seekers looking for a bargain. Fans can buy tickets from within the app, as well as getting directions to the venue.

It’s a neat idea, but there’s one big problem: As of today, there’s only one exclusive. If you’re in San Francisco — one of only two cities where the Exclusive feature is live so far (the other is Los Angeles) — you can enter a contest to win Flaming Lips tickets. That’s it. One offer. In the entire app.

That said, this is only day one. Thrillcall clearly addresses a big problem in live music: how to fill up shows that have yet to sell out. In fact, Ticketmaster told me this was one reason it wanted to buy Live Nation — to help fill empty seats when shows don’t sell out. When Ticketmaster is worried about something, you know it’s a big problem.

If Thrillcall succeeds in making deals with venues outside of San Francisco and Los Angeles (it currently plans to expand the Exclusive feature to New York and Austin), it could get big quickly. If music fans like anything, it’s the chance to get something for free — or, failing that, on the cheap.

Meanwhile, venues would rather get something for those unsold tickets rather than just leaving them in the box office — not to mention the fact that people buy beer and T-shirts when they go to shows, and they can’t do that if they’re not there.

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