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Bartab-in-actionWillCall has grown from a concert discovery app to add ticketing and merch sales plus special offers. Now they're adding WillCall Venue, a new app for venues initially featuring BarTab for drink sales to customers with WillCall apps. WillCall Venue begins to build out what WillCall describes as the "very first unified transaction layer for live music" which is taking shape as a platform connecting a suite of apps each designed for different roles in live music commerce.

WillCall launched with a focus on concert discovery for music fans and has gradually been developing their service into something more all-encompassing. As a company statement put it:

"We’ve spent a lot of time in music venues over the past 18 months, and we’ve learned an awful lot. In addition to a very pronounced need for technology solutions at the bar and box office, we also learned that there’s a consistent lack of data available about live music patrons."

"While tech companies can rely on services like MixPanel and Google Analytics to for insights, there’s simply no way to capture data on customer actions in a live music forum. That’s what we’re working toward with the pairing of smart tools on the venue and consumer sides — an end-to-end solution for the entire live music experience that can also surface real, useful data on audiences."

With recent funding that puts their total raised at over $2 million, WillCall is taking the next step in building the "very first unified transaction layer for live music." The announcement of their WillCall Venue app featuring BarTab and an invitation to their WillCall Venue Pilot Program in San Francisco and New York teases the product:

"Credit card fees, bar minimums, cash-only policies, and extremely long lines — buying a drink at a concert can by pretty frustrating. We think it should be easier. That’s why the first feature of WillCall Venue is designed to reduce friction at the bar. Put simply, BarTab makes it ridiculously easy for customers to buy drinks at a concert with their WillCall accounts."

Josh Constine at TechCrunch explains how BarTab actually works:

"You install WillCall’s concert ticket app and go to a venue running BarTab. It doesn’t matter if you bought your tickets through WillCall or not. As you approach the bar, its BarTab-equipped iPad pings your WillCall app over Bluetooth Low Energy, and you confirm the prompt that you want to open a tab. In case Bluetooth LE fails or you don’t have it running on your phone, you can show the bartender your ID and they can find you in their BarTab app to start your tab."

"Then you order drinks from the bartender as normal but when it’s time to pay, you just say your name. They pull you up from the list of nearby BarTab users, and charge your WillCall-connected credit card. You receive a push notification that you’ve been charged that also lets you tip, and you get back to partying. Your tab is automatically closed when the show ends and you get emailed an itemized receipt."

Constine describes his testrun at a recent concert as "breezy."

According to K. Tighe, WillCall's Chief Communications Officer, WillCall is providing venue pilot partners with the necessary hardware (shown above) in addition to WillCall's apps.

The larger move towards a more all-encompassing service is important. As Gordon Weiss, an early adopter via San Francisco's Vessel, stated:

"There are apps to do everything--book tables, skip the line, pay at the bar--but they're always one-dimensional...WillCall's benefit is that they're doing everything holistically."


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is building a writing hub at Flux Research. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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