Irving Azoff Is Looking In The Wrong Place For A New Business Model

COMMENTARY: There has been a lot of speculation about the newly combined Ticketmaster and music management giant Front Line. The only thing that we know for sure is that its not just about selling tickets anymore. CEO Irving Azoff told Billboard:

"The biggest misconception about this deal is that Ticketmaster in the future will be what it was in the past. The new name of the company is Ticketmaster Entertainment, and it’s a platform for us to build a lot of other things. The fortunes of this company aren’t going to rise and fall just on the ticketing business. We’re going to build the ability for people to distribute their music."

I hate to tell you this Irving, but "people" already have the ability to distribute their music. It’s called iTunes and Amazon and Napster and…. The question really is whether or not fans want to buy downloads where they buy tickets.  My gut says its a great up-sell ("Sure, I"ll grab the new album while I buy my tickets), but that’s about it.

Ticketmaster is a place to buy tickets and not music destination. With all the competition and fragmentation in the ticketing business, you”ll never make it one. So instead of trying to use the Eagles< Chrisina and Axl to drive fans to Ticketmaster.com, you should be providing technology so they can sell tickets and downloads on their own artist sites.  And while your at it, be sure to share the data you collected. The fans are theirs and not Ticketmaster’s anyway.

Irving, you’ve been telling us all along that its all about the artist, and you proved it brilliantly with Front Line. Don’t forget that now that you’re swimming in a bigger pond.

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  1. hey bruce, can’t say I completely agree with you on this one. music + interactive social media + control of seats = new ways to build fan to fan relationships, and this will also equate to one of the most interesting ways to create tiered incentive programs (best fans = best seats).. Ticketmaster and LiveNation are two companies that could pull this off…

  2. Thanks, for your comment Bruce, but to me Ticketmaster (or to an only slightly lesser degree Live Nation) trying to build a definitive music destination is like Sony trying to build its own download site. They have to try, but I believe that fans want either a) a full service destination with everything like imeem or MySpace Music are trying to be (including links to buy tickets) or 2)they want a direct connection to the artist.

  3. I’m with Mr Warila. This isn’t about a music destination, this is about leveraging direct to fan channels. Between Ticketmaster, Echo and Front Line they have massive insights into fan behavior as well as the tools and fan databases to cross sell, up sell, grow and leverage any way they want.

  4. Yes, this is a pretty standard defin. of direct to fan distribution. Yes, a user buying tickets to Coldplay is probably interested also in buying music from Coldplay. I think it stops there.
    My gut tells me that most people will be REMINDED that they might want a certain song/album from that artist, but whether or not they will actually be moved to take action and take money out of their pocket is harder to prove. Where is the advantage?
    Show goers are already passionate music buyers/downloaders. They likely already have the music they want and have their preferred method of buying it. I don’t think the upsell is a strong enough business model to justify straying from Ticketmaster’s core comp – selling tickets.
    I might be more convinced if Ticketmaster starts selling exclusive content that is more relevant to live shows. How about exclusive live tracks form the artist to get you psyched about the show? Or videos? etc.
    I strongly believe that whatever Ticketmaster tries to upsell should directly enhance and provide more value to their main product.
    In fact, I think I’ll blog about it right now.

  5. You have to think about selling things that are beyond what people sell now. Such as seats, access, membership, matchmaking or even encapsulated digital music products where the relationship between the fan and the artist/song and other fans is held within something that is personalized and private. This digital something that I am talking about becomes real and physical when you go to a venue and you sitting where you are, next to someone (another fan), and it happens not by chance, but via captured preferences and historical social and transaction history.
    Put it this way, I could figure out how to make it all work nicely, so I am sure someone else will…

  6. As Bruce makes mention of right above….
    Everybody wants ACCESS. That’s what it’s all about. Think about it: If you have money to spend on anything you want, what would you do with it? You will try to acquire ACCESS to those things that others can’t have. You want to get as close to the action as possible. Everybody wants to live vicariously through the people they idolize, and what better way to do that than getting as close as possible to the real thing.

  7. This is a very interesting development, in my opinion. I am really excited about some of the ideas mentioned above, which would allow TM to vault into a more meaningful site/purchasing experience than it is today. Right now it’s a very corporate experience, not conducive to anything personalized. I think there is a lot of room to try different ways of adding value to the core competency. I do think that there is a great upsell opportunity, for downloads, merch, etc. Impulse buys – I personally only use the site when I know exactly who I want to see, and I already know they are in town, so if TM would focus more on content/band discovery, getting into the recommendation space by knowing my preferences (or are they already doing that, and I just don’t use it enough?), that would be a start. Nothin like discovering some new artist that you can go see in your local town. OK, I am rambling…

  8. They do have a tool to sell tickets on artists own sites – ticketweb.com
    While I’m not an artist, the tickets I sell are branded to my events and with my brand and I have used them for artist ticketing merely by changing the brand and embedding the links into artist sites.
    I think you’ll see a pretty amazing suite of tools that Ticketmaster Ent will be able to offer artists, promoters and venues, with sophisticated upsell abilities attached to a main site / database.
    Also be on the lookout for a deal with AEG. Conventional wisdom says Barry Diller, in partnering with Irving Azoff is just going to buy his way into the concert and venue management biz.
    my 2 cents

  9. I’ve never heard anyone say that they love the “ticketmaster experience”. Ever.
    Ticketmaster has always been more interested in control than they are about creating value in the music business.
    The only reason we use them is because they’ve muscled their way into being the exclusive vendor for most of the events we want to see.

  10. Many Band sites have direct or premium seating for ticket selling with lower or no service charges as Ticket Master does. Also there are companies such as OfficialCommunity.com, that has designed sites for many acts where fans have a community, can buy premium products, exclusive items. These sites are designed to be the business for the artist, and community of fans promoting the act.
    Artist with or without label deals can gain huge markets from such sites. Examples would consist of MarkKnopfler, DavidGray, and TedNugent, all of whom still tour to sell out crowds, and reap the benefit of maintaining a strong fan base, in the new electronic age.

  11. A company New World Digital Entertainment is doing exactly what this article is talking about. They have a way to proactivly conact the fans from a desktop and mobile platform, sell downloads, tickets and physical content and merchandise.
    They are a Los Angeles company also, so maybe Ticketmaster Entertainment and New World Digital Entertainment should talk and see what the future of music can be.

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