U.S. May Never See A Festival Market Like U.K. Has

image from cdn.ticketfly.com This is part two of my interview with Andrew Dreskin, who is CEO of Ticketfly, an independent ticketing and social marketing platform. In this segment, Dreskin explains why the U.S. may not see a festival market like the one in Europe and how the economic recession has affected ticket sales.

Hypebot: Will the U.S. live music market become more focused on festivals like those that the U.K. has?

Andrew Dreskin: It's hard to say. I'm not sure we will ever see a festival market in the U.S. like the one in Europe. It’s staggering that the U.K., a country 20% of the size of the U.S., has so many more large-scale festivals than the U.S. I guess it's due to the fact that kids in the U.K. grow up going to festivals. It’s woven into their fabric from a very early age. We have some great festivals in the U.S.: Bonnaroo, Coachella and, of course, the Virgin Mobile Festival, which I produce. There was a mini-festival bubble, which had formed a few years back, but natural selection has taken its toll. I think the entire crop of festivals founded in 2008 have since gone away. I do think we will see more in the future though.

Hypebot: What are the challenges in raising the number of tickets the average person buys?

Andrew Dreskin: At Ticketfly, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to increase utilization rates. 40% of concert tickets go unsold. Our metrics are better than that, but we still have a ways to go. 85% of our ticket buyers buy ticket once a year per venue. We are germinating numerous marketing ideas and technologies, which will be released in the new year, which we believe will incentivize people to see shows at our venues more than once a year and will help our clients to increase utilization rates.

Hypebot: Have live music sales stayed strong throughout the economic downturn or fallen?

Andrew Dreskin: As we all know, the economy has been pretty abysmal over the past couple years. No industry has been immune. The high end of the concert industry has been taking a beating. Sales for the top tours are down 20% or so. But in the same way the movie business performed well in the downturn, the middle market of the concert industry has stayed pretty buoyant. Concerts allow people to escape and with the world crumbling around them, people still want to go to their local club, drink beer, and see a great band on a Friday night.

Hypebot: Are mobile applications and marketing shifting the way fans buy concert tickets?

Andrew Dreskin: Yes. A significant number of our tickets are sold via Facebook Mobile and Twitter. Commerce in the ticketing and concert industries is undeniably moving to the phone, which is why we are very much focused on mobile strategies for our clients. We develop client-branded iPhone Apps, which pull data in real time from our content management system and allow for mobile optimized purchasing. As far as I know, we are the most prolific developer of iPhone Apps for the concert industry. By the end of the year, we will have 24 client branded apps in the App Store.

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  1. The bit about ‘kids in the U.K. grow up going to festivals’ is way off-base. If that’s happened, it’s only been recently (last 15 years), but he makes it sound like we have some sort of big tradition. Not really. I went to festivals as a kid in the late 80s, and I was seen as being extremely unusual. I got back from Glastonbury one year to have a teacher ask with a straight face if I was a pagan. I don’t know so much about the U.S. scene, but it sounds kind of similar to the way we were over here in the 70s/80s/early 90s, so my guess would be there’s every chance it could change in the same way our scene did.

  2. I think the Festival scene in the UK is big due to the small size of our country. Everyone can get everywhere very easily and so even small scale festivals can be well attended. Perhaps

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