Guest post by Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
It’s a sad fact: Every night, at venues across the land, bands play to half-empty venues or worse. Meanwhile, people who would enjoy the show sit across town, non-blissfully unaware of what they could be doing, if only they’d thought to check.
First of all, a plethora of apps already exist for finding out about live music. You can even use Songkick (now for Android) or something of its ilk to parse your listening habits and let you know when a band you like is coming to town. Thrillcall takes an opposite approach. It behaves the same way for ever user, because the salient factor is the date - as in, “What’s going on tonight, and where do my friends and I get tickets?”
Thrillcall recently launched in New York City, bringing its tally to 10 United States locations (Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle). Open the iOS or web app and choose your city; you’ll see shows in two categories: Tonight’s Music and Exclusive.
When we first checked in with this intriguing service — we say “intriguing” because nobody had done it yet and this is 2012 — we called it “GroupOn for live music,” based on the way it packages ticket deal on shows happening that night in certain cities, presenting them just in time for people to act. However, there were almost no shows listed within the app. That has changed in a big way. We found plenty of great shows in every city we checked, and today is a Tuesday — everything from Cadence Weapon/Japandroids at Boston’s Brighton Music Hall to Yellowman at New York’s Ollie’s Point.
We asked Thrillcall the same question we put to anyone introducing something new in 2012: Why has no one done this before (i.e. tried to sell tickets to last-minute show-goers)?
“First, the team’s background is in consumer marketing with a heavy focus on analytics, so we test and see what works,” responded Thrillcall co-founder Matthew Tomaszewicz. “More importantly, however, the live show is an experience — it’s not simply a hard good or service, and can’t be marketed and sold simply as distressed last minute inventory or even ‘let’s move it because it’s perishable.’ The value we associate with the ticket makes it more enviable because it’s an exclusive or special offer. It increases the value. Models that discount tickets last-minute diminish the value of the overall show, and everyone loses. The show is special, for the artist and for the fan, and should be marketed as such.”
The app works fine for what it does, although ideally, you’d get to hear what these bands sound like (the app includes no audio), and it would be nice if the shows were ranked based on how much you’re likely to like them, based on your social graph or listening habits. But again, the idea is to keep this simple — find the deals, buy the tickets, and go to the show.
If you find something you know you like, you can choose a menu item and get a photo of the artist; the location of the venue (address and map); the show time, and the box office phone number for buying tickets. For more detailed information, the app links you to the show’s page on Thrillcall.com (within the app — no need to use the standard iPhone browser), where you can buy tickets online using whatever service the promoter and venue have decided on (we spotted Ticketmaster and Ticketfly).
So, how does Thrillcall do this? In part, the answer is “boots on the ground.” The company actually meets venue owners and signs them up as partners. Maybe this is another reason nobody else had done this yet; it can be hard to set up those relationships, because by this point, venue owners have already had plenty of dorky app people walk in and try to sell them something. Nonetheless, judging from the great selection of shows and venues we actually like that are in the app these days, their plan is working.
Use Thrillcall (free for iOS or web) to find out what’s playing, tonight, in any of the ten cities listed above.