On Independent Ticketing

Why go independent? Clearly, the economics are compelling. But ultimately it’s about owning your audience and controlling your business, instead of renting it from a company larger than you and without your interests at heart.

In years past, independent ticketing companies were challenged when it came to handling big spikes in demand. And when phone sales ruled, only the largest ticketing companies had call centers big enough to handle the volume. But times have changed. Independent ticketers are now the technology leaders. And telephone demand has fallen off dramatically. Massive demand spikes are no longer a problem for the leading independents.

So that leaves marketing. For a minute, let’s assume that a massive email database and domain name recognition are as effective at moving tickets as some of the tools and techniques offered by leading indies. I don’t believe for one minute that’s true. But let’s pretend it is. The question becomes, are the email list and domain name worth it?
What if you had an extra couple of bucks per ticket to spend on marketing – without increasing the total cost to fans? Could you use that extra money to market your shows as effectively? My bet is that you could do a better job. All promotion is local, right?

First, consider those happy times you find yourself with a show that’s going to sell itself with no marketing? With a major, you – via your customers – have paid for that email list and domain name whether you need it or not; with the right indie, those unneeded marketing dollars can fall to your bottom line.

Or what if you could lower the total cost for fans, without it impacting your bottom line, and without it dulling your artist’s image? Maybe that cost difference is enough to move the bulk of your sales into the advance column, saving you from the whims of weather and everything else that can decimate your door sales.

Have you considered the good will that a smaller ticket fee can engender amongst your customers? YOUR customers. With most indies, you have unfettered access to your customer data. You can slice and dice and data mine and analyze and target like never before. This, after all, is what good promotion is all about. It’s not just placing bets on bands you think will sell. It’s about having an intimate knowledge of your audience so you can match them up with the right events and take some risk off the table. Sometimes it’s about having some powerful data to give you the confidence to pass on the “next big thing” that’s not right for your customers – or to recognize that you can fill the house for an emerging artist while you can still afford them.

The real promise of independent ticketing is that it puts more of your fate back in your hands. If you don’t want that control, and the responsibility that comes with it, go play craps. Go play roulette. Promoting shows wasn’t always just about assuming the risk. A promoter is a marketer, an entertainment broker. To be successful, you must know the product and the market better than anyone. And you must have the tools and authority to put that knowledge to work.

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