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Blockchain ticketers welcome Ticketmaster’s Upgrade

TM's acquisition of Upgraded is good news for the business – and should drive adoption of blockchain technology, say existing players in the crypto-ticketing space

By Jon Chapple on 22 Oct 2018


image © XResch

The nascent crypto-ticketing sector has welcomed last week’s acquisition of Upgraded by Ticketmaster, with reps for blockchain-based ticket sellers saying Live Nation’s interest proves the buzz around the technology is justified.

The ticketing giant announced on 18 October it had acquired San Francisco-based start-up Upgraded, whose digital tickets are protected by blockchain technology – a tamper-proof ‘distributed ledger’ which permanently stores all transactions, best known for providing the foundation for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Ticketmaster’s Justin Burleigh said incorporating blockchain into Ticketmaster’s platform “will continue our progress to improve ticketing and create a safer and more seamless experience” for fans.

The Aventus Protocol Foundation – which raised more than US$18m in its initial coin offering (ICO) last September, and has since recruited high-profile names including ex-Eventim MD Rob Edwards and Waterson report author Prof. Michael Waterson to bang the drum for its open-source ticketing platform – says it is “thrilled to see the adoption of blockchain networks”, with the acquisition “validat[ing] our own vision for blockchain ticketing”.

“Along with Professor Waterson, we are excited to see ticketing organisations look toward blockchain as a potential technology answer to a plethora of ticketing challenges,” says the company in a blog post. “Ticketmaster acquiring Upgraded is welcome news as the ticketing industry moves towards a more secure, controlled and fairer ticketing experience.”

“The acquisition is yet another sign that serious players are clearly interested in implementing blockchain technology”

“Whether this move benefits the industry as a whole, or only Ticketmaster clients, remains an open question,” it adds.

Ticketfly co-founder Dan Teree – now COO of the recently launched Tari Labs, whose Tari blockchain will serve as a secure resale platform for ‘digital assets’, including tickets – says the acquisition is proof major music industry players are waking up to blockchain’s potential.

“TM’s acquisition is yet another sign that serious players are clearly interested in implementing blockchain technology as a means to turn tickets into digital assets,” he tells IQ, “and therefore gain more control over how tickets are transferred and monetised in the secondary market.”

Tari said in May blockchain can solve the problem of “economic leakage”, where middlemen reap the revenue from the resale of virtual goods, such as tickets. He said Tari will be designed to help compensate original “owners”, like artists, sports teams, event promoters and other parties.

“This news validates the application of blockchain ticketing on a larger scale”

“Firstly, our opinion is that this is a positive step,” adds Tom Roetgering of Netherlands-based GUTS Tickets. “Although you could raise questions about the way Upgraded tackles the dishonest reselling of tickets – and with that the ultimate motive behind the acquisition – the truth is, you never know what these kinds of moves will mean for the future. We are ultimately happy with this news, as it validates the application of blockchain ticketing on a larger scale.

“For us it has, obviously, been clear for quite some time that this is the way the ticketing industry is headed. Seeing the major players now dip their toes into blockchain is good PR, both for them and for us. As mentioned, it remains to be seen if and to what degree this acquisition will have any impact on the ticketing sphere. Meanwhile, we are building and gwe are building and growing.”

An exec from a fourth blockchain ticketing company, who asked not to be named, suggests Ticketmaster – which recently shut down its secondary ticketing platforms in Europe – will likely use Upgraded’s tech to control resale and, for the first time, be able to reimburse artists and promoters when their tickets are sold on.

“Now Ticketmaster’s involved, the rest [other ticket agencies] will have to follow suit,” they add. “This is as significant as when we first got digital, and later mobile, tickets. It’s time to evolve or be left behind.”


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