fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

NFTs: The future of ticketing?

Art auctions, album launches, video clips, gaming characters and even historic tweets have helped to put the concept of NFTs on the map, with hundreds of millions of dollars changing hands already this year for all manner of collectible digital assets.

The rush to become a part of this lucrative 21st-century phenomena has seen a raft of start-up enterprises amassing impressive sums in funding from eager investors, while the publicity that art auctions in particular have enjoyed has helped NFTs become one of the most searched-for terms on Google.

As a result, when it comes to leveraging the power of NFTs for ticketing, there is an ever-increasing pool of hopefuls trying to entice artists, venues, event organisers and established ticket operators to put their faith in the blockchain-based technology.

The multinational ticketing giants are cautious. Ticketmaster’s EVP of enterprise and revenue, Brendan Lynch, sums up their view on the use of blockchain-based operations: “Ticketmaster jumped into blockchain early, acquiring Upgraded back in 2018 and furthering our focus in the space through other investments and development.

“Blockchain ticketing is still in experimental stages and not yet scalable for broad ticketing delivery but is useful for specific low-volume situations. Right now, digital ticketing offers the same level of tokenisation, terms and security with way more scale – and since less than 10% of tickets get resold, a traditional blockchain still isn’t worthwhile for large onsales. But our cryptographers and engineers will continue to explore blockchain ticketing delivery to see where it can differentiate and add value in the future.”

However, the excitement among those who are helping to develop the NFT ticketing market is palpable and as the myriad applications and transparency that the blockchain can offer become more apparent, investment is flooding in to drive that development – including from the likes of Ticketmaster.

One company that has been working with blockchain for the last five years is Netherlands-based GET Protocol, which is also home to in-house ticketing operation GUTS Tickets. “It’s a little bit derogatory to say, but GUTS is sort of our ticket store asset to show what GET Protocol can do,” explains Olivier Biggs, the company’s head of marketing. “All of our tickets are NFTs and in our international expansion plans we are offering interested parties a white-label solution so that they receive the infrastructure of GUTS and can slap on their own logo and label.”

Championing the use of NFT ticketing, Biggs continues, “One of the big benefits is that you can really establish and sustain a connection from the artist or event organiser to the actual fan who shows up at the event. NFT ticketing also offers collectible opportunities, so whereas in the past you would put your event ticket stub on your fridge as a reminder, you can do this digitally by holding your ticket in your online wallet. This can include custom artwork from the artist or contain information about the show or whatever.”

Carolin Wend, co-founder and chief operating officer of NFT specialist Mintbase, is also bullish about its applications in ticketing. “I have a radical opinion on ticketing,” she tells IQ. “I used to work in ticketing for a company so I know how the business works, but in my opinion there is no innovation happening in the [big] platforms at all – it’s the same thing for the last ten or 20 years: you have a QR code, you go to a festival and someone scans it and you go in. Done. So it’s a one-time, single-use case for tickets – that QR code is used just once, for one purpose.

“With NFT tickets, it doesn’t need to be a QR code – your ticket could be a song or a video that is pegged to your smart contract. That’s much more dynamic as a format, but also, you keep it forever – the NFT is an asset that you own. And that is key. With NFT ticketing you can trade it wherever you want, you can gift it to a friend… this is not happening in the current ticketing system because although lots of [companies] have personalised tickets, you don’t really own the ticket because if you look at the definition of ownership it’s something that can be owned and controlled by myself. But if you look at traditional tickets, it’s just a QR code and I don’t really own it.

“With NFT tickets, I can trade it, but I can also verify that it is a real ticket, and I can control something in a very uncontrolled environment – the resale market.”

“With NFT tickets, I can trade it, but I can also verify that it is a real ticket, and I can control something in a very uncontrolled environment – the resale market”

Verification
Using cutting-edge technology to disrupt the ticketing business brings with it a different operations model, but intrinsically the two worlds are not that different.

“In the world of blockchain, you need verification of wallets, so what we do is, instead of it being a hexadecimal, we can verify that Josh Katz and Gordon Masson are friends. So, we can independently buy tickets to a show, but make sure we’re sitting next to each other because we’re verified as friends,” explains Katz, founder and CEO of New York-based YellowHeart, in which Live Nation/Ticketmaster was an early investor.

“YellowHeart also has a proprietary moving UPC barcode, which can be set to change from 1-5 seconds so that it cannot be screenshot. We could not have done this without blockchain,” says Katz. “The barcode rotates without connectivity, so you don’t need 5G or Wi-Fi. Since it’s on blockchain, it rotates based on the user’s private key on their device, so this would work for Burning Man or anything else that doesn’t have good connectivity.”

GET Protocol’s Biggs notes, “With the tickets being tied to a smartphone, we did not anticipate how big a benefit that would be. But that allows you to know, 100% of the time, who has the ticket, rather than who originally paid for it. The benefits are amazing – you can see who has already shown up to the event and who is running late. We had an event where there was a public transport outage and half of the audience was running late, but the artist was able to send those people specifically a message saying don’t worry, we know you are on the way and we won’t start until you get here.

“So you know exactly who you are talking to and you don’t have to fight social media algorithms and hope that you somehow reach the right people.”

“We had an event where half the audience was running late, but the artist was able to send those people a message saying don’t worry, we won’t start until you get here”

Collectibles
While most music fans have a stash of ticket stubs as souvenirs for shows they have attended, those involved in NFT ticketing believe that the collectability element will result in tickets being traded, post-event, between fans.

“We have a white-label integrator of the protocol in South Korea, but because we’re sober Dutch people we thought that the collectible thing might be a bit gimmicky and we had doubts about how many people would use it,” admits Biggs. “But in the land of K-pop they know about fandom and the level of involvement that real fans can have; any type of reward or interaction between a fan and the artist is priceless.”

Katz is all in on the collectability angle. Demonstrating the use of artist video content as the NFT ticket, Katz claims such dynamic technology is far more engaging for fans, and underlines the collectible element.

“Essentially, if you go to see a show and you’re one of ten people in the audience to get a special NFT ticket, then that makes those tickets hugely collectible after the show. Plus it’s proof of attendance that you saw your favourite acts play at some tiny venue in, let’s say, London,” says Katz.

“The scarcity in the nature of tickets is a business – there are only so many front row seats, for instance.” Programming those tickets with audio or visual add-ons would only enhance their rarity. “These tickets will be worth more after the show than they were before,” claims Katz. “The value add of this technology is massive.”

“Any type of reward or interaction between a fan and the artist is priceless”

Eliminating scalpers
One of the much-touted advantages that NFT ticketing offers is its ability to clamp down on secondary ticketing profiteers. That aspect was one of the driving forces behind the launch of YellowHeart.

“YellowHeart comes from the fans and was built for fans: its goal is to create frictionless commerce between the fans and the artists,” explains Katz.

“I’m religious about the band Phish – I go to every concert. I’m also a huge Yankees fan, but I’m constantly getting ripped off. Spending [US]$1,000 to take my family to a baseball game was driving me insane. And as a Phish fan, I travel with a large group of fans, some of whom are doctors and lawyers and have well-paid jobs, but tickets are still an issue. I can travel with 20 people but ten do not have a ticket because they are on StubHub for $900when the face value is $80.”

Determined to come up with something that could disrupt that status quo, Katz turned to the blockchain and its ability to make transactions transparent, as well as allowing fans to ensure what they are paying for is genuine. “We have full transactional details of every ticket,” says Katz. “11.5% of tickets that get sold through the secondary market are fraudulent. But using the ticket history, or blockchain ledger, fans can see that their ticket was minted by Ticketmaster, for instance, then who it was first sold to and for how much, so they can judge if they’re being ripped off. So NFT ticketing gives the fans authentication and transparency around tickets.”

That’s a selling point also highlighted by Liam Boyd, CEO of music at Bondly, who comments, “NFT tickets are on the open blockchain, which means anyone can see how they are transferred at any time. This in turn allows greater transparency as well as enhanced security resulting in peace of mind for all parties involved. You can also send the holder updates and info through sending additional NFTs.”

It’s that final point that sets NFTs apart.

“NFT tickets are on the open blockchain, which means anyone can see how they are transferred at any time. This allows greater transparency”

Fan communication
While NFT ticketing requires the audience to, by and large, all be in possession of smartphones, there are procedures to allow others into venues. But more on that later.

For those who are in possession of 21st-century equipment, assuming the ticket holder has their NFT ticket stored in a digital wallet on their mobile device, the possibilities for communication with them are endless.

“It allows the artist to know exactly who attended their concert, and it could also lead to artists rewarding super fans by sending them exclusive content or inviting them for a meet-and-greet and stuff like that,” notes Biggs.

Katz says, “Right before the show you can send people a message telling them that you’re going on stage in 20 minutes – you send that through the ticket. Chainsmokers are early partners in the company and one of the things we’ve talked about with them is the ability to send messages out to, say, 20 fans [letting them know] they’re looking forward to rocking out with them next week. That’s where we’re heading with all of this.”

So, what about those people who don’t own smartphones?

“We’ve been very focussed on having a product that is not just cool technologically, but that can also serve all users,” says Biggs. “In our first year, we did some pilot events with a comedian whose audience is in the older demographic and therefore might not be tech savvy. That was very viable because we wanted to make sure anybody who bought a ticket didn’t have any surprises.

“There is always a way to get someone in through customer support. Sometimes people lose their phones on their way to the concert, or they change phones or something. But given that you are already in the system and you have bought a ticket, there are ways to verify your identity at the location.”

From YellowHeart’s point of view, Katz notes, “If someone shows up without their device, they can go to the box office with a government-issued ID and our system can verify who they are, allowing them to walk in the door.”

“Right before the show you can send people a message telling them that you’re going on stage in 20 minutes – you send that through the ticket”

Rules, royalties & revenues
Another unique tool for blockchain-based ticketing is the ability for NFTs to be encoded with specific sets of rules, which can benefit both the creator of the ticket and the final user: the fan.

Bondly’s Boyd tells IQ, “We have an amazing end to end NFT tech stack, which includes NFT creation, white labelling for music artists and brands, and an NFT swap feature called BondSwap where fans could actually swap their NFT tickets with each other. We also have an incredibly talented and large creative team who really bring these NFTs to life with art, music, perks and rewards.

“Bondly’s NFT ticketing is giving artists and festivals, for example, the opportunity to expand their fans’ experience and interaction with music through unique content, rewards and more. Fans can even receive festival maps or line-up information as the ticket is a world of opportunity.”

Katz agrees. “We are able to encode any rule you think of on the ticket. And a rule can go down to a single ticket or a section of the audience – and the artwork can be made specifically for different sections, so the front-row tickets can be different from the second row, which helps to make the tickets super collectible.

“Rules such as age restrictions, uplift limits for the resale on secondary markets, which can be easily set to zero. Then there’s transferability – you have a lot of tickets that you might not want to be transferred, such as guest list, or you might allow for them to be transferred once.

“You can also set limits for the maximum number of tickets a wallet can hold, which can also help eliminate scalping. So, if you set the limit to four tickets, if they tried to buy a fifth, it would be declined.”

GET Protocol’s Biggs notes, “There are also lots more technical things that NFT ticketing can do in terms of royalties or residual revenues, where you can programme the tickets so that if they are resold on the secondary market, a certain percentage always goes back to the original artist or event organiser, or both. So without having to police it or organise a whole infrastructure for this, it’s simply programmed that you will automatically receive any residual revenues – so very low effort and very high reward.”

Indeed, Wend predicts such applications could even help some event organisers to rewrite the ways in which their businesses operate.

“What we have developed on Mintbase and the new NEAR blockchain is something we’ve called split revenues and split royalties,” she explains. “That means, when I put an NFT ticket on sale for my festival, for example, Rihanna would get 5% of every ticket sold, David Guetta gets 5% of every ticket sold, another artist gets 2%. At the moment the ticket is sold, the money gets split between the different parties. This is a completely new innovation because it means those artists are stakeholders in the event and they get paid at the ticket sale because it is a peer-to-peer system.

“It’s a new paradigm of doing ticketing because promoters can say rather than getting paid a few thousand dollars, artists could get a percentage of each ticket sale, giving the artists more incentives and motivation to push the event because they are stakeholders.”

“You can programme the tickets so that if they are resold on the secondary market, a percentage always goes back to the original artist or event organiser, or both”

Costs
Of course, one of the key selling points for anyone considering trialling NFT ticketing will be the cost of using such a system. Biggs reveals GET Protocol’s pragmatic approach when he observes, “We need to be competitive to provide an alternative to the big ticketing companies.”

Others provide greater detail. “Costs depend on which blockchain the NFT company uses, as transaction fees fluctuate all the time,” says Wend. “But minting one NFT is fractions of a cent and creating a shop for the smart contract is about $40 [€33]. So, for a 5,000-capacity gig, minting the tickets and creating a store would cost about $60-70 [€60-58]. And Mintbase takes 2.5% of every ticket sold.”

Comparing YellowHeart’s fees to that of the major ticketing outlets, Katz proclaims, “We’re 10% of the price.”

He continues, “Traditional ticketing fees can range between 12% and 47%. YellowHeart is 2.5% to 5%. And that’s only to the seller. Buyers don’t pay fees.

“We did not build YellowHeart so that the industry could make more money off the fans. They can if they use it correctly because more fans will attend events and they will want to spend more money. If they’re not being ripped off on tickets, they’ll spend more on concessions and merch and everything else. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to a show where I’ve spent $600 or $800 on tickets and I’ve said to the people I’m with, let’s go for dinner and they can’t because all of their money has gone on the tickets. That’s the truth of what goes on.

“I’m a fan and I’ve sat in the audience with other fans who have been ripped off for years, and I just knew there had to be a better way. So I built this for the fans. Hopefully, the artist will care enough to use it for their fans.”

Mintbase’s Wend adds, “Most NFT companies are on Ethereum – we are on Ethereum – but we are now on NEAR Protocol as well, so we are a multi-chain platform. The difference is that on Mintbase and the NEAR blockchain, it’s much more affordable than on Ethereum to mint and trade NFTs. So, it’s cost efficient, but it’s also climate neutral because NEAR uses a proof-of-state mechanism, and not the Ethereum proof-of-work mechanism. So that’s better for the environment.”

“I’m a fan and I’ve sat in the audience with other fans who have been ripped off for years, and I 
just knew there had to be a better way”

Future forecasts
While Ticketmaster’s Lynch may be unconvinced about the scalability of blockchain ticketing, the company is still keen to talk up its abilities to provide clients with NFT ticketing options.

“Ticketmaster can help provide any artist, team or event with a solution to have their tickets deliver special NFTs,” says Lynch. “NFTs provide immediate benefits to sports and artists by opening up new ways to engage with their biggest fans. For so long a ticket has simply equalled access to an event, but with NFTs it can be so much more – in the months between an onsale and the event a ticket can become a channel for fans to access things like exclusive content or limited edition merch, or artists and teams can carve out unique loyalty and VIP engagement opportunities to surprise and delight fans before during or after the event, we can also designate different levels of super-fan status based on attendance and other engagement to unlock rewards and dynamic fan club benefits.”

Lynch adds, “The possibilities are endless, and we are planning some really exciting things.”

Bondly’s Boyd is realistic about the prospects for the new format, but he is confident that the benefits will make NFT tickets a huge hit with fans everywhere. “At the moment, the NFT ticket will not replace the traditional ticket, but owning an NFT gives fans many benefits,” he says.

“In the short-term, I believe it will be used for intimate live events and [for] welcoming, alongside a traditional ticket, as we at Bondly are using it. In the long-term, it will become the ticket and replace traditional tickets as we know them now,” Boyd forecasts. “At Bondly we are using our place at the forefront of NFT technology to continuously innovate and find new exciting ways to make NFTs more accessible to the masses and really shorten the education journey along the way.”

Wend is equally bullish and reveals that Mintbase is currently building a hybrid NFT event for Wilde Möhre Festival, which is held across four weekends in Drebkau, Germany. “We are planning a virtual twin of the festival, but also at the event there will be an NF-Tea House where people can drink tea and create their own ecosystem around NFTs. Every artist who is performing at the physical festival will get the opportunity to sell their own NFTs – tickets, art, whatever,” she says.

She adds, “I think traditional ticketing will be replaced by NFTs because it is peer-to-peer and it’s transparent on the blockchain, meaning people cannot be lied to anymore. It’s the future, not only for ticketing, but also for many other digital markets.

“2022 will be the big year for NFT ticketing. Wilde Möhre is happening this year but that’s because it’s just 1,000 people at each edition and it’s outside, so it meets Covid rules. That makes it perfect for us to use as a case study and play around with what we can offer. Things will break because it’s a new technology, but we can take those lessons and apply them to other events. In fact, we will be presenting the concept at the Future of Festivals Conference in Berlin in November.”

Katz concurs with Wend’s NFT takeover assessment. “In the short-term, I think the incumbent ticketing giants are going to try to do this themselves and fail,” he says. “They are in such disarray trying to get concerts back that I don’t think they are going to pay attention to this. But I think that the fans are going to demand this technology once they use it.

“Pre-Covid, YellowHeart had our hands tied. We had a Live Nation/Ticketmaster relationship and there wasn’t much we were able to do outside of that. Post-Covid we’re getting calls from major teams, artists, venues, festivals, you name it, they’ve been calling us because they realise there are better ways to do ticketing and it’s a whole new world now.”

Revealing that GET Protocol is already operating in four territories – Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and South Korea – Biggs comments, “We’re in the sweet spot of having enough experience to know what we’re doing and to bring new technologies to the masses with a framework that people understand and allows them to enjoy events every day.

“We were either very lucky or very smart, as we knew that NFTs were going to enjoy a wave of publicity, but we did not quite anticipate how big it would become in the mainstream world all of a sudden. A lot of people come to the conclusion themselves that the stuff in the art world is cool, but what about ticketing?”

Biggs concludes, “For NFTs we are at the peak of the hype right now. Everyone wants to do something, whether they understand it or not, but that means it’s also going to have to deflate somewhat, which is also very healthy.

“As with the blockchain hype, a lot of people who saw cool ideas in the beginning actually had to make them work. So we’re in for a big unsexy and uninteresting period where people find utility and create it and try to cram it into a market fit and fail miserably before trying again. But hopefully they will come up with some cool things along the way that will actually benefit people.

“The interest is there and it has to be on the radars of the bigger players as well who can sense where things are going and will definitely want to be a part of it. It’s very exciting.”

 


Read this feature in its original format in the digital edition of IQ 99:


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Finding gold in the glitter – how NFTs are going to impact ticketing

A recent discovery was made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that drew the attention of anyone in the vicinity: a hill was found to contain 98% gold in its soil. As can be expected after such a find, anyone within travelling distance with a shovel or fingernails has feverishly been digging away at the mountain, trying to extract its riches.

It’s not too difficult to draw a comparison between this mountain and the recent NFT hype.

If you have been consuming any type of media, social or other, chances are you will have heard the term ‘NFT’ several dozen times over the last few weeks. From Kings of Leon releasing their album as an NFT to sports mogul Ted Leonsis naming the benefits of NFTs in sports to digital artist Beeple auctioning off an NFT artwork for $69 million through esteemed auction house Christie’s.

Needless to say, there is a lot of hype around those three letters right now, as everyone begins sticking their shovels into this newly discovered mountain of gold. There seems to be no end to what it can provide; common dirt clusters are suddenly invaluable gems.

“NFT ticketing is a use case worth taking very seriously”

The obvious counter-response to a new trend that seems to be making everyone and their mother ridiculous amounts of money without any significant friction is to question its legitimacy.

However, simply dismissing NFTs as a fad or a money-grab would be a wasted opportunity. There is indeed merit to it, especially as its application and use cases are developed and fine-tuned.

For everyone in the entertainment industry, and especially the ticketing business, reading up on the possibilities and potential implementations of NFTs should be required homework.

I’ll explain why we’ve been working on an NFT ticketing approach over the past year at GET Protocol, and how we see it shaping the future of events.

But first, some basics. What is an NFT?

“The term is short for non-fungible token and, in plain English, refers to a small digital file – such as a drawing, a short video clip or even a tweet – that has been registered as one of a kind, or one of a limited batch, using blockchain software.”Decrypt

Over the past few months NFTs have proven themselves useful in allowing digital content creators to take ownership over their craft and content. An artist now no longer relies on intermediaries such as agents, galleries or publishers to get their work in the hands of their (potential) fans.

While the headlines are filled with astronomical bidding wars and overnight millionaires, there’s a lot more to it than hot shot auctions and digital art, where most of the hype has originated from thus far.

“Dismissing NFTs as a fad or a money-grab would be a wasted opportunity”

NFT ticketing is a use case worth taking very seriously. When applied correctly, it enables ticket issuers a variety of benefits that impact and drastically improve the ticketing experience. Both for the fan and the organizer or artist.

Here are three benefits of NFT tickets we are embracing and will be offering to the ticketing companies using GET Protocol. Feel free to copy, tweak or critique them at your own discretion.

A. Perpetual revenue
Since NFT tickets are programmable, it is possible to introduce a built-in ‘royalty split’ for any resale on the secondary market. Profit sharing can be tweaked to the liking of the ticket issuer and written into the smart contract code.

Finally, those who actually deliver the value can profit from secondary ticket sales, instead of greedy touts or resale platforms. All without any need for complicated accounting or external parties.

B. Tickets as collectibles
This might seem gimmicky, but the sentimental experience of fandom should not be overlooked. Think of a digitised version of sticking the ticket to an unforgettable night on your refrigerator, only with way more possibilities to maximise the memories and cultivate a longstanding connection with a fan.

As NFTs, tickets can turn into proof-of-attendance badges (we are partnering with POAP for this purpose) which can be shown off online and even traded. It can also allow you to find and reward your diehard fans who go to every show, for example by sending exclusive content to those fans in possession of a previously issued ticket. The possibilities and variations here are limitless.

C. Pre-financing of future events
We are working on a ‘DeFi’ (decentralised finance – don’t worry, we’ll save that for another blog) approach that will allow event organisers to use their ticket inventory as collateral. This will enable organisers to offer up their (NFT) tickets for investment prior to making any organisational costs.

This type of crowdfund investing can help organisers mitigate (part of) the risk of setting up a new event. Especially in a post-Covid world, this can be a welcome change. Read more about this functionality here.getNFT Smart Ticket Asset

If you want to know more about the technical workings of our NFT ticketing approach, I highly recommend this blog: Tokenizing the right of entry — Using NFTs to solve ticket scalping.

Of course, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. As with all new developments there are certain doubts and downsides being propagated which are worth mentioning briefly.

The two major counter-arguments heard right now are:

https://twitter.com/Moxarra/status/1369526290257154049

Humble advice: Be critical – but don’t miss out by being a boomer. 😉

Moving forward
As NFT applications mature we will begin to see where the longevity lies and how impactful the newly uncovered innovations are going to be. There will undoubtedly be growing pains and challenges along the way, but all signs indicate that the road ahead is worth the trouble.

As long as you look close enough, there’s gold to be found for everyone.

 


Olivier Biggs is a marketeer at GET Protocol and GUTS Tickets. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to get in touch via the GET Protocol website or follow the company’s developments on Twitter.

Di-rect show in big-screen cinema moves 14,000 tickets

Dutch rock band Di-rect sold more than 14,000 tickets for their latest concert live stream, held at the Omniversum cinema in the Hague last Friday (5 March).

The show, the band’s sixth in the last 12 months, saw Di-rect perform in front of Omniversum’s giant, Imax-style domed screen – which at 840m² is 4,500 times larger than a home television, and wraps halfway around the audience – against the backdrop of immersive light show created by projection-mapping company Mr Beam.

Like previous Di-Rect live streams, tickets for the Omniversum event were sold by GUTS Tickets on a pay-what-you-choose model.

“A band in great shape, a high-quality livestream from a unique location, and the ‘pay-what-you-like’ ticketing defines its success”

“It’s great to see so much enthusiasm for Di-rect’s livestream concerts,” says promoter Agents After All in a statement. “Even though it was their sixth live stream in a year, it was their best sold one to date. The combination of a band in great shape, a high-quality livestream from a unique location, and the ‘pay-what-you-like’ ticketing with GUTS ticketing defines its success, we believe.

“A great compliment to everyone involved and we look forward to the next event on 1 May with the Hague Philharmonic Orchestra.”

Tickets for Di-rect’s seventh live stream, from AFAS Circus Theatre in the Hague, are on sale now via the band’s website. Pay-what-you-like pricing starts from a minimum of €2.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ IndexIQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

10,000 fans buy tickets for virtual Di-rect show

Nearly 10,000 people tuned into a ticketed livestream performance by the popular Dutch band Di-rect in the Hague on Saturday.

The veteran rock act played to an empty Royal Theatre (Koninklijke Schouwburg), a 680-seat venue in the centre of the Netherlands’ legislative capital, on 6 June, after having sold tickets for the concert on a pay-what-you-want basis.

With ticket sales of just shy of 10,000, the band – who were originally scheduled to play 20 festival shows this summer – played to a virtual crowd of around 15 times the Royal Theatre’s in-person capacity, according to ticket seller GUTS Tickets.



In addition to storing the tickets for the show, GUTS’s smartphone-based ticket wallet served as a chat room for fans to interact during the performance. (“By far my most special concert ever,” read one typical comment. “Dancing by myself in my sweatpants with a beer in my hand!”)

“We believe that in the future every performance will be livestreamed”

Tom Roetgering, CCO of GUTS Tickets, says the success of the event proves paid-for live streams are here to stay.

“We believe that in the future every performance will be livestreamed,” he says. “Not only does it add a source of revenue for the artist, but it also helps build a valuable and lasting connection to their fanbase. We are glad our system can make some significant contributions to this process.”

Other recent ticketed livestreamed successes include Laura Marling, who played the Union Chapel in Islington, London, also on Saturday, and Lewis Capaldi, who reportedly generated “arena-level”, though unspecified, ticket sales for his show at his parents’ house. K-pop band SuperM, meanwhile, sold a reported 75,000 tickets for their first Beyond Live show in April.

Following the success of the Royal Theatre concert, Di-rect announced another livestreamed performance, on Scheveningen beach, near the Hague, again ticketed by GUTS.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Amsterdam’s GUTS Tickets sets up shop in Korea

The team behind Dutch blockchain ticketing platform GUTS Tickets is launching getTicket, a new ticketing company based in South Korea.

Working together with local partners, GUTS is bringing its anti-tout and anti-fraud ticketing technology to Asia. GetTicket is ready to sell its first tickets, with GUTS stating that “multiple big events” are already lined up.

Founded in 2016, GUTS uses the blockchain-based GET Protocol to register all transactions, allowing organisers to track each ticket bought, alerting them to duplication or above-face-value resale. All ticket bought through GUTS are registered to the buyer’s mobile phone.

Put simply, says the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, “GUTS has come up with a technology that prevents unwanted third parties intervening in the ecosystem between event organiser and the end consumer.”

“Our mission of becoming the worldwide standard for digital ticketing is nowhere near to complete”

The company has broken multiple blockchain ticketing records, most recently powering the sale for two 35,000-capacity shows by pop star Guus Meeuwis at the Philips Stadium in Eindhoven. GUTS is the official ticketing partner of Dutch festival Oerrock.

GetTicket is GUTS’ first venture outside of the Netherlands.

“Over the 3.5 years since we sold our first ticket, the team has put forth a world-class achievement,” says Maarten Bloemers, founder of GUTS Tickets.

“The fact that we are now getting recognition on a global scale makes me incredibly proud. However, our mission of becoming the worldwide standard for digital ticketing is nowhere near to complete. We won’t rest until we get there.”

Companies in over 40 countries worldwide have shown interest in using GUTS’ white label ticketing solution. Following the launch of getTicket, the company plans on launching its technology in other markets.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

GUTS Tickets partners with Dutch festival Oerrock

Amsterdam-based blockchain ticketing service GUTS Tickets will supply all digital tickets for the upcoming edition of Oerrock festival in Friesland, the Netherlands.

Founded in 2016, GUTS has broken multiple blockchain ticketing records, most recently powering the sale for two 35,000-capacity shows by pop star Guus Meeuwis at the Philips Stadium in Eindhoven.

The new partnership will see GUTS provide ticketing for the three-day festival, which takes place from 21 to 23 May 2020. Line-up details will be released when tickets go on sale on Wednesday 15 January.

Founded in 2000, Oerrock now attracts over 35,000 visitors a year. Last year’s festival featured Dutch artists including Meeuwis, Golden Earring, Miss Montreal and the Dirty Daddies.

“It’s a huge improvement that we are now preventing all unwanted resales of tickets”

“We think this step is beneficial for our festival and our visitors,” comments festival treasurer Kees-Jan Dijk. “And of course it’s a huge improvement that we are now preventing all unwanted resales of tickets.”

Tickets bought via GUTS are registered to the mobile phone of the buyer, protecting fans from touting or fraud. All transactions are registered with blockchain technology, allowing organisers to track each ticket and preventing duplication or above-face-value resale.

“We are proud to work with such a likeable and sincere organisation. Together, we’ll provide the visitors of Oerrock an awesome and carefree weekend,” adds GUTS founder and CEO Maarten Bloemers.

Tickets will become available here, with weekend tickets priced at €38.75.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Forget Spotify – here’s how Libra could transform ticketing

On Tuesday, Facebook revealed the inaugural members of the Libra Association, the non-profit organisation tasked with governing its new cryptocurrency, Libra. With the exception of streaming service Spotify, which said it plans to use the digital currency to facilitate payments in emerging markets, music-industry support for Libra was largely absent – a surprise given the numerous music businesses, particularly in ticketing, active in the crypto/blockchain space.

Here, blockchain expert Kasper Keunen, a developer with the Netherlands’ GUTS Tickets, weighs in on what the launch of Libra means for those businesses – and why its open-source nature presents an opportunity to break the vertically integrated mega-promoters’ hold on the ticketing…

 


Libra: Initial thoughts
I think it is safe to say that when Facebook initially announced their plans to create a cryptocurrency, everybody in the crypto scene was sceptical. This was mainly due to Facebook’s reputation of data mining and user tracking.

However, the technical documentation made public on Tuesday seems to indicate the proposed blockchain is far more permissionless and open than was initially expected. For example, the Libra white paper states that Facebook will not have more control than any other member in its alliance (so, 1% of the voting rights). Also, the code is fully open source, and it is not required to have a Facebook account to be a user on Libra.

As with everything, the proof will be in the pudding – we’ll have to see if Libra will be executed to the standards stated in the white paper. But to give credit where credit is due, I would say this is a good start.

Where are the ticketing companies?
I found it noticeable that no ticketing company is among the first batch of companies using Libra. If we compare the market capitalisations of the biggest ticketing companies to those associated with Libra, both Eventbrite (US$1.4 billion) and Live Nation/Ticketmaster ($14bn) would fit size-wise – and as Booking.com is currently alone in the ‘travel’ category (which could easily be extended to ‘leisure and travel’ or similar), it gives some room to speculate.

As Eventbrite is currently integrating with Facebook to sell tickets, it’s probably only a matter of time before Eventbrite joins. I would imagine Live Nation is a lot harder, as a significant portion of their ticketing portfolio (mainly in the US) is in the resale sector. However, their absence could very well mean nothing; it seems that all the companies supporting Libra have a well-known brand, whereas Live Nation has a few companies in its portfolio that are less popular, so it could be that they left LN out and it will be added later.

I’m able to be less speculative about what this means for projects that are already operational in the blockchain ticketing space…

In five years, any company could join the network and use the same functionalities as founding members

Impact on blockchain ticketing
If a blockchain ticketing company (like ourselves) is delivering the exact same thing as traditional ticketing companies but only on a blockchain, it is unlikely they will remain competitive. As the corporate support for Libra clearly signals, blockchain as a technology stack is rapidly maturing, and it will only be a matter of time before it’s included in a list of possible database structures. Hence we are not aiming to do the exact same thing as traditional ticketing companies, but ‘on a blockchain’.

GET features, like sharing tickets, creating festival groups/squads, digital event tokens and providing provable transparency (without breaking privacy laws), require far more technology than just the blockchain ‘database’ used to store the data. Meaning that the brand, experience and tech we have built over the last three years is more extensive than just ‘the blockchain’.

Opportunities and the future
The (surprisingly) permissionless and open-source nature of Libra would allow us to tap into a database of potentially billions of users (of course, all on an opt-in basis). This premise does seem to erode some of the advantage currently in hands of companies like Live Nation, whose consumer database is often a motivator for organisers to choose them as a ticketing service, as LN can reduce the marketing cost for an event due to their reach.

If blockchain ticketing companies can use Libra to tap into an even larger network of users (again, all on an opt-in basis for consumers), this blockchain might erode some of LN’s monopoly power. The Libra documentation states that they plan to open the association up for the public in five years, meaning that at that point any company could join the network and use the same functionalities as founding members (though it does seem too good to be true).

Going on the white paper alone, it seems that Libra could create a more competitive market, both in ticketing and in other markets. At GET, we know that blockchain is far more than just a type of database and welcome mainstream users and the possible erosion of monopolies by increased access to a large consumer base. Time will tell!

 


Kasper Keunen is a blockchain developer for GUTS Tickets and the GET Protocol Foundation.

GUTS prepares for biggest blockchain-ticketed show

Amsterdam-based blockchain ticketing service GUTS Tickets will power the sale for Dutch pop star Guus Meeuwis’ upcoming shows, in the largest individual shows to be ticketed on blockchain technology.

Meeuwis is performing two shows at the 35,000-capacity Philips Stadium in Eindhoven, home to PSV football club, on 12 and 13 June 2020.

The shows are set to break the record for the largest-ever blockchain ticketing sale, set by GUTS with the sale of 50,000 tickets for comedian Jochem Myjer’s 36-night run at Amsterdam’s Royal Theatre Carre (1,756-cap.).

Tickets bought via GUTS are registered to the mobile phone of the buyer, protecting fans from touting or fraud. All transactions are registered with blockchain technology, allowing organisers to track each ticket and preventing duplication or above-face-value resale.

Tickets bought via GUTS are registered to the mobile phone of the buyer, protecting fans from touting or fraud

In 2018, Meeuwis was one several Dutch artists to sign a manifesto demanding an end to high ticket prices on the secondary market.

The European Parliament recently tackled the issue of resale directly for the first time, banning the use of ticket bots and requiring more transparency from sellers. According to GUTS, no specific legislative action has been taken in the Netherlands to prevent touts “profiteering” from resale.

The Dutch National Police Corps now lists GUTS as a safe platform to use for purchasing tickets.

Tickets for the Meeuwis shows go on sale through GUTS Tickets on 7 June at 10 a.m. local time.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Ticketing startup Festy lands blockchain investment

Cork, Ireland-based ticketing startup Festy has announced a partnership and investment deal with South Korean internet company Kakao, which will focus on the development of blockchain payment and analytics applications.

Launched in 2016, Festy initially allowed the storage of payments and ID data on music festival wristbands. The company has since evolved into a blockchain ticketing and payments mechanism for retailers, festivals and conferences, using a distributed ledger to record transactions.

The company has partnered with Ground X, a subsidiary of South Korean internet conglomerate Kakao. Ground X is building a blockchain platform called Klaytn for developing services on top of existing technology.

Festy’s ticketing system allows users to check in and out of clubs and other live event venues. This function is of particular interest to Kakao, says Festy founder Graham de Barra.

“It’s really good for organisers to see the flow of people at their events and [with Festy] they have the auditable, real-time ability to see it on a chain,” comments de Barra.

“We can allow a more transparent system for these transactions, where the consumer can get remunerated for contributing towards big data”

The system will also enhance privacy, allowing the festivalgoer more control over the data that is collected about them.

“We can allow a more transparent system for these transactions, where the consumer can get remunerated for contributing towards the big data that’s being built around them. The more they enrich it, the more they can earn – or they can totally opt out,” says de Barra.

The company hopes to launch Festy on the Klaytn platform in July.

Other blockchain ticketers include Blockparty, led by former NME executive Shiv Madan, Tari headed by Ticketfly co-founder Dan Teree, Crypto.tickets, Aventus and Ticketmaster-owned Upgraded.

Dutch blockchain ticketing service GUTS Tickets currently holds the record for the largest-ever blockchain ticketing sale. The company recently beat its previous record to sell around 50,000 tickets in two hours. The fraud- and tout-proof service uses GET Protocol to track tickets and distribute unique, non-duplicable e-tickets.

How the worlds of ticketing and blockchain intersect

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free digest of essential live music industry news, via email or Messenger.

GUTS Tickets: Use dynamic pricing to raise funds for charity

Dutch blockchain ticketer GUTS Tickets has come up with a novel use case for its dynamic pricing solution: curing cancer.

In a blog post entitled Sell tickets — cure cancer (Or save the world in a different way), GUTS community manager Olivier Biggs posits that dynamically pricing tickets – the practice, common in the hospitality and travel sectors, of allowing prices to fluctuate based on market demand – could generate additional revenue for humanitarian projects, such as cancer research or “clean[ing] up the ocean”.

“Say that your tickets are normally priced at $50,” Biggs writes. “Using this dynamic system on (a selection of) your tickets, this will now become the minimum price and some tickets will now be bought for $60, others maybe even for $5,000. All of the intake above the $50 threshold will go to a charity of your choice, instead of going into the pockets of scalpers and frauds.

“This approach of dynamic pricing can be applied to all of the tickets up for sale, or to a certain section of the venue, or, if you prefer, to just a single seat in the front row.

“Your fans are fully aware about where their money is going if they choose to buy a dynamic ticket, along with what good their money is going to be doing.”

Several major ticket agencies are already experimenting with dynamic pricing for certain tickets – most prominently Ticketmaster with its Platinum passes, and more recently Ticket Pia in Japan.

“Dynamic pricing will ensure that the sweet spot where supply and demand meet is found”

Ticketmaster’s Platinum system was notably used for Taylor Swift’s Reputation stadium run – which recently became the highest-grossing concert tour in American history – as part of a broader ‘slow ticketing’ trend that places less of an emphasis on instant sell-outs and more on pricing tickets correctly.

While dynamic pricing is not without controversy – critics claim it amounts to gouging fans in the same way as touts, while some artists say they’re happy to leave ‘money on the table’ in order to keep ticket prices low – GUTS says donating the extra revenue to charity is the best of both worlds.

“Dynamic pricing will ensure that the sweet spot where supply and demand meet is found, and every seat in the house is filled,” continues Biggs.

“Instead of simply neutralising the inhumane threat of scalping, we turn it into a positive chain of events that helps others.”

Amsterdam-based GUTS held its first major onsale last September, selling 50,000 tickets on the blockchain for 36 shows by comedian Jochem Myjer.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.