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The Associates: Impala, Intix, Live DMA

Covid-19 has impacted every business sector around the world, but with live entertainment likely to be one of the last industries to return, given social distancing regulations, the associations that represent its millions of employees have never been more important.

As restrictions in many countries enter yet another month, for issue 91 IQ found out more about some of our association partners and discovered just what they are doing to help their members navigate and survive.

Following the last instalment with the European Arenas Association, FAC and Iceland Music, this time we check in with Impala, the International Ticketing Association and Live DMA.


Impala (Europe)
Impala, the Independent Music Companies Association, represents music companies across Europe, most of which are micro, small or medium-sized businesses (99% of the music industry in Europe is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] or are self-releasing artists).  Known as the “independents”, the companies represented by Impala are often the leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists.

Independents account for more than 80% of all new releases and 80% of the sector’s jobs. Currently, Impala has almost 5,000 members, comprising a mix of associations of independent companies and direct members. Membership fees start from €100 per year and increase to thousands of euros per annum for associations and larger companies.

As part of its pandemic work, Impala created a task force and a mapping tool to help address the effects of the crisis on the independent sector in Europe.

On 25 March, Impala task force published a crisis plan seeking urgent action at EU, national and sector level to try to secure a coordinated approach across Europe to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on the independent music sector. On 29 April, Impala also released a proposed ten-step roadmap that includes a timeline and which sets out financial and non-financial tools to help increase liquidity in the music and broader cultural industries.

Intix members can apply for a one-time $100 assistance award for whatever they may need, from groceries to help paying a bill

Intix
The International Ticketing Association (Intix) is a non-profit membership organisation that connects entertainment professionals with the “education, visionary thinking, innovation, tools and relationships they need to ignite and sustain success while delivering optimal customer experiences”.

More than 1,400 people attended the latest Intix conference in January 2020 in New York City. Intix members represent organisations from across the United States, Canada and 25 other countries.

Intix has stepped up as a community to do whatever it can to support live entertainment ticketing professionals and the industry during this global pandemic. Intix has opened and un-gated areas that were traditionally only available to its members, and has added a new pandemic resource page that is augmented daily to keep abreast of changing information; created an open forum for the sharing of information, ideas and resources; and holds a weekly virtual Wednesday Wisdom meeting that is open to all, for support, information and resource sharing.

Intix is at the forefront of US national and federal relief programmes, lending its voice and expertise to advocacy for the industry. It has also established the Intix Member COVID-19 Relief Fund, which has raised more than US$40,000 (€36,500). Current Intix members can apply for a one-time $100 (€91) assistance award for whatever they may need, from groceries or a prescription to help paying a bill.

Live DMA organises informal online meetings to allow members to share information on the challenges they are facing

Live DMA (Europe)
The Live DMA network spans 16 countries, with members that are typically national or regional associations representing the interests of live music venues, clubs and/or festivals. Live DMA also welcomes associate members, thus supporting the structure of regional and national associations in countries where the live music sector lacks a representative body. Membership fees range from €1,650–2,300 per year, while an associate membership is fixed at an annual €600.

During the pandemic, Live DMA has provided a range of support mechanisms for its members:

 


View the full Associates list in the digital edition of IQ 91. To keep on top of the latest live music industry news, features and insights, subscribe to IQ now


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.

Ticketing companies gear up for post-Covid-19 future

Ticket agencies and technology companies are preparing for the return of live entertainment by introducing new features and functionalities tailored to the post-Covid-19 world.

UK-headquartered See Tickets, which is also active in the US, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and, most recently, Switzerland, has developed a contactless access-control system that uses a standalone scanning point requiring no physical interaction from fans or staff.

Once the customer scans their ticket, venue staff can view the results from a distance, providing event organisers with “the safest possible way to manage entry”, says See.

Rob Wilmshurst, See Tickets’ global CEO, comments: “Like our clients, See are adapting to the challenges in the market and looking at safe ways to operate going forward. We’re already well equipped to build features like time-slot entry to limit event capacity, and our ‘zero-contact’ access control solution will complement this.”

Smaller venues and promoters will also be able to benefit from the technology via an upgrade to the See Tickets Access Control app that increases the range from which their device can scan tickets (when used with a stand).

“We are adapting to the challenges in the market and looking at safe ways to operate going forward”

Other companies offering contactless solutions include New York-based mobile computing firm Janam, whose GT1 device uses tap-and-go technology from Google and Apple to eliminate direct contact between fan and ticket-taker, and Texas’s SimpleTix, which is capitalising on the boom in drive-in concerts by providing its digital ticketing platform to venues experimenting with drive-in shows.

“With a viable vaccine for Covid-19 likely a minimum of 18 months away, we expect drive-in theatres to be big for at least the next two-to-three years,” says Lauren Javors, SimpleTix’s business development manager. “We look forward to being part of that growth.”

Down under, ticketing technology company Intix has developing a contact-tracing add-on for its platform that aims to help the Australian government with tracking the spread of the disease.

Alex Grant, the company’s CEO, explains: “We developed this add-on in the hopes that by assisting the government with contact tracing we may be able to cautiously help our customers open their doors and get events and gigs back up and running.”

“It’s clear that mass gatherings will not go ahead without some way to track who’s turning up in case they are later diagnosed with Covid-19,” Grant adds, explaining that the stems from the government’s own COVIDSafe App, which is intended to speed up contacting people exposed to coronavirus.

“This ticketing add-on we have developed should assist the government to reach more people”

“From what I understand, not everyone has downloaded the government app; however, this ticketing add-on we have developed should assist the government to reach more people.”

Festicket, meanwhile, is getting in on livestreaming, having announced the launch of Festicket Live, which gives promoters and artists the ability to host both free and ticketed live streams on YouTube or Vimeo.

The new platform allow artists or event organisers to set up their own customisable and unique streaming page, which will include the embedded live stream, webchat, links to social media profiles and the option to include a shop for donations, merchandise and more.

Festicket’s marketing director, Luis Sousa, says: “The past weeks and months have seen a dramatic shift to online streaming, with over 60% of our customers saying they had watched a live stream since the lockdown began.

“We see this trend continuing, and possibly even remaining once physical festivals and events begin to return. We therefore wanted to offer music fans a platform that allows them to engage with the artists and festivals they love, while also providing artists and promoters with a new revenue stream, considering the pressures the industry is currently under.”

 


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Authenticity, AR, facial recognition: The future of ticket tech

From methods of tackling fraud to improving the visitor experience, ticketing firms are exploring a variety of tools.

High on everyone’s minds is the rapid rise of mobile tickets – as frequently reported in the market profiles throughout ITY 2019. But this is just the start of a mobile-first paradigm shift.

“We’ve got a generation of new consumers coming through now and they don’t just expect their services to be on mobile, they expect them to be mobile first,” says industry veteran Steve Machin, global director of ticketing strategy and innovation at FanDragon. “People are buying tickets now who don’t ‘go online’ to do something, they just use their phone. This move to mobile will make the shift away from CDs look like a slow meander.”

Security is the top priority, says international ticketing consultant Tim Chambers. “Unfortunately, prevention of fraud costs time and resources and all too often organisations fail to plan for worst case, without any regard as to how to recover post-incident, and assume they’ll continue to get away without specialised focus.”

He adds: “Related to this is the issue of combatting automated bots that impact site availability (DDoS), on-sale queueing, event webpage reload, ticket purchase and other operational factors. Unfortunately, as an industry, too little has been done with shared expertise, best practice or market intel.”

Maureen Andersen, president and CEO of the International Ticketing Association (Intix), thinks ticket authenticity is a significant focus for companies when considering how new technology can help them.

“As an industry, too little has been done with shared expertise, best practice or market intel”

“Tickets delivered to your mobile is well established, but what will be more important in this matter is that the distribution is tied to your mobile, for example, by using a barcode that’s refreshed frequently. Ticketmaster has now released SafeTix, which is not unlike other technologies out there, but that the largest ticketing company in the world has done this shows how important authenticity is.”

Launched in May 2019, SafeTix uses a barcode that changes every few seconds, meaning it can’t be copied or screenshotted. Fans can transfer tickets to friends or family using mobile phone numbers or an email address. A new digital ticket is tied to the recipient’s account and phone, each time a ticket is transferred or sold, making the journey of each ticket visible to organisers.

Of course, knowing who all the attendees are provides venues and companies with a rich source of data – an opportunity to track what experiences are valuable to any given consumer.

Generation Z is more comfortable with being tracked in exchange for a fast service, says Andersen. “They know they leave a digital footprint, but they want information right in their hand and they want it immediately. They understand they’re being tracked and they’re okay with it because they get served options and they’re all about options.”

She points to statistics showing that in Las Vegas while 68% of visitors attend a show or event, two thirds of them decide what to see after their arrival, and 60% of event tickets are sold within 72 hours of event. “This is because people are waiting to look at all the options that are fed to them before they make a decision. They’re in the moment. It’s only the older generation that’s worried about being tracked.”

Nonetheless, we are moving towards a world where consumers will have more control over their data. That will affect not just the ticketing industry but all sectors of public-facing commerce, from the motor industry to travel.

“People are waiting to look at all the options that are fed to them before they make a decision”

“This means we will need to be able to deliver hyper-relevant services to individuals even when you don’t know who they are,” says Machin. “You’ll be tracking behaviour in an anonymised way. This is one of the benefits of blockchain.”

FanDragon’s ticket-wallet feature means while the person owning the wallet remains anonymous, their behaviour can be analysed. For example, if a wallet buys tickets every time a certain artist comes to their town, but suddenly stops, that sort of information might be interesting to the client. Similarly, if a wallet has 600 tickets in it, it’s a scalper.

“Tickets are no longer simply ‘a revocable licence to attend the event listed on the front,’ they are a personal communication hub,” says Machin. “Once you buy a ticket, you can have experiences, messaging or content delivered to your phone because the organiser knows you’re going and who you’re going with. It means the event experience can start much sooner. It’s a much deeper relationship but that requires greater responsibility not to impinge on people’s privacy and data.”

My face is my ticket
Using your face to unlock a smartphone has been commonplace since Apple launched FaceID in 2017 (other earlier phones used facial recognition but it could be easily hacked). But when Live Nation Entertainment invested in biometric company Blink Identity in 2018, the prospect of being able to walk into a venue without needing to get your phone or paper ticket out took a step closer to becoming reality.

Justin Burleigh, LN-owned Ticketmaster’s global chief product officer, says: “We didn’t want to have a database of millions of customers’ faces, so instead this technology uses the same mechanism as the facial recognition tech that unlocks many smartphones. By scanning a face and converting that information into code, it negates the need for storing images of people’s faces.

“Facial recognition will be able to create some really compelling experiences for backstage, or VIP personnel control. For example, if you’re carrying some beers and food it will mean you don’t have to reach into your pocket for your phone or ticket to gain access.”

“Facial recognition will be able to create some really compelling experiences for backstage, or VIP personnel control”

However, he adds, “We have a lot more to do in the lab before this gets rolled out. We want to get it right because we know if we get it wrong we won’t be given a second chance.”

It’s not just the world’s biggest ticketing company that’s interested in the technology. Former Ticketmaster CEO and later head of commerce at Twitter, Nathan Hubbard, recently announced a facial recognition-powered ticketing platform of his own, Rival. Its first client is Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, owner of Denver’s Pepsi Center (20,000-cap.), although migrating from AXS had some teething problems.

And while there may be what Machin calls some “ickiness” around the idea of facial recognition at music events at the moment, the technology’s use at airport security is commonplace. And as people become more comfortable with it in this context, that will smooth the path for its arrival in entertainment.

Enhanced real life
Augmented reality is becoming increasingly sophisticated and more common in live entertainment, so how will the ticketing industry respond to that? Andersen reckons the answer will be driven by how much consumers want to buy into these things and what they want to experience.

“Whereas a 50-year-old might want to come into a venue and sit down, buy a hot dog and watch the show, somebody younger wants to engage with technology that recognises them as an individual. You could be watching the game from your seat but also see it from the players’ perspective by looking at your device.”

Other examples include creating 3D virtual venue models that can be expanded using AR. This could mean being able to see a model of the venue before you go to a show and finding out where everything is, as well as seeing sponsorship activations, and even connecting it to a Facebook account to see where your friends are sitting. You could find out where the bar queues are shortest, or where to get your favourite pretzel.

“SafeTix is not unlike other technologies out there, but that the largest ticketing company in the world has done this shows how important authenticity is”

Looking forward
That’s the present situation. But what nascent tech or business models might we see in the near future?

Ticketmaster’s Burleigh says he is excited to see new hardware come online, such as more powerful NFC tech, which would mean people don’t have to take their phone out of their pockets to scan on entry. He would also like to see more powerful cashless opportunities across venues. Andersen suggests a subscription-based model could have potential in the future.

“Like a Netflix model, where you buy something today and have access to it later – for example, if you want to go to a big game or play-off you can get access to early booking because you’ve paid a subscription.”

It’s not without precedent. In the cinema industry, MoviePass allowed people to go see films for a monthly subscription fee. Currently, the venture is in difficulty as the company behind it struggles to control its cash burn. However, US cinema chains AMC Theatres and Cinemark are also running subscription models with some success. AMC’s programme, which allows customers to see three movies a week for $19.95 a month, has over 900,000 subscribers. Could that model be transferred to live? While it’s unlikely to work for the largest companies and artists, it could be more viable for grassroots-level venues and promoters.

Whatever the future holds for ticket tech, Chambers predicts that the fragmented nature of all the options means there will need to be open-API schemes to ensure that a seamless customer delivery service is provided: multiple backends but unified consumer experience.

“This is increasingly evident in [London’s] West End theatre or with the NFL ticket retail and distribution agreements, and will inevitably spread to other sectors and territories to become much more commonplace,” he says.

For more insight into the state of the global ticketing industry, read IQ’s International Ticketing Yearbook 2019.

 



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