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“The timing couldn’t be better”: Ticketfly founder Dan Teree launches Big Neon

Ticketing industry veteran Dan Teree – the former president of TicketWeb and co-founder of Ticketfly – today announced the launch of Big Neon, a blockchain ticketing company with a difference: the hundreds of thousands of tickets, worth millions of dollars, it already has under contract.

Staffed by what Teree calls “the best of the best from the former Ticketfly crew”, including former director of business development Ryan O’Connor, the mobile-first platform plans to use the Tari blockchain protocol to manage the sale and resale of tickets to help its partner promoters maximise revenues.

First announced in May, Tari is built on the Monero blockchain and specialises in ‘digital assets’, such as tickets, loyalty points and virtual goods. The open-source protocol’s chief contributor to date is Tari Labs, a company founded by Teree, angel investor Naveen Jain and Monero lead maintainer Riccardo ‘Fluffypony’ Spagni.

With Eventbrite’s recent announcement that the Ticketfly brand is to be retired to make way for Eventbrite Music, and the continuing popularity of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, “the timing couldn’t be better” to launch Big Neon, Teree tells IQ.

Teree’s pitch to Big Neon’s launch partners – many of which were formerly served by his old companies – was, “‘You will be in good hands with Big Neon, as we are solely focused on you – the independent music promoter – so every feature we build will be to help your business,’” Teree explains.

As with other blockchain-based ticketing providers, Big Neon touts (pun intended) its eventual ability to easily and securely restrict unwanted resale, allowing promoters to “recapture revenues that are currently lost to the secondary market”, he continues.

Where the new company diverges from other start-ups in the space, Teree suggests, is in the wealth of established live music/ticketing industry experience behind it. When pitching to clients, “the blockchain aspect is secondary” to what Big Neon can actually achieve for them, Teree explains. “My data is on an SQL database, but I don’t go around talking about MySQL all the time – it’s the same with Big Neon.

“For some people, blockchain is just a pump machine”

“For some people, [blockchain is] just a pump machine – with lots of these upstarts it’s like, ‘Who are you? I’m not quite sure you’re familiar with how the live music industry works.’

“But we have real clients who put on huge shows with thousands of fans. And given our experience, they trust that we understand their needs and will deliver the goods.”

Those clients – initially at least – are mid-sized venues in North America, ranging from 300-capacity clubs to 8,000-capacity ballrooms. Around 300,000 tickets are already under contract, says Teree, with the company having signed several “multi-year, multimillion-dollar exclusive ticketing contracts”.


Big Neon promoter dashboard


In the wake of the well-publicised hack of the Ticketfly system in June, as well as a similar breach at Ticketmaster International, Teree is also keen to stress the platform’s security advantages compared to more established ticketers.

“Weighed against some of the recent data breaches, one thing we’re emphasising is Big Neon’s open-source nature,” he explains. “Open-source code is inherently of a higher quality – developers know that when other people are going to be looking at their code, they need to be more conscious and careful – and security is job number one in a blockchain. It’s central to what we’re doing.”

Big Neon has “a team that does nothing but try to hack ourselves,” Teree continues. “We have to treat our software as if a person’s entire life savings are on it.”

“It’s not about upending the way the real world works; we’re just here to make our clients more money”

Big Neon as a company will generate revenue using the tried-and-tested model of levying a fee on each ticket sold. “It’s not about upending the way the real world works; we’re just here to make our clients more money,” Teree says. However, the open-source Tari network has more ambitious longer-term goals.

“We’re a protocol project as well,” says Teree. “Big Neon will be a great business, but over time we also hope other big ticketing players will adopt Big Neon’s open-source tools and the forthcoming Tari blockchain so their ticketing clients can benefit from a blockchain-enabled ticketing system. Our goal is to make Tari so useful that people can’t afford not to use it.”

“In several years’ time,” he adds, we hope Tari “not only will be supporting the ticketing industry, but other digital asset-related industries as well, such as virtual goods in video gaming.”

Back in the present day, however, Teree is fully focused on Big Neon, after around six months of operating in “stealth mode”. The ability to use blockchain to control and monetise the secondary market for the benefit of independent promoters is, he says, “from my vantage, the biggest innovation in the ticketing industry since the first ticket was sold online.

Will Eastman of Washington DC’s Blisspop Productions, owner of the U Street Music Hall (500-cap.), is an early Big Neon convert. He comments: “We decided to join Big Neon because of the founding team’s proven track record and their intense focus on building an entirely mobile and modern experience for patrons. Being a part of bringing blockchain-based ticketing to life makes me feel like we’re part of history in the making.”

“I haven’t been happy with my ticketing company for quite a while,” adds Jeff Whitmore, founder of the 800-cap. Public Works venue in San Francisco. “From what I’ve seen so far, I’m pretty damn confident the Big Neon team will deliver more innovation and genuine customer service in their first year than the other ticketing companies have in the last decade. With Big Neon, I feel that I’ve got a voice that is actually listened to.

“And let’s face it, the industry can use a good swift kick in the ass. My money is on Big Neon to provide that kick.”


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Blockchain ticketers welcome Ticketmaster’s Upgrade

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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Two new ticketers join the blockchain party

The co-founder of Ticketfly and a former NME exec are among the latest music biz figures to throw their hats into the ring of the increasingly congested blockchain ticketing sector.

Blockparty is led by Shiv Madan, formerly of NME.com, eBay, Lehman Brothers and wearable data start-up Ability, and launched at leading blockchain/cryptocurrency conference Consensus earlier this month. It aims to use the blockchain – a distributed ledger which permanently stores all transactions – to eliminate problems in ticketing, including fraud and bulk-buying by bots.

Madan comments: “Eventgoers are rightfully frustrated with the current landscape of the ticket purchasing experience. We’ve all been there: after spending months saving up for a ticket to a concert or sports match, you furiously type in a captcha on a ticketing site, desperate to get great seats – only to find out that all tickets are sold out and have magically re-appeared, within minutes, on a reseller site for five times the original price.

“With Blockparty, we’re reshaping the event ticketing industry to improve the purchasing experience, eliminate reseller exploitation and give power back to the people.”

The Blockparty mobile app will beta-launch at Elements Lakewood Music Festival in Pennsylvania this weekend (25–27 May).

“With Blockparty, we’re reshaping the event ticketing industry”

Also new to the blockchain party is Tari, the brainchild of Ticketfly co-founder Dan Teree, angel investor Naveen Jain and Riccardo ‘Fluffypony’ Spagni, the lead maintainer of privacy-orientated cryptocurrency Monero.

According to Fortune, Tari-issued tickets will be “tracked and logged on a new, to-be-developed blockchain, also called Tari, complete with its own native, as-yet-unreleased cryptocurrency, dubbed ‘Tari tokens’. The team also aspires to create a marketplace beyond tickets to cover all sorts of digital goods, including loyalty points, virtual currencies and in-game items.

During Consensus COO Teree told the magazine that 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.

Other ticketing platforms building their infrastructure on blockchain technology include Crypto.tickets, Aventus, Guts Tickets, China’s Baidu and the recently launched BitTicket by Citizen Ticket.

For a primer on blockchain and how it can be effectively utilised for ticket sales, see IQ’s recent primer, written by Lyubomyr Nykyforuk of Softjourn:

How the worlds of ticketing and blockchain intersect


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