Pop The Cork: Former WMG Tech Chief Joins BigChampagne, Ticketmaster

On the heels of Live Nation's acquisition of BigChampagne, the consumer data analytics firm, the ticket seller is set to make yet another high-profile pickup: Ethan Kaplan, Warner Music Group's former SVP of emerging technology, will soon join the company. Together with BigChampagne founder Eric Garland, the two will help redefine Live Nation and Ticketmaster's business through big data.

"We're extending what we know about people, relevant experiences—in this case, live events—and proximity for things happening near by you, and we're going to apply our real-time analytics engine to solving those fan problems," Garland says. "Right now we're on the hunt for superstar talent in the product areas, and my first superstar is Ethan Kaplan, who looks like a walking Eric Ries book in black rim glasses."

Data is becoming a new source of revenue for Live Nation and Ticketmaster, as Fast Company found in our July profile of "the most hated brand in America." The company recently launched LiveAnalytics, an independent team tasked with combing through the data on 200 million of its previous customers and the 26 million monthly visitors to Live Nation's sites. Big Champagne will help toward this end.

Though Garland couldn't go into too much detail about his product roadmap, he did say to expect integration with the company's Ultimate Chart, a music ranking system that charts artists based on updated metrics—views on Vevo, Facebook fans, streams—rather than outmoded sales figures. Garland says the chart could be expanded to fit Ticketmaster's scope. "I've been talking internally about the Ultimate Media Chart," he says, implying the service could include content outside of music. "In essence, we're going to use what we know, which is a lot about these fans, and create a much more compelling and engaging experience around live events."

Expect BigChampagne's data analytics to also play into the company's dynamic pricing engine. "Cross-integrating all these points of transactional data and consumer insights is all under our umbrella—it's part of our mandate," Garland says.

But for now, Garland is most excited that big data is finally getting its due. He's been pushing the entertainment industry to take advantage of online data for more than a decade, long before the industry caught up with iTunes, Spotify, and Pandora.

"When Napster happened, I said this isn't about stealing music—it's about big data," Garland recalls. "It's about accessing people and connecting them with the things they like."  

[Image: Flickr user Brent Schneeman]

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