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Ticketmaster Joins the Club

The fan club business, that is. As Reuters reported this week, Ticketmaster bought a majority stake in echomusic, a music marketing outfit in Nashville. It sounds like echomusic will soon be doing for Ticketmaster what Musictoday (profiled in the Feb issue of FC) is doing for Live Nation. Operating paid online fan communities. Selling concert tickets and merchandise from artist sites directly to fans. Finding creative ways to nurture that artist-fan relationship.

Ticketmaster’s core business may be selling tickets, but like Live Nation, it recognizes that in order to survive it has to explore new services and sources of revenue, including ones it once considered threatening. Several years ago, when an upstart named Musictoday encouraged artists to sell tickets directly to fans, a shortcut perfected by the Grateful Dead, the ticketing giant resisted. That was then. Now, as David Marcus, Ticketmaster’s vice president of music, told me, “We are a big believer in the value of online fan clubs.”

Even more so with a stake in echomusic. In addition to letting artists sell 10 percent of tickets through industry leader Musictoday, Ticketmaster can sell as many tickets as it wants through its echomusic clubs, without losing any fees. It can also allow club members to resell tickets, a service that Ticketmaster added last year to stave off competition from the likes of eBay and StubHub. Smart move.

It’s too soon to know how the deal will affect the industry’s most anticipated face-off between the largest concert promoter and the largest ticket seller. The Live Nation-Ticketmaster contract expires next year. But it’s safe to say this makes the negotiations even more interesting.

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