Event ticket sales is no joke. The market makes up for 70% of sports revenue and up to 60% of music and film revenue. Events, big or small, bring people together. We are social beings and we really like to get close to each other and enjoy life together. Throughout the ages people have gathered around gladiators and actors, in ancient Rome. They cheered for their favorite knights during the Middle Ages and now – everything’s available. Even Justin Bieber.
As the world grew smaller, we now can quickly join a local tweet meet or buy tickets to Madonna’s concert or the Superbowl. With so many events and so little time a few companies evolved into (sometimes) friendly electronic helpers. Tickets are bought online and three models have evolved to cater to our needs.
Throughout this entertaining and information packed ebook you’ll find out which are these three proven and dominant business models. You’ll get an idea of how big the market is, who are the main players and how did they make it to the spotlight. You’ll also get a graphical understanding of business models, information related to revenue and funding. Let’s first have a look at the market.
Ticket sales provide the financial backbone to any company in the event organizing and management business. In 2013 the top 100 movies grossed approximately $10 billion, Madonna’s 2012 MDNA tour alone grossed $305 million and another $75 million in merchandise sales, making her the highest paid musician. The NFL brings in an annual revenue of $9.5 billion (second in line is baseball, with “just” $7 billion in 2012).
Ticket sales generate roughly 60 to 70% of any given sports revenue, and 40 to 60 % for the music and film industry. The rest is split between sponsorships, endorsements and merchandise, but these too are dependent on ticket sales figures, a clear indicator of popularity and reach.
Ticket sales have been transformed, like any other industry, by the internet and several business models appeared during the dot.com boom. Only three survived and thrived. Let’s have a look at these models and the companies that used them to dominate the ticket sales market, starting with number 1: the ticket retailer.
The ticket retailer
Much like a conventional goods retailer, the ticket retailer is the middleman between event organizers and event attendees. Ticket retailers buy bulk and sale “en detail”. The industry sports an wide variety of competitors: there’s Ticketmaster and …. errr … well that’s pretty much it, as Ticketmaster is the biggest company on the market and virtually a monopoly.
There are of course smaller companies but the big venues are sold through Ticketmaster or Ticketmaster satellite companies such as GetMeIn or TicketsNow. If you do intend to take on Ticketmaster, as the new ticket retailer on the market, here’s what you need to consider:
The components of a ticket retail business
The main things you need to consider are:
ticket partners / suppliers: think supply. Although Ticketmaster has it all covered up as the parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, “owns” roughly 200 artists (such as Jay-Z, Madonna, U2), you’ll need your tickets. Start thinking about brushing shoulders with concert organizers, sports managers and such. These people will be those supplying you with the product: tickets.
a ticket shop: once you get a hold on those tickets, you’ll need to sell them. Much like a ticket – like Amazon, you need a shop where people can register and buy tickets
ticket outlets: if you’re really going to go against the big boys, think about this – Ticketmaster has a wide network of ticket outlets that lets it quickly distribute tickets offline, as well as online
fulfillment centers: just like other products, tickets need to be packaged and sent to customers. Each of these fulfillment centers needs to be equipped with printing machines that handle needed security.
the market: people will only buy from you if they know you exist and as such you’ll need to think about investing in marketing and advertising.
Long gone are the days people would wait in line to buy tickets. Conferences, plays, movies, sports events – they all have one thing in common – the business model implies selling tickets and organising the event. With innovative solutions event managers and venue owners can now leverage the power of cloud solutions, CRMs, mobile apps and a bunch of other buzzwords.
In this post you’ll get a look at the champion and the challengers. The market is split between marketplaces (such as StubHub), ticket retailers (some of which are rather large – see Ticketmaster) and solutions providers, such as Xing Events.
Let’s start with number 5 and count down to the king of the hill:
Oveit is an innovative take on ticket sales and event management. It is feature packed and allows event planners to publish events and sell tickets on their own website.
By using an embedded technology, Oveit allows event organizers to work with a fully functional ticketing and event management app in minutes, right on their website. Some of its features are:
simple event setup and implementation – copy-paste implementation or click to publish to Facebook
direct payments (connecting a PayPal account allows event organizers to receiving payments instantly)
free service for free events
customized registration forms
interactive badge design application
multiple options packed in one ticket (entry, beverages, tshirts – you name it)
Tickets are automatically issued on purchase and they are scanned using mobile apps (so no need for costly scanners). One particular piece of technology is what Oveit calls multiple access. It makes it simple to sell multi-day tickets, pack multiple perks and synchronize data between mobile scanning apps.
Oveit key takeaways
Oveit allows event planners to install ticket sales on their own websites or Facebook pages by just copy-ing and pasting an embed code
Payments flow from attendee to the organizers. No interruption needed, right?
It packs all the right tools in one simple to use interface
Though still a startup, it is the best choice on this list for mid-sized event organizers. By the way – creating a free account takes around 5 seconds.
4. Xing Events (Former Amiando)
The company formerly known as Amiando was purchased in 2010 by Xing. Later on it was rebranded Xing Events. It’s worth mentioning that it was probably not a great exit for the company. Rumor has it that the €10 million paid for Amiando was not at all satisfying for early investors. Then again the company seems to be doing great in the last three years since the purchase.
Xing itself is not an overly popular company. It is a competitor to LinkedIn and that is a tough spot to be in. Being a german company they are doing pretty well in Germany. Zee Germans make up for 76% of Xing’s traffic. 90% of it’s traffic comes from german speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland).
It seems the joint venture took the best of worlds. In the last three years since the acquisitions, Xing, the social network, has been providing less value to Amiando than Amiando has been providing to Xing. Some fairly popular conferences organize their events and ticket sales using Amiando /Xing Events. One of them is Le Web, probably the most popular tech conference in Europe.
Xing Events’ best features are its integrated ticket sales / mobile app / entry management solution. It allows its users to create event websites, customized ticket shops and process payments.
The product is now an end-to-end solution for event management and ticket sales and it’s growing fast, allowing Xing to expand its presence outside Europe.
Amiando Key Takeaways
Amiando was purchased by Xing in 2010 and has been growing steadily
It is now an end-to-end solution for event planning and ticket sales
The company acts as a payment processor / collector for ticket sales and charges a standard fee of approximately €1 / visitor + ~6% of ticket cost (registration fee + payment processing fee)
StubHub, now a subsidiary of Ebay, is the world’s largest marketplace for secondary market tickets. It was founded in 2000 by Eric Baker and Jeff Fluhr, former investment bankers.
From the largest ticket marketplace in the US it quickly grew into world’s largest ticket marketplace, now serving US, UK and Canada. It is now the go to place for anyone looking into selling and buying tickets for sports events , concerts, theater and entertainment events.
After being featured in 2006 in Fortune 500’s fastest growing companies, StubHub was quickly purchased by Ebay for a reported $310 million . The company has now over 1250 employees and it’s expanding its operations quickly to keep up with growth. The mothership, Ebay, is actually forwarding ticket sellers to StubHub, in an effort to consolidate the market.
Interestingly, on of StubHub’s competitor, Viagogo, a company that has so far raised $65 million, was founded in 2005 by Eric Baker. Sounds familiar? It should. He’s one of the two guys that founded StubHub.
StubHub Key Takeaways
StubHub is the largest ticket marketplace for sports events, theaters, concerts and entertainment events
It was founded in 2000 and acquired in 2007 by Ebay for $310 million
It’s present in the US, UK and Canada
Eventbrite is a self-service platform for managing and marketing events, selling tickets promoting events across social networks. It allows event managers to promote events and attendees to find these events and buy tickets.
The company was founded by Kevin Hartz and Julia Hartz back in 2006. Legend has it that after the two got engaged (notice the “Hartz”?) Julia moved to the Bay Area and helped setup the company . The platform was developed by Renaud Visage, current CTO and third co-founder. At the time the company was just a startup, Renaud was the only developer so for one year he developed, designed and maintained the platform.
Years later Renaud is still the CTO of Eventbrite. He is generous enough to provide those in the lookout for a roadmap to an $1billion company. Technically speaking. Here it is bellow:
In 2013 the company reported a total of $2 billion in total ticket sales, with $500 millions in the last 6 months. The company actually sold more in the past 6 months than it did in its first five years.
How did that happen – how could such a growth happen so fast? Two words: global expansion. Eventbrite started in the US but it’s now available in 7 languages and used in 179 countries.
“We… are ready to put even more power into our global presence” said Julia Hartz – Eventbrite President
Eventbrite has also acquired some companies on its way to the big payday (expect something big with this company). Eventioz and London-based Lanyrd were both acquired in 2013, after Eventbrite secured a $60 million investment, led by Tiger Investment Global. The reason? Same as above – Global Expansion. Both companies listed above are doing great in the global presence department. Eventioz is an event planning and ticket sales leader in South-America. Lanyrd is a great resource for anyone looking into adding small and medium events such as “conferences, workshops, unconferences, evening events with talks, conventions, trade shows and so forth“.
Eventbrite Key Takeaways
Eventbrite is now the fastest growing mid-size events management platform
Its growth has been vastly accelerated in the past year
25% of its total sales up to date happened in the last 6 months
Given the new investment, its fast growth and global expansion – expect something big coming up in 2014-2015. My bets are on an IPO/large acquisition deal. Maybe even trying to take on …
1. The King of the Ticket Hill: Ticketmaster
Ticketmaster is the granddaddy of all ticket sales and event marketing companies. It’s been founded in … get this … 1976. It’s the oldest and biggest company on the list. It has paid $388million for its three latest acquisitions, Front Line Management, SLO Ltd and Ticketsnow . That figure is 2.7 times bigger than Eventbrite’s total funding to date ($140million).
The company is the king of the hill when it comes to ticket sales for concerts. In 2010 it merged with Live Nation to create Live Nation Entertainment. Maybe you haven’t heard about the company but you’ve definitely heard about its operations. Besides its creepy “One nation under music” tagline, the company sports some of the most popular artists in the world.
The company manages artists, merchandise, tours and ticket sales for a bunch of artists you may have heard of: Jay-Z, Madonna, Beatles, U2, Justin Timberlake and more. Among them – this year’s media sensation: Miley Cyrus.
On the company board sits mr. Greg Maffei, a seemingly not very important person, as he seems not worthy enough for his own Wikipedia page. He is, however, worthy of being the chairman of Live Nation Entertainment AND president of Liberty Media. Just as with LNE – you might not be very familiar with the company – but you do know its subsidiaries. Among them: Associated Press, Barnes & Noble, Time Warner, Viacom and others. Mr. Maffei seems to also be a pretty hard working guy: In 2012 he was the 3rd best payed executive in the US Media ($391mill). You may want to have a look at his payment sources (see previous link).
So that’s where Ticketmaster hangs around. With the big guys. It has the backing it needs, it has its ticket sales outlets, it has two fulfilment centers in Texas and West Virginia. It has it all. So much that in 1995 Perl Jam accused Ticketmaster of excersing “a monopoly over ticket distribution and used its market power to gouge consumers with excessive service fees.“ [see source]. The Justice Department, of course, cracked down on Ticketmaster’s unlawfully practices … oh wait… it didn’t.
The Justice Department abruptly dropped the investigation without further notice. Of course that was a great decision for Ticketmaster. At the time the JD had its Antitrust resources stretched thin as it was investigating another company – Microsoft. Guess who owned 80% of Ticketmaster at the time? Well if it wasn’t Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Ticketmaster is still the leader after a not so glorious past. Its practices are often frowned upon. Scratch that – Ticketmaster is actually one of the most hated companies in the US, its competitors are catching up and the company hadn’t had a stellar year in 2013. The company is a leader in its field. A hated, feared, sieged leader and it is a matter of time until it loses supremacy.
Ticketmaster is the largest company in ticketing and event management
It’s part of a very large conglomerate of businesses
It has a shady past and a gloomy future
Competitors will soon catch up
So these are the top 5 ticket sales and event management companies. There are, of course, others out there but this is a pretty good place to start if you want to get an understanding of ticket sales and event management industry.