Ticketmaster Has a Plan to Get Rid of Tickets

Courtesy of Barron’s:

By switching to a new kind of e-ticket, Ticketmaster can cut down on lines while learning a lot more about its event goers.

Nobody likes to wait in line for an event, so Ticketmaster’s new plan for electronic ticketing is a win for concert-goers and sports fans. But the real beneficiary of the switch is still likely to be Ticketmaster itself, and its parent company Live Nation.

At a Goldman Sachs investor conference Thursday, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino spent some time talking about Presence, the company’s new way of speeding up entry for events booked through its Ticketmaster platform. “The barcode’s going to go away,” he said. Ticket buyers will receive either a barcode-less e-ticket or a barcode-less physical ticket embedded with a special chip. Instead of scanning your barcode with a gate agent, you’ll tap your phone or e-ticket at a terminal.

The Presence system makes lines go quicker, and it also prevents fraud, since scammers will have a harder time creating counterfeit versions of these new tickets. That’s good news for all.

Of course, a new ticketing system will have a limited effect on the real source of lines: security checks.

In that sense, Ticketmaster is probably the key beneficiary of its own plan. Right now, if you buy three tickets to a concert with your credit card, the company only knows that you’ll be attending the show. It wants to know who those other two people are. With Presence, you’ll have to send your guests their tickets in order to display them on their own smartphones. “When you send those two tickets to your sister and brother, we can capture that data,” Rapino said. Presumably Live Nation could then reach out to these fans the next time their favorite artist goes on tour.

Rapino added that an end to barcodes will give the company and the “content,” a.k.a. the artist or sports team holding the event, more control over what actually happens to each ticket sold. The “content,” he said, can decide whether you’re actually able to resell a ticket you bought through the platform, or how much you can resell it for. That benefits both Live Nation and the artist, who both lose when Ticketmaster tickets are resold on secondary ticketing platforms like Stubhub.

Big Picture: The end of traditional tickets comes with benefits like shorter lines for consumers, but it also means that Ticketmaster will learn more about its customers.