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Pandora moves into ticketing via Ticketfly acquisition

By | Published on Thursday 8 October 2015


Pandora is getting into the ticketing game via a $450 million acquisition of Ticketfly, the US-based ticketing service set up in 2008 by one of the founders of Ticketmaster’s Ticketweb, Andrew Dreskin. So that’s a thing.

No, sorry, it’s a “game-changer for music”. I don’t know why I just said “thing”. And how do we know it’s a “game-changer for music”? Well because Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews said so. “This is a game-changer for Pandora – and much more importantly – a game-changer for music”, he said yesterday. And I always believe guys named Brian.

“Over the past ten years we have amassed the largest, most engaged audience in streaming music history”, he went on. “With Ticketfly, we will thrill music lovers and lift ticket sales for artists as the most effective marketplace for connecting music makers and fans”.

Of course, better integrating streaming music platforms with artists’ other online sales and marketing channels, whether it be downloads, CDs, vinyl, merch or tickets, or just social and other direct-to-fan platforms, has always seemed like a bloody obvious thing to do. And to be fair, most streaming services have dabbled in this space at one time or another, though so far with limited success.

A better tie up between streams and tickets in particular has been a talking point in recent months, with some other streaming platforms also thought to be plotting new functionality in this domain. For Pandora, the move into ticketing gives it another revenue stream alongside advertising and subscriptions. Although it is probably as much about trying to placate pesky music types who just won’t shut up about the royalties the market-leading US streaming service pays (and it’s never-ending attempts to keep royalty rates down).

Announcing its Ticketfly buy, Pandora said yesterday that bringing the two companies together would “solve the longstanding problem of event discovery by seamlessly connecting Pandora’s nearly 80 million monthly active music fans to events they’ll love – this will enable artists and promoters to sell out more shows and will strengthen the bond between artists and their fans”.

The potential for streaming platforms to deliver an uplift in ticket sales is more about data than anything else, in that the streamers know where people live and what music they listen to, so can help artists and promoters target their marketing, and maybe offer targeted deals where ticket sales are slow. Pandora has been busy expanding its data services of late as well, what with the Artist Marketing Platform and its Next Big Sound acquisition, and all these developments could now integrate nicely.

There are always logistical issues with such integration, mainly getting each artist’s various business partners to more closely collaborate, while Pandora going into the ticketing business itself might alienate promoters who have ticketing loyalties elsewhere. While all this might please the artists, it won’t necessarily warm relationships with the labels who want higher royalties, because they don’t customarily earn from live income. And although publishers do get royalties from live, ticket upselling isn’t likely to stop them wanting better royalties either.

But hey, before we all get down on things, let’s let the aforementioned Dreskin have has his glory-moment quote: “Pandora’s entry into live events is a watershed moment for the music industry and will forever change the landscape for artists, promoters and fans. Ticketfly and Pandora are a perfect fit: two companies that are extraordinarily passionate about music and improving the experience for the entire ecosystem. The combination of Ticketfly and Pandora will be a marketing and event discovery powerhouse, giving venues and promoters unprecedented access to a massive and targeted audience of nearly 80 million music fans”.