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By Ryan Borba
It doesn’t take long when speaking with See Tickets’ Chris Donohue to learn he’s passionate. The seasoned ticketing exec is a firm believer in the independent music space and not just because his company works largely with festivals and events of the indie variety.
“A healthy independent ecosystem isn’t just music venues. It’s independent artists, it’s independent talent agencies — it’s all these organizations that do a lot of the hard work developing talent,” said Donohue, noting the importance of creating the business’s next headliners. “Do I hope that more (indie organizations) come from this (pandemic) and flourish? Absolutely. Whether or not it directly affects ticketing doesn’t matter so much to me. It’s looking at the entire market.”
The company, a subsidiary of France-based conglomerate Vivendi, put its money where its mouth is as the pandemic hit, reaching out to what would later become the National Independent Venue Association.
“One of our unique attributes at this time is financial resources. We saw that as a very specific opportunity to help preserve the ecosystem,” said Donohue, adding that without NIVA’s numerous venue members, there is no See Tickets. “Right now we’re focused on preservation, but we were the first company to step up and raise our hands, before NIVA even became formal, and made a financial commitment to help get it off the ground.”
With many in the ticketing business furloughed or waiting out the pandemic, Donohue is actively trying to help anyone displaced or looking for work, supporting colleagues and friends however possible. See Tickets is also staying active in its core business, with the occasional strong onsale during the pandemic.
“We were fortunate enough to partner with Baja Beach Fest, which has been a lights-out success,” Donohue said of the Latin music megafest that has expanded to two weekends and sold out instantly for 2020. “In a healthy market, that would have been a great onsale. But in this market it’s like a dream come true. To me it indicates obviously incredible consumer demand as well as just hope for the future, right? If that’s what we all have to look forward to, there’s going to be something to come back to. And I think that’s very important.”