TICKETS PLEASE: Jed Weitzman, head of music for Logitix, left, moderated the panel, “The Venue’s Role in Fair & Equitable Ticketing Solutions. Ticketmaster COO Michael Wichser, tour marketing executive Michele Bernstein and Josephine Vaccarello, Madison Square Garden’s EVP of Live, participated in the session.

Smart Queue, Face Value Exchange Among TM solutions, but friction is the cost

The goal of every venue and team is to get their tickets directly into the hands of the consumer through the primary market, which means staying ahead of the curve through technology, according to a panel of ticketing experts kicking off the 2023 VenuesNow Conference.

Tour marketing executive Michele Bernstein, Ticketmaster COO Michael Wichser and Josephine Vaccarello, Madison Square Garden’s EVP of Live, participated in the session, “The Venue’s Role in Fair & Equitable Ticketing Solutions. Jed Weitzman, head of music for Logitix, moderated the panel.

Keeping in mind fans come first, the artist must be consulted first as part of the process for putting tickets on sale for events and using high-tech gadgets to help combat scalpers and bots on the secondary market, panelists said.

Some artists care about that piece of the business; some do not, Bernstein said.

“It’s really about giving the artists optionality at the onsale,” Wichser said.

“We’ve developed a product suite that’s ever evolving. The key thing here people like Michele and JoJo, and ultimately with the artist.”

For Ticketmaster, tools such as Smart Queue, the firm’s “virtual client” that allows it to strategically conduct onsales with fan (presale) registration campaigns and work with artists to get a list of costumes that intend to attend a show at the venue.

“That gives us insight over time into who’s a human vs. a bot and helps us tilt the scales in favor of fans getting tickets (over) the expensive scalpers and bots,” Wichser said. “We also have on the other extreme a program called Face Value Exchange, which we’ve done in partnership with groups like Pearl Jam. It helps to ensure that, if it’s right for the artist, we ensure that every ticket gets delivered to the fan at a price that the artist set Tis.”

In addition, Ticketmaster has a suite of market pricing tools to help optimize pricing strategies for the artist.

“You’re only going to see more innovation along this path in the next few years,” he said.

Social media has grown to become a key factor in developing those pricing strategies, Bernstein said.

“Five years ago, I never counseled a client on how to answer people sliding into their (direct messages); now, this happens all the time,” she said. “We have to remember that fans can communicate directly with the artist that they could never do before. Artists spend a lot of time on social media, listening and communicating. For me, it’s a puzzle of solutions to what they want to accomplish, and you build accordingly.”

Every market is different in terms of the laws tied to ticketing operations, but bottom line, the technology can’t be so disruptive that it doesn’t work properly, Vaccarello said.

“When that happens, it’s inevitable that it goes haywire and you have chaos,” she said. “It has to be functional in your setting those things (critical to the artist) to happen.”

On the other hand, with functionality comes greater complexity to make those things happen, which increases the amount of friction for fans trying to buy tickets, Wichser said.

He said, “We always try to balance these points between how many security measures do we have to put in place to increase the chances of fans getting tickets, relative to how many friction points are reasonable for the fans simply trying to get online and buy tickets to see the artist.”


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