November 16, 2016:Spotify doubles down on ticketing with emails and Ticketmaster integration

Spotify doubles down on ticketing with emails and Ticketmaster integration

Spotify is doubling down on its ticketing features, with plans to email concert recommendations to its users based on their listening habits, as well as a new partnership with Ticketmaster.

The company is pitching the moves to artists as a way to generate more ticket sales from their streaming fanbases.

“Since concerts continue to be a key revenue stream for most artists, we’ve been applying our fan understanding and recommendation technology – the same ones that power experiences like Discover Weekly – to help drive additional touring revenue for artists,” it claimed on its Spotify Artists blog.

Spotify says it will now start emailing gig recommendations to fans “in most markets” using the same data it’s been using to recommend concerts within its app based on the artists that a user follows.

“By increasing the reach and putting recommendations directly in millions of fans’ inboxes, we think we can do much more,” claimed the company, while encouraging artists to drive more fans to follow their profiles on Spotify. Users can opt in for early access to the emails.

The Ticketmaster partnership comes as a surprise, given Spotify’s historically close relationship with Songkick to provide concert listings within its service.

“Starting this week, we’ll be integrating their concert listings into artist pages, the recommended concerts feature, and our emails,” said Spotify of the Ticketmaster deal.

“Ticketmaster’s global scale provides Spotify users with the most diverse options for live events and will help drive more fans to concerts. Working directly with the Ticketmaster team and their data feeds will simplify the purchase experience and deepen our understanding of how recommendations drive sales.”

From the blog post: “We’ll continue partnering with Songkick for concerts that aren’t being sold via Ticketmaster. Through Songkick’s comprehensive database of shows, we’ll ensure that every date — no matter who you ticket through — is listed and can be recommended to fans around the world.”

This could be perceived as a significant setback for Songkick, although in truth, the company’s business has been pivoting more towards its work with managers and promoters to run pre-sales and sell tickets for tours directly to their fanbases.

That’s the CrowdSurge side of the company rather than the gig recommendations aspect of the original Songkick – the two firms merged in June 2015. In that sense, then, taking second billing to Ticketmaster on Spotify’s platform may not be as much of a blow as it seems.

(Another angle on this: Songkick raised $15m of funding from Access Industries in August, shortly after Access also took a controlling interest in Spotify’s rival Deezer. However, seeing this as a prime cause of Spotify’s Ticketmaster deal seems a big leap: not least because Spotify is still working with Songkick.)

In some parts of the world, notably the UK, Ticketmaster has been fielding criticism for its involvement in the secondary ticketing market, through its GetMeIn and Seatwave subsidiaries. Could Spotify’s partnership expose the streaming service to some of the anti-secondary anger too?

Music Ally asked Spotify, and received this response from its spokesperson. “Our goal here is to sell primary tickets.  We are linking to the Ticketmaster event pages where they sell primary tickets.”

The message here is clearly that the integration aims to make artists more money, rather than swell the bank balances of touts. Given the current heat of the secondary debate, however, Spotify can expect a few more questions about how the partnership will work.

Even so, doing more around live is a logical move for Spotify, which was one of the first services to link streaming with gig listings, through Songkick.

In 2016 though, US personal-radio service Pandora is preparing to go global and enter the on-demand streaming market with ticketing – through the Ticketfly subsidiary that it acquired in 2015 – a key part of its experience, including sales within the Pandora app.

Spotify isn’t quite at that level yet, but the partnership with Ticketmaster could certainly lead in that direction. Could Spotify even use its billing relationship with its subscribers to streamline the ticket-buying process in the future? Perhaps that’s on the to-do list for 2017, although how that would mesh with Ticketmaster’s systems remains to be seen.

Spotify declined to comment on the terms of the deal when Music Ally asked if it would be earning commission on tickets sold by Ticketmaster to fans coming through from Spotify. Given its strategy with merchandise deals in the past, we strongly suspect that the Ticketmaster deal is not a revenue stream for Spotify.

Stuart Dredge
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