Streaming music service Pandora is buying ticketing firm Ticketfly, in a deal valued at $450m with a “nearly equal balance of cash and stock”.
Ticketfly has tended to focus on smaller venues, carving a niche for itself in the ticketing market with its emphasis on social networking features.
It may be smaller than giants like Ticketmaster, but as a startup it has been well-funded: investment rounds of $3m in 2010, $12m in 2011, $22m in 2012 and then $50m in July 2015 – $87m raised in total so far.
In March this year, the company said it had passed $1bn in tickets sold since its launch in June 2009, with half of that coming in 2014 alone. That year, Ticketfly sold more than 16m tickets to over 90,000 events.
“We’re combining forces to create the world’s most efficient platform for connecting listeners with live shows from their favourite bands,” wrote Pandora founder Tim Westergren in a blog post.
“It’s the perfect solution for listeners, artists, promoters and club owners, bringing the power of scale and personalisation to bear on the working musician’s most intractable problem.”
Yes, we hear you sceptics: isn’t that problem the low royalties artists (let alone songwriters) get from Pandora? But unsurprisingly, that’s not the problem Westergren is thinking of. It’s clear how Ticketfly slots in to Pandora’s pitch to artists.
“75% of concert tickets are sold to venues with less than 7,000 seats, and that share is growing. But well over $1 billion of tickets go unsold at those events every year. That represents a huge opportunity for artists and we’re going to help them capture it,” he wrote.
“We know it works. We’ve demonstrated that using smart, targeted messages, delivered to the right audience, at the right place, with the right music preferences can dramatically impact the attendance at shows.”
Westergren said that Pandora users can expect a “personalised flow of local shows they love, with simple ticketing and no obscene fees”.
For its part, Ticketfly’s director of communications Rachel Durfee published a blog post outlining how the company will sit alongside another recent Pandora acquisition: Next Big Sound.
“Pandora and Ticketfly are both deeply data-driven. We will harness our combined data to improve recommendations for fans and create new tools for artists and promoters,” wrote Durfee.
“The coming together of Pandora and Ticketfly, plus Next Big Sound, will create the most powerful fan analytics platform in the world for venues, promoters, and artists.
Pandora’s interest in live isn’t new. The company recently ran pre-sale ticketing partnerships with the Rolling Stones and Odesza, selling tickets for their respective US tours earlier in 2015.
“We decided that live music was certainly one of the places we could add value fastest and most definitively,” SVP Lars Murray told Billboard in September.
In the case of the Odesza campaign, audio and banner ads on Pandora as well as blog posts drove fans to the presale ticketing offer, with Pandora selling 25k tickets to listeners it identified as Odesza fans.
Pandora is far from the only streaming service to be exploring live opportunities. Spotify has started working with selected artists to offer exclusive or early pre-sales to their top listeners on its service: Foo Fighters, Disclosure and Elbow frontman Guy Garvey are among the early guinea pigs for that feature.
Meanwhile, Spotify is also testing out a new feature called Concerts in its desktop application. Revealed in a screenshot published to showcase a different feature in mid-September, it sees “Concerts” as a menu option alongside Browse, Activity and Radio in Spotify’s left menu bar.
Watch now to see if there is a knock-on effect from Pandora’s acquisition of Ticketfly. Its streaming rivals may decide now’s the time to snap up some of the latter firm’s competitors.