Spotify tickets: streaming firm tests direct pre-sales to fans (exclusive)


Spotify’s latest expansion into the world of live music will see the streaming service selling tickets directly to fans, rather than just linking to external ticketing firms.

For now, this is strictly a test rather than a full commercial launch. It kicks off tomorrow (10 August) with a small number of artists, with pre-sale tickets available to fans through Spotify’s app and a newly-launched website.

The test is happening in the US, with Annie DiRusso, Tokimonsta, Osees, Dirty Honey, Limbeck, Crows and Four Years Strong the first artists confirmed for the initiative. The tickets will come from those artists’ pre-sale allocations for upcoming concerts.

Don’t get carried away with any ‘Spotify takes on Ticketmaster’ hyperbole just yet. The company is making it very clear that this is just a test for now, and that it’s focused on pre-sales rather than primary ticketing.

“At Spotify, we routinely test new products and ideas to improve our user experience. Some of those end up paving the path for our broader user experience and others serve only as important learnings,” a spokesperson told Music Ally.

“ is our latest test. We have no further news to share on future plans at this time.”

Spotify Tickets

Clearly there are some sensitivities here, because Spotify already has several partnerships with ticketing firms. The company recently relaunched its concert listings feature as a ‘Live Events Feed’ within its app, linking to tickets sold by partners including Ticketmaster, AXS, Dice, Eventbrite and See Tickets.

Spotify does already have some involvement with ticket pre-sales through its ‘Fans First’ initiative, which involves working with artists to send exclusive email offers to their keenest listeners on the service – including pre-sales. However, it does not sell the actual tickets in those cases.

The theory behind the test kicking off this week is to find out whether Spotify can both widen its involvement in pre-sales while selling the tickets directly. We would expect that to include a share of the revenues, although Spotify declined to give any details of the business model.

There’s another obvious motivation behind the test. Pre-sales of their own allocations can be an important income stream for artists, so if Spotify can help them do it, that could be a reputation-booster at a time of renewed debate (alright: big arguments) about musicians’ streaming royalties.

If Spotify can also become one of the ways artists ensure their tickets go to genuine fans rather than touts – resales are not allowed in the test – that could also be positive. And in this case, Spotify has the data to prove whether ticket buyers are genuine fans: their listening history.

Important caveat: there’s no suggestion at this point that Spotify will use this data as a barrier to purchase, in a ‘you can’t buy this artist’s pre-sale ticket because you haven’t streamed them enough’ way.

We’re imagining something else: options for artists to promote their native-Spotify pre-sales to their biggest listeners in the cities / regions where the concerts are happening.

But the “no further news to share” in Spotify’s statement was no joke: this is purely Music Ally’s speculation on how the company’s on-platform ticketing could evolve.

All of this is not happening in a void: other big streaming and social services have been exploring ticketing, often through partnerships with the big companies in that space.

Just this week, for example, TikTok and Ticketmaster announced a deal that will help TikTok’s users to discover events and buy tickets from within the app, as well as enable creators (including musicians) to promote them.

That partnership follows a deal earlier this year between Snap and Ticketmaster to add a ticketing layer to the ‘Snap Map’ feature in Snapchat. People can use the map to see upcoming events near them and buy tickets, while Ticketmaster also has its own ‘mini-app’ within Snapchat for concert discovery.

Meanwhile, YouTube has been working with Ticketmaster since 2017, adding deals with Eventbrite (in 2018) and AXS (in 2019) to ensure that concert tickets are promoted within artists’ official channels on that service.

All partnership-based, so Spotify’s test of selling tickets itself feels like a new development. Amazon did launch a ticketing arm in the UK in 2015, with the stated ambition of “becoming Earth’s most customer-centric ticketing company”. However, the division was shut down in 2018.

There’s a context to Spotify’s test, then. We’ll be keen to observe whether it goes well enough to spark a proper expansion into ticketing in the future.

Which, given the way Spotify made acquisitions a key part of its push into podcasts, could be very interesting for the likes of Dice and other promising ticketing startups who might seem snappable-up targets in the future…

Written by: Stuart Dredge