Who's Taking on Ticketmaster?
In the multibillion-dollar ticketing industry, Ticketmaster dominates. The company has a lock on many of the country's largest theaters, concert halls, and sporting venues. And in 2010, Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation, the world's largest concert promoter. Despite all that, a few companies have emerged to challenge the ticketing behemoth. Here are three companies looking to steal the show.
Though it sells some concert tickets, Eventbrite mainly targets smaller functions and corporate events such as business conventions. Husband-and-wife team Kevin and Julia Hartz founded the San Francisco-based company. (Kevin Hartz, an early investor in PayPal, founded two other businesses: ConnectGroup, which provided high-speed Internet access to hotels, and Xoom, a money-transfer service.) For paid events, Eventbrite charges a fee of 2.5 percent plus 99 cents per ticket. The company, which has nearly 200 employees, is well funded: It has raised $80 million. Last year, it projected it would hit $400 million in gross ticket sales for 2011.
Tickets sold per month: 1.4 million
In 2000, Andrew Dreskin sold his first ticket company, TicketWeb, to Ticketmaster for $35 million. A few years ago, Dreskin teamed back up with TicketWeb's former COO, Dan Teree, to launch the San Francisco-based Ticketfly, which now manages ticketing for 360 venues across the country. The company provides software tools that make it easy for venues to promote events on social-media sites and in e-mail newsletters. Ticketfly's fees range from about $1 to $22, depending on the ticket price, as much as 50 percent lower than Ticketmaster's fees. The company, which has raised $15 million in funding, has 70 employees.
Tickets sold per month: 400,000
Anderson Bell says he realized the ticketing industry was broken when Ticketmaster assessed him $50 in fees for two $60 concert tickets. FanFueled, Bell's Chicago-based start-up, charges much less in fees than the big boys: from $1.50 to $9.95, depending on ticket price. And FanFueled gives back a portion of the fees in cash rewards to customers who help spread the word. The company has technology to track the ripple effect of any Twitter or Facebook post about one of its events. So far, FanFueled, which has raised $1 million in funding, has been signing deals with indie promoters. The company, which has 11 employees, had revenue of $1.8 million in 2011.
Tickets sold per month: 20,000
The Line: Eventbrite is selling the most tickets by targeting events that Ticketmaster and other sellers have traditionally ignored. Ticketfly and FanFueled, which mostly target the concert market, could have a harder time gaining market share. But these start-ups have powerful tools that leverage social media, which could help them establish a profitable niche. FanFueled, with its low fees and strong word-of-mouth marketing, may be the dark horse in this competition.