Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

TicketFly Rounds Up $3 Million to Fight Ticketmaster

Average concertgoers go to two shows a year, and there’s a very good chance some of the money they spend on those shows goes to Ticketmaster, which dominates the ticketing business.

So here’s a company that wants a piece of that: TicketFly, a New York-based start-up that just raised a $2 million Series A round led by High Peaks Venture Partners and Contour Venture Partners. The company had previously raised $1 million in convertible debt last year, via angels Howard Lindzon and Roger Ehrenberg, among others.

If TicketFly works, there’s a good chance you won’t ever know about it, because it’s a B2B business: Consumers fund the operation via surcharges on their tickets, but the real customers are the concert venues, which strike exclusive deals with ticketing companies.

So most of the features are designed with the venues and promoters in mind. TicketFly says it can help with Web site design and management, promoting shows on Twitter and Facebook, tracking sales data in real time, etc.

All of this sounds like fairly straightforward stuff, but the ticketing business is an old, archaic one. And Ticketmaster, the industry’s eight million-pound gorilla, now owned by Live Nation (LYV), is particularly slow-moving when it comes to all things tech. So some of this really will feel fresh for the concert guys.

More interesting are TicketFly’s plans, which involve giving venues the chance to sell tickets using the same dynamic pricing/yield management techniques hotels and airlines use: That is, prices for hot shows may shoot up, and if you want to see a band no one else wants to see, you may end up paying very little.

TicketFly has about 50 venues signed up so far, and most are fairly intimate places like Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., or the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis–the kinds of of places where you could see Nirvana before Nirvana became Nirvana.

They’re also the kinds of places that used be served by TicketWeb, another Web-based upstart that Ticketmaster acquired a few years back. No coincidence: TicketFly co-founder Andrew Dreskin used to run that company.

Here’s a little wayback machine: Nirvana at Maxwell’s in 1989. Audio and video quality is about as rough as you’d imagine: