ILMC30 — Aliens, Ticketing, Blockchain and an excellent live-music event!

This update is from Aventus – Medium

The 30th anniversary of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) saw a vibrant and stimulating three day conference at Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, London.

The theme of the event was ‘The Truth is in Here’, with all the appropriate extra-terrestrial costumes, props and gags; the ‘Men in Black’-style intro from ILMC’s Greg Parmley in particular went down a storm with delegates (at least, as far as I remember….we may have had our memory wiped).

The Artos team were there on the ground, including founders of the Aventus Protocol Foundation Annika Monari and Alan Vey. Our goal: to discuss how greater collaboration and audience engagement can lead to a healthier sector. Luckily, there were a great range of ticketing, blockchain and music technology working sessions available to debate the future of the industry. We thought we’d use this blog to report back and give our thoughts on where things are going.

Ticketing: Paying the Price

Chaired by Tim Chambers, a renowned ticketing consultant, the panel for Wednesday’s ticketing session included David Marcus of Ticketmaster, Paul Newman of AXS, Adam Webb of the the Fanfair Alliance / AL1 Communications, Oliver Hoppe of Wizard Communications, and Steve Zapp of ITB.

The debate began with a discussion around how to decide upon suitable ticketing prices. Zapp kicked off by explaining his methods of analysing past data from promoters and primary/secondary agents. Marcus and Newman advocated a more custom approach, emphasising the importance of getting a sense of the unique market for each live music event, and of “estimating the value of every seat in the house”. Indeed, Ticketmaster has developed an algorithm that calculates 24 different pricing levels, plus additional platinum levels and dynamic pricing, based on the particular artist.

“[Event pricing] has to be an artist-driven strategy.”

David Marcus, EVP & Head of Music, Ticketmaster

The debate moved on to the high and fluctuating price-levels in the secondary-market, with panel members agreeing that the “secondary market shows we do a terrible job with pricing.” They also agreed that the future would necessitate greater delivery on the “brand-promise” of artists: for many artists, making ticket prices accessible to fans is more important than creating revenue, especially while building a brand. However, the current state of play makes it difficult to put controls in place that will deliver every ticket — regardless of when and where it is sold — at the price the artist actually wants it sold.

The timing was apt, with the ASA having raised the prospect of a formal review of the secondary-ticketing market just the day before. Should there be a greater level of legislation in order to challenge such extreme price-setting? Webb felt that there was already a great deal of consumer legislation, however it was not suitably enforced; however, he was hopeful that “the future [would be] slightly more technology-based and slightly more consumer friendly.”

The panel did agree that there must be more explicit identification of secondary/primary ticketing agents when fans search for tickets online; something which Google is taking steps to address. And that’s not the only area where identification is being looked at: Ticketmaster has introduced ‘Verified Fan’ in order to try to deliver a more consumer pull-based strategy and cut through the automated bot bulk-purchasing. However this is an ongoing battle, with “20 billion bot attacks on Ticketmaster in North America alone.” Clearly, more secure means of verifying identity are required.

From the floor, Stuart Galbraith, CEO of Kilimanjaro Live, noted that Ed Sheeran had joined the likes of Stormzy and Adele in vocalising his concerns about fans missing out on tickets that are sold at prices way above face value. Overall, there was strong agreement that the industry needs to do more in order to create rules around ticket pricing that are fair, fan-centric and foster the longer-term health of the live-music industry.

Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies

Thursday’s blockchain workshop session, hosted by Karim Fanous of Abbey Road Red, built upon the challenges and deficiencies aired the previous day by offering some potential technology solutions and a lot of food for thought. The hour-long session was very well attended — testament to the current buzz in the industry — and dove into some of the ways that blockchain could aid a more objective, rules-based approach to ticketing throughout the supply-chain (Artists, Managers, Promoters, Venues, Primary and Secondary Agents), and ultimately provide an enhanced market-based customer experience.

Fanous started with an overview of blockchain to delegates; some of whom were blockchain aficionados, with others keen to find out what all the fuss is about. As experts in the room, Aventus/Artos founders Annika and Alan were invited by Fanous to respond to a number of astute questions from delegates covering technical, process and legal dimensions of blockchain. Alan outlined how smart contracts within the blockchain allow artists and their managers or promoters to control and define specific rules around ticket pricing and ownership.

Image © ILMC, via Twitter

Overall, ILMC was a very stimulating and thought-provoking event, with a common thread of change and innovation being embraced across the sector in order to become more efficient, effective, and engaging.

“Bad for buyers; bad for business.”

Something not covered during Thursday’s blockchain session, but alluded to during Wednesday’s ticketing session, is how Blockchain can also offer that much-needed, more secure means of verifying identity. By acting as an immutable ledger, it becomes near impossible to falsify or counterfeit tickets, at the same time as creating transparency in transactions that makes bulk-buying easier to spot and outlaw.

“At the moment, power has been ceded to touts and other opportunists, which is not only bad for buyers; it’s bad for business,” says Alan Vey, “Blockchain technologies such as the Aventus protocol put that power back into the hands of the industry, letting ticketing organisations take back control of how they do business, realise new revenues and new commercial benefits, and create ticketing models that are fairer to artists and audiences alike.”

ILMC30 — Aliens, Ticketing, Blockchain and an excellent live-music event! was originally published in Aventus on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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