Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pandora Buys Ticketfly, a Competitor to Ticketmaster

Written by Ben Sisario — Pandora Media, the biggest player in Internet radio, has moved into the ticketing business with an agreement to buy Ticketfly, an independent firm that competes with Ticketmaster and is popular with clubs and festivals in the United States and Canada.

Pandora announced early Wednesday that it would acquire Ticketfly for $450 million, in a mix of cash and stock. The deal further expands Pandora’s interests in providing services to artists. Last year, it introduced a data system, the Artist Marketing Platform, or AMP, that shows musicians which songs are most popular on the service and where. And in May, Pandora bought Next Big Sound, another data service, which studies the listening and online searching patterns of streaming music customers.

Pandora, which has nearly 80 million regular listeners, said that its acquisition would benefit artists and listeners.

“This is a game-changer for Pandora — and much more importantly — a game-changer for music,” Brian McAndrews, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement. “With Ticketfly, we will thrill music lovers and lift ticket sales for artists as the most effective marketplace for connecting music makers and fans.”

The deal will also add a level of complication to the sometimes delicate system of alliances in the ticketing world, which is dominated by Ticketmaster, a division of Live Nation Entertainment.

Ticketfly, which was founded in 2008 and was an early proponent of using social media and the web to market tickets, has become a popular choice for promoters that want to avoid the Ticketmaster system. Last year, according to its announcement with Pandora, Ticketfly sold 16 million tickets worth more than $500 million. Among Ticketfly’s clients are the club Brooklyn Bowl and the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.

This year, the independent ticketing world was jolted when Ticketmaster bought Front Gate Tickets, another service popular with clubs, festivals and acts, a move that led some bands, like Wilco, to shift their alliances to other companies.

Pandora’s control of Ticketfly could pose a challenge to Ticketmaster, particularly given Pandora’s history of using its user data for marketing. The company, which derives about 80 percent of its revenue from ad sales, has long pitched advertisers on its ability to identify its users based on their demographic data and listening habits — even going so far as to say it can predict its listeners’ political affiliation.

“The combination of Ticketfly and Pandora will be a marketing and event discovery powerhouse,” said Andrew Dreskin, Ticketfly’s chief executive and co-founder, “giving venues and promoters unprecedented access to a massive and targeted audience of nearly 80 million music fans.”

News of Pandora’s deal for Ticketfly was reported late Tuesday by the technology news site ReCode.

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