Pandora Blog

The future of live music has arrived

Years ago, my band played a show in Los Angeles. It was a prestigious club and it was big deal for us. As is often the case with these shows, we had to guarantee a certain number of people. We knew it would be tight because we hadn’t played L.A. enough to build a local audience, and our local mailing list (as in “postal” mailing list) was pretty small, but we put the word out to everyone we knew and crossed our fingers.

When the time came for us to go on, the sound man stopped us on our way to the stage. He told us we were just short of the audience guarantee (I think it was 150 people) and the manager was pulling us. It was a humiliating moment. We had driven 400 miles, brought a bunch of fans, and now we were being told we couldn’t play.

That moment captured for me the awful challenge that working musicians face. You lug a truck full of equipment thousands of miles a week, sleep on floors, spend hours rehearsing and setting up, and then you sweat attendance every night. The difference between 100 and 300 people at a show is the difference between a slow death and sustainability.

Today marks the day when that starts to change. That era is over.

Today, we shared the news that we are buying Ticketfly – the country’s largest, most-beloved and fastest-growing independent ticketing and digital marketing platform for live events. Last year they sold over 16 million tickets to more than 90,000 events. We’re combining forces to create the world’s most efficient platform for connecting listeners with live shows from their favorite bands.

It’s the perfect solution for listeners, artists, promoters and club owners, bringing the power of scale and personalization to bear on the working musician’s most intractable problem. 75% of concert tickets are sold to venues with less than 7,000 seats, and that share is growing. But well over $1 billion of tickets go unsold at those events every year. That represents a huge opportunity for artists and we’re going to help them capture it.

We know it works. We’ve demonstrated that using smart, targeted messages, delivered to the right audience, at the right place, with the right music preferences can dramatically impact the attendance at shows.

For listeners this is going to mean a personalized flow of local shows they love, with simple ticketing and no obscene fees. And for artists, it means a huge step towards sustainability. Revenue from live music is the lifeblood of most performers, typically representing 80% of their earnings. We can materially increase that revenue, and just as importantly, put an end to demoralizing shows to half-empty rooms.

Time to turn the page on a very exciting new chapter in music.