True Tickets, a blockchain ticketing company, is working with Shubert Ticketing to create a better ticketing experience for millions of fans on Broadway. Digital Asset Live Editor-in-Chief talks to Matt Zarracina, True Tickets CEO.
Q1: As an avid follower of musicals, I have a particular interest in your project. The way tickets are sold especially to tourists and visitors to New York, has always seemed ridiculous to me, exorbitant prices one one ticket office, several times lower for better sittings other places, all claim to be ‘official’ and ‘authorised’. Why is it so?
A1: Your question gets to the heart of the problem – trust. All the issues we associate with ticketing are essentially barriers to trust. The current lack of standards and consistency in the customer purchase process are exactly what we are working with the Shubert Organization and others to address.
Venues and theaters both need and want distribution partners to help sell tickets and fill empty seats, but the myriad of options contributes to the trust problem.
Any website or street vendor can claim being an authorized reseller, but how can the average tourist trust their ticket is legitimate or authentic?
With paper based tickets it becomes virtually impossible to standardize the purchase process across multiple distribution partners.
Digital ticketing, and the accompanying technologies that support it or can support it, now offer an opportunity to better address the issues you point out and that users deal with on a daily basis.
Q2: Currently, who gets the most money a tourist pays to enjoy a musical?
A2: Every show is different, but producing a great show costs money. Broadway relies on a few blockbuster shows to offset the shows that never reach breakeven. Because the margins are so thin for many productions, it’s even more important that the content creators benefit from their work instead of illegitimate scalpers and unauthorized resellers.
Transitioning to digital tickets will enable the secure distribution and transfer of mobile tickets from the venues to the patrons and among verifiable authorized resellers.
Q3: What do you hope to achieve with your project? Lower prices? Fairer distribution in ticket sales?
A2: We provide our clients better management of their digital tickets so they can better manage the relationships they have with their fans and patrons.
Q4: How exactly will True Tickets achieve it? How will your blockchain function to every type of participant, theatres, theatre goers?
A4: We are achieving our goal by providing a secure digital ticket delivery method that works with the venue’s current ticketing system. Our service is turn-key, not rip and replace, and it can be tailored to meet the venue’s specific digital ticketing needs. From a patron experience perspective, there is almost no change, our focus in on changing outcomes without changing behaviors. The ledger service (our “blockchain”) is one of the many features we offer to our clients to make it usable immediately upon installation, but it is only a piece, albeit an important one, of the broader solution.
Q5: Blockchain marketplaces are about removing intermediaries? Will you leave some? Which ones?
A5: The blockchain value proposition is more about fostering trust and provenance in a trustless world, than about removing intermediators. If you are in a supply chain consortium, you trade inefficiencies for a set of rules in a defined permissioned system, improved trust.
For True Tickets, our aim is to improve trust in ticketing. How brokers and distribution partners in the secondary market work with our clients will be a decision made by our clients.
We simply facilitate more trusted or trustworthy transactions between parties. We provide an inventory management solution that aims to make sure each and every ticket sold, purchased, or transferred is legitimate and secure regardless of the distribution source.
Q7: Media reports state that 17 Broadway theaters united behind your project? How did you manage this? Theaters worldwide are notoriously individual and are hard to convince to cooperate with each other..
A7: The 17 Broadway theaters you point out all use the Shubert Ticketing system. Our relationship with the Shubert Organization is a direct result of (and the primary reason for) us joining the Broadway Tech Accelerator (BTA). We recognized an opportunity to develop a long-term strategic relationship with the Shubert Organization through the accelerator and we are very happy with the outcome. Ultimately, as a B2B solution, our success is predicated on our ability to partner with major players in the industry. With the BTA we not only developed a relationship with the biggest name on Broadway that does 10M tickets per year worth around $1B in top line ticketing revenue, but they are now invested in our success.
To the second part of your question, while you are correct that theaters operate individually, for the most, the vast majority tend to leverage a handful of major ticketing platforms to facilitate their ticketing. This actually represents an opportunity for us. We have an integration with one of the major ticketing platforms, which means their network (hundred clients worldwide) will be able to leverage our service in the very near future. As we’ve proven out our service for our pilot clients in the network, that has reassured the broader membership of our capability resulting in an increased willingness to explore working with us, gradually reducing the barriers or hesitation to cooperation. We’re also in conversations with several other platforms that present a great growth opportunity for us as well.
Q8: What will it take for your platform to operate in another country? Do you have such plans?
A8: Because our service is B2B, our ability to operate internationally is mostly tied to our client’s geographic reach. The platform we are currently integrated with does have an international presence and we are in conversations with international clients on that platform. One thing we’ll need to customize by geography or country is our operational support materials (manuals, communications, etc.). Those need to be tailored and translated for a specific area, but that has minimal impact on the actual code or technical solution (at least at present).