Like its buddy the music industry, the touring business did not have the most profitable year in 2010. In fact, it was a pretty lousy stretch for Live Nation Ticketmaster, as many of its marquee acts either postponed entire tours (U2, Christina Aguilera) or canceled select shows (Rihanna, the Jonas Brothers) due to vague illnesses or scheduling conflicts (code words for "poor ticket sales"). Next year is thankfully shaping up to be a better one for the touring faction: Lady Gaga and U2 are coming back around, instant sell-outs like Radiohead, Coldplay and Kanye West are due for U.S. treks and, most importantly, Ticketmaster is incorporating social networking features into its site! That's right, Live Nation Ticketmaster, the publicly reviled concert giant that over a year after its merger still can't launch one uniform site, is going all Facebook on ticket buyers.
As Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard tells it, "The concept is simple: instead of letting your friends know you've purchased tickets by calling or emailing them, start sharing simply by clicking the 'Attending' button right after you've purchased. Even cooler -- you can go to the Dave Matthews or Boston Celtics page and see who's going... interact with the emerging community around events that is taking shape on our site -- stuff like reviews, fan photos, and now the profiles and interests of fans like you. We intend to dazzle you with how we make social part of the fabric of our site." Or discuss how awesome last night's Trans-Siberian Orchestra show was, or commiserate with your fellow consumers about Ticketmaster's excessive service charges. Consider us "dazzled."
The Amp spent 10 minutes today on Ticketmaster in a failed attempt to get tickets for Kanye West's surprise Bowery Ballroom concert tonight, and considering those tix sold out in less then 30 seconds, that was nine-and-a-half minutes too long spent at the Ticketmaster site. No social features will change the fact that people will only visit Ticketmaster to buy tickets. Apple went a similar route when they revealed the social-minded Ping feature on iTunes, and months after the Ping launch we still haven't encountered anyone that uses it consistently. Facebook might have finally usurped Google in web traffic, and "The Social Network" is probably going to dominate the Oscars, but it's become clear that these social features isn't the answer the music and concert industries are looking for.
- Christina Aguilera