Ticketmaster Debut NFT-Gated Tickets

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Ticketmaster Launch NFT-Gated Tickets

One of the greatest things that many believe the blockchain can unlock is a better ticketing experience.

That’s because this specific user experience across music, sports and entertainment, in general, is yet to enter the 21st century if we’re frank.

A recent trial by Ticketmaster however seems to show that even the industry’s biggest players are taking blockchain technology and NFTs seriously.

The ticketing giant trialled NFT-gated tickets with the metal band Avenged Sevenfold.

Essentially — Avenged Sevenfold NFT holders were able to connect their digital wallets to Ticketmaster and get early access to concert tickets.

  1. Buy/hold an Avenged Sevenfold NFT (Deathbats club NFT)

  2. Connect your wallet that holds the Deathbats Club NFT to Ticketmaster

  3. Purchase an early access concert ticket 

It resulted in 1,000 total tickets being purchased between the two shows with the NFT-gating feature. With 10,000 NFTs being available out there, that’s a pretty good conversion rate — without any fraud, overpayment or volatile online queues.

A 10% conversion is pretty phenomenal if I’m honest.

💬 The Context

Thanks to a web of exclusivity contracts with venues, teams, artists and such — fans usually have to go through Ticketmaster to see the artists, entertainers or sports teams they follow.

Ticketmaster are under close scrutiny at this point in time, due to the alleged monopoly they have created in the US markets. Monopolies are bad for obvious reasons — they don’t incentivise innovation, fair pricing and such.

As someone who has been in North America for the past 3 months and attended several sporting events — I can attest: the Ticketmaster experience is absolutely horrific.

It’s buggy, slow, you’re never quite sure if you’ve actually got yourself a ticket and the tech & UI is incredibly janky. Users are constantly logged out and struggle to find their tickets.

Ticketing, Ticketmaster or not, is a pain point for every sports team I’ve spoken to or consulted with. I know some teams for example in the US and UK, that have had to swing from 80% paper ticketing to 80% digital ticketing due to the Covid pandemic.

I’m a big Arsenal supporter for example, and this season the team is having their best season in ~20 years. The demand for tickets is absolutely insane. According to the Arsenal Supporters Trust and the club itself, there are ~300 people at any point on the secondary market refreshing to get tickets. The club have also cancelled almost 2,000 memberships for touting offences this season and blocked over half a million IP addresses due to suspected botting.

Whether you’re a huge sports franchise or a big artist — ticketing is a huge pain point that needs addressing.

👾 So how could NFTs help?

If you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, you know that NFTs aren’t just pictures of cartoon monkeys.

They’re a way to verifiably own things online underpinned by a decentralised ledger.

And tickets have often been touted (excuse the turn of phrase) to be a huge opportunity.

This isn’t just a tech, or verifiable fan thing either.

It’s also aesthetics. Tickets are no longer collectable stubs — they’re mostly just QR codes that look the same.

According to Nat Turner (CEO of Collectors) via the excellent JohnWallStreet — ticket stubs are one of the fastest-growing categories in the collectables market.

Collectable ticket stubs are a thing of yesteryear and NFTs are trying to bring that them digital age.

So how could NFTs help?

There’s no one correct answer here, so let’s try and break it down.

First and foremost — there’s the Avenged Sevenfold x Ticketmaster approach.

➡️ Launch your own NFT collection➡️ Token-gate early access to tickets➡️ Let those verified super fans purchase tickets before anyone else. 

Just like that — your verifiable superfans on chain.

Now, there could be issues here, which I’ll get into later during this piece. For now, let’s talk about the bull case for NFT ticketing.

Another thing that is seeing heavy investment is tickets as actual NFTs themselves.

For example, Ex-baseball player Alex Rodriguez and business partner Marc Lore raised $20 million in a recent funding round for a new ticketing and fan experience business called Jump.

Their proposition includes tokenising the actual thing that is being sold, rather than using a token to sell tickets themselves.

Super Bowl 2022 tickets will come with NFTs from the NFL | Ad Age

This can bring about other benefits including:

  • Fraud controls: If every ticket is an NFT on the blockchain, it’s easier to verify whether it’s real or not. Even physical tickets could have NFC chips in them connected to NFTs on a blockchain.

  • Sponsorship Inventory: NFT Tickets can provide an added layer of sponsor inventory for franchises.

  • Collectability: The tickets could become digital collector items in the same way we’ve seen with physical ticket stubs.

  • Better Data: One of the big issues ticket issuers have right now is knowing who the secondary buyer of their tickets are. Blockchains are pretty good when it comes to provenance.

  • Fan Engagement on Steroids: This could be an entire newsletter in itself, but the ability to elongate engagement with fans dependent on a specific event ticket is a big opportunity. Being at the game LeBron broke the NBA scoring record for example — the momento you received as a NFT ticket is there permanently. LeBron, the Lakers or the NBA could then offer holders of those tickets exclusive perks and marketing nudges going forward.

One thing that we’ve seen more than tickets as NFTs so far is Proof Of Attendance Protocol tokens (POAPs) or commemorative NFTs for being at an event. We’ve seen a variety of NFL and NBA teams do the latter, and the former is incredibly popular at Web3 events and conferences.Spoiler; here’s the POAP we’ve cooked up for our NYC event on the 13th of April!

🧠 My Thoughts

There is so much capital and talent going into the NFT ticketing opportunity that there will be some great unlocks there and I’m absolutely sure that most sports teams have been pitched something by a blockchain ticketing provider at this point.

And whilst I think there are clearly some incredible opportunities here, it isn’t without its issues.

Before we get into them, let’s talk more about Ticketmaster.

There was a lot of excitement from the crypto community about a tech giant utilising NFTs to drive sales, but was the hype too much?

As Spencer rightly points out, we’re talking about a company that has not innovated much, if at all, for decades. A company that is actively being scrutinised by US regulators and has had huge public failings in catering to high-demand ticket drops.

The key point for me is how much value does this deliver? 

For an artist — this is a lot more cut and dry.

Let’s say Oasis have an NFT collection, of 50,000 NFTs.

They, like Avenged Sevenfold, token-gate early access to tickets.

They control their NFTs, with their IP, and how tickets are purchased. But, Ticketmaster or [insert other large ticketing platforms] may have exclusivity over venues Oasis want to use. All good though, Oasis still have their own NFTs which means they can reward their verified superfans via early access tickets. You could even go as far as to ensure those who attend, need to have both the NFT and the ticket in the same digital wallet, for example, to avoid crazy priced resale prices.

With sports teams, I think this is much more difficult. 

Games are more frequent and there are so many more transactions to track for the sports franchise. So many wallets with NFTs to track and ensure that fraud, touting and fair distribution is happening.

So a different approach is probably more appropriate here.

This isn’t my area of expertise, but I’d expect something like this to happen if sports franchises are smart:

Create user wallets that can interact with things digitally on chain and off chain. Imagine this as your membership account. Your [insert sports franchise team] digital wallet. Then, you could create membership points/digital tickets (on chain or not) that are easier to attach and verify to said accounts. All of these things could be 1) good for the fan experience 2) create more ‘positive’ friction that deters touters and 3) allow for greater transparency and revenue & marketing opportunities.

The greater issue when it comes to sports teams however, is what I wrote earlier; they’re so far behind on the tech front.

If we think about just digital — sports teams are massively behind. Ticketing is just one example, but the entire digital experience is terrible. Even things like video players on sports fan sites are embedded like it’s 2007.

Another big issue is everything is massively dispersed.

Let’s take Web3 as a ‘thing’ for one. A soccer team might have a fan token provider and fan tokens, club official NFTs, and an official NFT game — but there’s nowhere for a fan to access all of this from one start point.

Overall, I think there’s a lot of potential in the ticketing sphere when it comes to NFTs, either as tickets themselves or supplementary to them.

But there are a lot of unknowns at scale here, and there will be a lot of growing pains. Blockchains don’t stop or solve botting for example, quite the contrary — and there are still huge UI issues when it comes to account recovery with digital wallets (although this is improving and should be a lesser issue over the next 18 months).

There’s also the issue of control. Sports teams, ticket issuers and venues are desperate to have as much control as possible.

NFTs as actual tickets, if they are NFTs, once they're in the wild… very difficult to control.

To summarise:

  • The many things that give a blockchain superpowers are the exact things that cause issues in ticketing; provenance, fraud prevention, data, collectability.

  • Sports teams are years behind in their digital strategies, letalone going full throttle when it comes to NFT tickets or functional Web3 products.

  • There is so many different greenfield teams trying to create the best blockchain ticketing, or adjacent, proposition

  • But the big players hold the keys (the contracts) and want in on the action. Can we trust them to create the propositions that make sense and fans will love?

  • There is massive opportunity here but the hypothesis that blockchains will be a huge unlock for ticketing is not battle tested at scale

As someone who isn’t an expert in things like ticketing and loyalty, I’m fascinated to see how those two categories evolve with respect to their overlap with blockchain technology.

My gut says there’s a big opportunity here, but it’s being overhyped - and that there are barriers and issues at scale that many aren’t envisioning.

💡Sporting Crypto Spotlight

Tixologi is a blockchain-based ticketing platform. It allows you to know your true ticket holders, increase event revenue, secure your tickets and engage with your fans on a deeper level. Click the button below to get in touch!

More Sports & Web3 Stories

  • Sorare are adding ETH payouts to their MLB vertical. I offered up some further thoughts on LinkedIn (Link).

  • GarageXYZ have launched a motorsport NFT project to help support a young driver called Rasmus Lindh enter Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. 

  • Candy Digital debuted their new MLB NFTs ahead of the 2023 season. 

  • Candy Digital also launched free opening day pin NFTs to celebrate the start of the 2023 MLB season.

  • Kraken have signed a multi-year global pact with F1 team Williams racing. It’s the first sponsorship deal that the crypto exchange have participated in.

  • The third stage of Adidas’ Web3 project is now live.

  • Derby Stars Integrates Chainlink to Help Randomize Horse Breeding.

  • Socios have secured a virtual asset service provider registration from the Bank of Spain. 

  • Incredibly, Dorking Wanderers, a football soccer team in the UK have decided Hex.com are a worthy sponsor. Hex.com infamously sponsored Barnsley with much uproar from their fans.

General ‘Stuff’ that Could Impact you

  • A great read by Matthew Ball on the truth behind Disney’s ‘Metaverse cuts’.

  • Are Apple finally about to launch headsets? 

  • Holywood + sports. Saturated or only just the beginning?

  • The UK Treasury are no longer planning to create an official NFT. 

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