Touring is typically a musician’s primary source of revenue. So it’s surprising that the music industry hasn’t really upgraded the way it keeps fans updated on upcoming shows. There are social media blasts, but mostly, musicians just use email.
ThrillCall, a concert listing website formed in 2008, launched an iPhone app today to do that. The company already aggregates and republishes show listings from the APIs of all of the primary ticketers. That service has half a million users. The problem though, was the delivery method.
“The frequency of touch points was low without spamming via email,” co-founder Chad Taylor said. ThrillCall’s app aims to circumvent that. To motivate users to actually open the app, ThrillCall has lined up exclusive offers with venues for each day. “If you’re going out for drinks and want to be spontaneous, there’s live music in every corner,” Taylor said. “Most tickets go unsold not because they are bad bands or the venue is uncool. It’s because people don’t know about it.” It’s slightly ironic then that ThrillCall’s initial offer is tickets to a sold out Flaming Lips show at the upcoming Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco. The venue provided 30-50 tickets to ThrillCall. Other types of offers include free drinks, backstage passes, meet and greets with the artists, exclusive seating or swag like t-shirts or free downloads. The exclusive offer gets users to open the app, I suppose, thus exposing them to a variety of lesser known, probably not sold out shows as well. The listings are all there, regardless of whether an exclusive offer is attached. Taylor noted that discounted tickets are not encouraged because he doesn’t want to cheapen the experience. “You’re less cool if you discount your tickets,” he said.
The idea is to get music venues more progressive and tech-savvy in the way they promote their shows while offering users something exciting and spontaneous (most offers are for shows that night). On the logistics side, ThrillCall sells the offers directly within the app, a process its streamlined with the venue’s own ticketing system. There is a dashboard for venues and ThrillCall has account managers to help the promoters get started with their offers.
ThrillCall isn’t the first startup to focus on concert listings. There’s also Songkick, a company formed in 2007 that I discovered when Spotify launched its app platform last fall. Songkick was a launch partner and provides its app within the music streaming service’s framework. Taylor says ThrillCall’s daily offers and venue partnerships sets it apart from SongKick. ThrillCall is also exploring the possibility of developing an app for Spotify. Since Spotify opened its API with a dozen or so launch partners, no new third party apps have been made available in Spotify’s app store.
ThrillCall (get it? it’s like will call) launches first in San Francisco and will expand to LA next month with several Sunset Strip venues on board. It launches in Austin during South by Southwest and Portland and New York are on tap for later this year. The company is backed by a found of seed funding and a Series B; it will raise a Series B soon as it ramps up and adds employees, Taylor said.