Harley Evans talks Moshtix 15th anniversary, blockchain and the future of live
If you thought your gig was tough, try ticketing.
Australia’s ticketing landscape is, of course, dominated by Ticketmaster and Ticketek. Depending on who you talk to, the “Big Two” account for upwards of 80 percent of all live entertainment tickets sold in these parts. The independents are many, and only a small handful have substantial muscle. Moshtix is at the top of the pile.
Moshtix CEO Harley Evans, a seasoned ticketing veteran with experience in the U.K. (for a time he served with the London-based Fulham Football Club in ticketing and management capacities) and his homeland, New Zealand, has seen the indie ticketing agent continue to evolve in this, its 15th year in business.
In 2013, Evans and his business partner, former News Ltd executive Vanessa Bond, engineered a management buyout of Moshtix and its sister company Foxtix, a deal that effectively concluded Rupert Murdoch’s foray into ticketing. Today, it’s a growing, evolving business, notes Evans, who chatted with TIO about the company’s recent history, changes to come and the state of the industry.
It’s Moshtix’s 15th birthday this year. How has the landscape of ticketing changed in that time and where do you see it heading?
When Moshtix started in 2003, online ticketing was really just starting to evolve which created an opportunity for new entrants like Moshtix and Oztix who weren’t required to invest in the same physical distribution infrastructure as the bigger players.
That had been a key barrier to new entrants up to that point – the ability to scale. Fast forward 15 years and the vast majority of ticketing is digital and the emphasis has shifted from physical distribution to marketing and customer engagement. Alongside that, so much of what we do now is driven by data and everyone’s appetite to get their hands on data and do something meaningful with it.
Looking ahead, I think we’ll be seeing a plethora of new products and integrations introduced into the ticketing space, but ultimately success will be based on merit rather than size or the ability to fund large rights payments. I imagine technology will open the market up and allow multiple ticket agencies to sell for the same events and it will be who has the best relationship with the customer that will generate the best conversions and engagement.
A hot topic in the industry at this time is around scalping and resale. What do you think the solution is to curbing touts and creating a legitimate resale market?
Blockchain technology appears to offer a path that will protect buyers and sellers of tickets and legitimise the secondary market. But it’s an emerging technology and expensive at present. I’m a big believer in providing event-goers with a safe platform to re-sell their tickets at face value or less, to discourage the rogue scalping behaviours we’re now seeing.
Moshtix built a re-sale platform for Splendour in the Grass six or seven years ago and it was incredibly effective at legitimising the resale of highly valued tickets. It remains a key customer service offering for us and we’ve built it out by linking it to our Waitlist and customer comms.
How do you compete with the big two, Ticketmaster and Ticketek?
If you look at the ticketing market, you’ve got the self-service operators at one end who aren’t geared up to do large, complex events, and the two majors at the other end, whose technology and service model doesn’t provide any opportunity for a self-service experience. Moshtix is one of only a handful of companies that can operate effectively at both ends. So the key for us becomes identifying the sectors or events that we feel we’re a great fit for…we know our strengths and weaknesses and play to those.
What we’ve seen in recent years, we’ve attracted large non-music event organisers to Moshtix. The Australian Turf Club being a good example…and has resulted in a huge increase in pre-sales since they partnered with us. So whilst I think we’ll always be known for our experience in live music events, I do see us participating in wider markets with event organisers and venues who see value in our experience and credentials.
What’s your view on the state of the industry in the live space? Who’s winning the war of attrition for hearts and minds?
The recent LPA stats showed a very buoyant music market, although this is heavily affected by the performance of the arena and commercial theatre end of town. Our view is that it’s still a bloody hard slog operating in the mid-range for venues, event organisers and performers, but that those who invest early and heavily in building trust with their audience seem to be rewarded.
Maintaining a direct relationship with your audience is really important in this day and age, and a lot of our product strategy is about giving those tools to our clients and passing on our tips based on what we see working across our network of events. We’ve also seen examples of investment in the live experience economy at a state level, but this needs to be accelerated given the value that it brings not only to our economy, but the fabric of local communities.
Talk me through your new ticketing platform, the Moshtix Control Room.
It’s always a big call when you decide to rebuild the foundations that the house sits on. It was really a case of modernising our platform to allow us to deliver robust and innovative solutions and technologies to our clients more quickly and more often.
The tech stack we’ve adopted is the same used by Facebook and other large online retailers, and our clients always want to feel like they’re aligning with forward-thinking partners. One of the great advantages… is the improvements in usability of the system allow us to be more proactive when it comes to our service model.
You’ve got a new logo and tagline officially launching last week, “Make Live Easy”. What’s the thought process behind it?
Yeah, it’s always surprising how much time and effort goes into something like this and it was great to involve a lot of the team in the journey. We went through a real process of looking at what Moshtix stood for and the contribution we wanted to make to the events ecosystem.
We’re moving to an uppercase version of our name in the refreshed logo to symbolise us stepping up to take on a more significant role in being part of the solution and creating, rather than extracting, value from our industry.
But we still have the energy and determination of a challenger brand, which is where the adjustments to the circles in our logo came in, showcasing movement, momentum, progression and energy.
Event organisers want to get their events on sale quickly and easily and sell lots of tickets with the minimum of fuss, and customers want buying and receiving a ticket to be easy. That was where the “Make Live Easy” tagline was born.
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.