Oztix’s Stuart Field on thriving and surviving in the ticketing biz
Oztix had been working for the past three years on expanding in the highly competitive Australian ticketing market, in which it works with 500 venues on an exclusive basis and 5000 venues non-exclusively.
Then its main rival moshtix became part of Live Nation, and the game took a major change for managing director Stuart Field and his team.
This interview was done a week after a new executive team was announced.
Q: In which sectors do you see the biggest growth for Oztix?
A: “We see growth coming in the independent music market.
“While there is a lot of competition in the venue and festival space, there is a large amount of unsold inventory for the majority of shows and an audience out there who are not aware of all the events that are on.
“We have been working hard on our data/marketing strategy which is all about getting the message out to customers about all the great events that they can go to.”
Q: In which ways will Moshtix losing its independent status provide extra opportunities?
A: “Moshtix and Oztix started around the same time, as Australian owned and operated businesses.
“The opportunity for us is that, now that moshtix is a Live Nation company, there are people who will prefer to support an Australian owned and operated, independent business rather than an international conglomerate that promotes tours and events in the same market space.”
Q: With the new additions to the executive team, what is your strategy for growth? How long have you had these plans in mind?
A: “Our growth strategy is twofold.
“Using the data-driven marketing tools we have developed to get more people out of the lounge room and into venues and events by engaging our audience, and by continuing to offer the best new tech and our famous friendly service.
“We have been working on this for over 3 years now and a big part of us expanding our executive team is to ensure we deliver on these strategies while still providing clients with high level of service they are used to from Oztix”.
A: What were the obstacles, if any, for Oztix, and how will the new team overcome these?
A: “One of our biggest obstacles is highlighting to our clients that Facebook and Google are not everything when it comes to marketing.
“They can change their rules or algorithms at any moment which can have a detrimental impact on marketing.
“We have 16 years of data and a core focus for our new team is to demonstrate and highlight how valuable this is for our clients and show what we can do with it.”
Q: What are the obvious positives of being an independent agency?
A: “Yes definitely. My partner Smash and I are the two founders and directors of Oztix.
“So not only can we make decisions and change our course quickly, but we also both work in and are close to the business and the industry so we know what is happening, what the challenges are and just as importantly where the opportunities are.”
Q: Do you work with social media apps Facebook and Instagram and what percentage of your sales come from there?
A: “We do, you have to these days, but we focus on many different channels and ensure we do not rely on them.
“Oztix currently generates on average 25% of the sales for every event we ticket.
“Facebook can optimistically claim that they influence sales, but if you scroll past an ad in your social feed, and it flashes on your screen for half a second, can they really claim that the same came from them?”
Q: What initiatives does Oztix have to help emerging acts?
A: “Oztix proudly sponsors several music industry events like BIGSOUND, Australian Music Week, QMA’s (Queensland Music Awards) and a number of smaller regional B2B events.
“These events are key to helping emerging acts get noticed and for their managers, agents and band members to network and learn more about the industry.
“As well as having cheap booking fees for low price tickets for the up and coming bands, we have recently launched an automated marketing platform which ensures every event on the Oztix system receives promotion in our newsletters, not just the major events.”
Q: You were working on events Big Day Out and Livid, but it took working on Resin Dogs label Hydrofunk Records that introduced you to e-commerce. What exactly was that learning process, and was there a specific light bulb moment which led you to set up Oztix as Ticket Solutions Pty Ltd?
A: “It was actually a combination of both.
“There was a point where Big Day Out sales jumped from around 15% online to just under 50% in a year and at the same time, we were selling the Hydrofunk stock through an online store.
“There was a Resin Dogs album launch show at the Arena in Brisbane and we came up with the idea to sell a ticket with the CD through the online shop.
“We sold 150 tickets to the event and the idea was born.”
Q: Where did you get the money to set it up, how many people were in with you to set it up, how much did it cost, how big was the original staff, and how primitive were the original working conditions?
A: “We were totally self-funded from the start and still are to this day.
“We started out working underneath Smash’s house and there were three of us.
“The biggest challenge was getting a bank to give us a merchant facility, which after going through all three of the big ones we finally settled on St George.
“We had to put up a substantial bond as this was the early days of taking credit cards online.
“The cost to set up is as anyone who has started a business knows it’s not so much the actual cost, but the time, effort and sleepless nights you put in and then many years of hard work for not much… how do you put a value on that!”
Q: How would you wave the magic wand and end ticket scalping?
A: “I would wave my wand and make the reseller sites disappear!”