How blockchain technology is helping bands and their fans

By | 3 minute read | May 2, 2019

You’ve probably thought about it: getting in at the ground floor of an IPO is a dream come true. For the vast majority, however, it remains only a dream — accessible only to a relatively small group of privileged investors. To get a piece of the action, the average person has to wait until the stock has been bid up in the secondary market, to what is usually many times the original face-value price. Most of the public is priced out of the investment opportunity, while the proverbial middleperson takes the difference as profit.

To concert and sporting event ticket buyers, this scenario seems all too familiar. Who hasn’t seen or heard of a ticket with a $20 face value going for 10 times that price, or even more? And it’s not only ticket buyers who suffer. Take a band in high demand. Once a concert ticket gets resold, the band has no way of knowing who the “real” fan is. That makes it next to impossible to connect more intimately with its hard-core fan base.

Then there’s counterfeiting. Anytime a person buys a ticket in the secondary market, the threat is always there. And almost always, the unfortunate victims find out their tickets are counterfeit at the gate, long after any recourse is possible. That’s because there has been no viable way to guarantee the provenance of tickets once they enter the secondary market.

Blockchain shines a light

We started True Tickets to change all that. And we saw blockchain technology as the ideal tool for adding the end-to-end transparency and security that the ticketing business desperately needed. We built a ticketing system on the IBM Blockchain Platform, powered by The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric. Hyperledger Composer provides the application development framework within the platform, providing a set of application programming interfaces (APIs), a modeling language and a programming model that developers can use to quickly define and deploy business networks and applications that allow participants to send transactions that exchange assets.

Our ticketing solution does two critical things. First, it creates and preserves ticket provenance by identifying all buyers and sellers, ensuring that both the tickets and the people buying them are legitimate. Second, the ticketing platform serves as an immutable ledger, allowing artists, venues, promoters and fans to track a ticket through each stage of its lifecycle, from creation to its use at an event.

Keeping ticket prices in reach

One key function that benefits both buyers and artists is the ability to establish rules around a ticket’s resale. Many artists understandably care a lot about making sure tickets to their shows don’t go into the stratosphere, pricing out many of their most devoted fans. Our solution gets around this by establishing a ceiling so that, for example, a $20 ticket won’t be allowed to sell for more than $100. Once the ticket does get above $20, the solution’s tracking capability helps ensure that artists still get a cut. That’s a big change from the scalper-prone ticketing dynamics that largely prevail in today’s market.

A new way to reward fan loyalty

Beyond the benefits of provenance, fair pricing and transparency, our solution opens new doors for artists who want to get closer to their fans. For instance, the tracking data within the platform can be used to identify the most devoted fans in a particular city, enabling a band to reward fans’ loyalty through special offers such as exclusive, intimate concerts. In another scenario, such as a music festival, the platform can be used to analyze the average attendee’s arrival time, then uses that data to more efficiently schedule event staff at the gate. Put simply, the end-to-end transparency enabled by blockchain helps ensure that artists and their devoted fans get their due—for a change.

Watch Steven Dobesh talk about using IBM Blockchain to make tickets counterfeit proof: