More than 140 million tickets to live music events are sold each year, according to music listings site Pollstar, in an industry worth more than $10bn (£6.5bn). The vast majority of these will be physical printouts, even if they are bought online, but seeing as the majority of concerts taking place now and well into the future are being held in the digital sphere, does this mean that the physical concert ticket is dead and buried?
Printed tickets carry a wonderful sense of nostalgia. You can touch them, smell them, keep them in an album, revisit memories, and some can even become collector’s items. Sadly, an email ticket doesn’t quite cut it in the memory department! Paper tickets also allow the purchaser to have a direct connection with the event, giving you something tangible to hold and identify your commitment to and excitement for that concert.
So, while physical concerts are on hiatus, what can ticket companies and online concert platforms do to create a connection between a ticket, the audience member and the event itself?
The concert experience begins at the ticket-purchasing stage and becomes ‘real’ when you have bought and received your ticket. Many ticketing providers such as Ticketmaster and EventBrite have long been offering an online service where you can purchase your ticket online and have it emailed to you or attached to your account. Other smaller companies such as DICE are now offering an app ticketing experience where you can put purchased tickets into a digital wallet to access when the time comes. These ticket options are meeting our most immediate ticketing needs by providing us with an entry pass which does not require printing (not many of us have the luxury of an at-home printer). However, these tickets feel very transactional — almost like an invoice. There’s no sense of excitement or connection with the concert or the artist we are longing to see. So how can we make this experience feel more personal and special?
Here are some ideas we’ve had at Virtual Circle to try and tackle the issue:
Augmented Reality — filters you can download onto your phone to help make you feel part of the concert
Hologram/avatar — of the artist/s which can be viewed in the email or downloaded
Thank you video clip — from the artist/s performing
Special content — access to closed content such as behind-the-scenes set up, Q&As and exclusive photographs
Artwork — a specially designed ticket which you can either print out and keep in an album or use as a desktop/mobile screensaver
Personalised content — your name included on communications and included on ticket media assets such as photos and shout outs
Virtual Wristbands – colour-coded tickets which can grant access to different levels of pre-concert content
Something else we need to consider is whether Generation Z feel connected to paper tickets in the same way Millennials and Generation X do — perhaps for Gen Z it’s more about the extra content which helps them to feel connected to the event and generates new levels of excitement? Perhaps content which can be downloaded and stored in a swipe file is of more use than a paper ticket? If you are a Gen Z’er, we’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas at Virtual Circle!
Either way, the right ticket experience can really help set the tone for the digital event and should be considered seriously by all streaming platforms. It’s not just a proof of purchase or an extra level of security – it’s another opportunity to connect with the audience.
Digital tickets have a big hill to climb to compete with paper tickets, and there are still many avenues to explore in creating the same levels of excitement and nostalgia which a simple paper ticket can produce. The paper ticket, it seems, still has a powerful hold over us — but maybe digital ticket experiences aren’t that far behind.
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