Embracing innovation is essential for Ticketmaster to give fans exactly what they want now and in the future, according to the company’s UK MD.

Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation has nine investments in start-ups focused on various aspects of the concert experience.

Ticketmaster UK MD Andrew Parsons, speaking to BusinessCloud during an Eagles gig at the Arena, said plugging into the start-up world is key for the company.

“Whilst we're a big organisation – we spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars on technology – there is absolutely a need to be finding all the incubators of areas we want to be able to move forward with,” he said.

“From our perspective, our core aim is to be able to have a framework of technology that is open and the ability to be flexible with whichever direction the industry and fans require us to go.”

One of the companies with investment from Live Nation is US-based start-up Blink Identity, which can identify people at walking speed using a mixture of facial recognition and iris scanning.

“Looking at the access control piece, we've just introduced the digital ticket, which ties it to mobile, there's a degree of biometric control within that as it's your thumbprint which is needed to access the app and phone in order to present that ticket,” said Parsons. “We’ve also invested in Blink Identity, a facial recognition company.

“Down the line, the open nature of the platform will mean that we can take various bets on what direction fans and the business wants to be able to go in. Facial recognition is an example of that.

“We're not all-in on any of those [technologies]: it's about being able to have the infrastructure to be flexible and move in whatever direction the market ends up going.”

The ticketing giant recently announced a link-up with SMG Europe, the largest operator of sports and music venues in the UK and Europe, which saw it introduce digital ticket technology at Manchester Arena.

Arena

Fans heading to the Arena can now receive tickets directly to their mobile phones, send tickets securely to friends to enter the venue separately and make use of Ticketmaster’s fan-to-fan marketplace to re-sell tickets to other gig-goers.

Other benefits include the introduction of animated tickets with moving digital panels, which prevent people from attempting to use screenshots to enter shows.

“Fraud is certainly one of the issues that is addressed by digital tickets,” agreed Parsons. “Although the scope of digital ticketing is a lot more than that – it’s ultimately one of fan identity.

“It's knowing who fans are, so we're able to understand and explore their interests and hopefully put events in front of them that they'll want to see.

“As an industry, we've long had this frustrating experience whereby we only know the buyer. We don't know the rest of the party. So with the transfer function that digital tickets brings into place, where fans can share their tickets with the rest of their party, we can give them the option to opt-in to our marketing too.

“For an artist, this means they are able to communicate to more than just the people who may have just been the most organised or had the most money in their account at the time of the sale – they can communicate with all of their fans.

“It’s also about greater convenience. We're headquartered in London, where I'm based: I took a Virgin train here and used a digital ticket. The airlines are there, the trains are there, everybody is ready for the convenience of this being directly to phone.

“All the other things are a nice add-on. We're providing fans with a better experience.”