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Songkick and CrowdSurge Join Up to Take On TicketMaster

Good luck!

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

If you want to buy a ticket to see a concert or any other live show, you’re probably going to end up paying Ticketmaster. LiveNation’s ticketing service has a hammerlock on the market, despite the efforts of many upstarts.

Now two of those challengers are joining forces. Songkick, a service that tells you about concerts in your area, and CrowdSurge, a service that sells concert tickets on behalf of performers, are merging in what the companies say is a 50/50 joint venture. And they’ve raised more money to help them take on the big guys.

 Songkick CEO Ian Hogarth and CrowdSurge CEO Matt Jones
Songkick CEO Ian Hogarth and CrowdSurge CEO Matt Jones

Songkick is a seven-year-old company that notifies users when artists they like are going to perform nearby. CEO Ian Hogarth says his app has 10 million monthly users, and he also attracts eyeballs via distribution deals like the one he has with Spotify, which gets his service in front of its 60 million users.

But Songkick doesn’t sell tickets itself — it passes users on to Ticketmaster and other ticketing services. Enter CrowdSurge, which specializes in selling tickets that concert promoters allocate for their performers, who can usually get their hands on up to 10 percent of a show’s inventory.

So pushing the two services together has some obvious logic. But even then, they will be a small player compared to Ticketmaster, which sold more than 150 million tickets last year.

In order to get bigger, they’ll need to convince performers and their managers to bring them more of their business, which means working against Ticketmaster and LiveNation, which is one of those things that’s fun to talk about and very hard to do. Ask Pearl Jam, which tried to get the Feds involved, or Louis C.K., who made a big splash by selling tickets to a 2012 tour without Ticketmaster, but has ended up using them again for more recent shows.

At least the combined company will have some cash to fuel their efforts. Access Industries, Index Ventures and Sequoia Capital, who have previously backed Songkick, are putting another $16 million into the new company; Access, owned by Warner Music Group owner Len Blavatnik, also owns a piece of CrowdSurge.

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