When Matt Jones was a teenager, he used to host concerts all around the UK. He managed bands, had a record label, and started an online magazine.
He was also putting on shows for not-yet-big celebrities like Adele, Mumford and Sons, and Ellie Goulding.
But after realising he was doing about 400 shows a year, Jones decided to pivot. As a concert promoter, he had witnessed the ins and outs of the business and came to understand that the system, in his opinion, was “broken.” He decided he would be the one to change that.
“As a promoter you lean on these third-party platforms to get you exposure and marketing, but there isn’t really anything there,” Jones told Business Insider. “You don’t go to Ticketmaster and say, ‘Oh what show should I go to tonight?’ You’re pointed there. You were listening to it on Spotify, or you’re reading about it, or your friend told you about it, and then you go to a destination.
“It just felt like that extra step wasn’t adding any value,” he said. “Why can’t you just go to the source where it’s just like I want to go to a Coldplay show I’m going to go to coldplay.com.”
And so in 2008, Jones created CrowdSurge, a company that lets artists take control of their tickets and sell directly to their fans on their site.
The company is currently working with 300 artists, including big names like Arcade Fire, Paul McCartney, Lenny Kravitz, John Legend, and Macklemore. And they’re selling tickets in 57 different countries.
In 2013, CrowdSurge sold tickets for 5,218 different events. Six months into 2014, they had already sold tickets for 4,762 events. The company wouldn’t share exact numbers, but they said they have sold millions of tickets.
In addition to providing the behind-the-scenes technology for ticketing, CrowdSurge also helps artists come up with fun ways to engage their fans — like letting fans vote on where a band should perform and then routing the concert tour based on the results.
But the most important thing CrowdSurge provides for artists is independence from third parties and the ability to control their relationship with fans.
“When I was a concert promoter I used to go to every single show,” Jones said. “I have a relationship with these artists. We’re the only company in the space that thinks of our client as the artist. Everyone else thinks it’s the building or promoter. But you don’t go to Madison Square Garden to go to Madison Square Garden, you go because Coldplay is playing.”
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