If an iron throne existed for the independent ticketing sector in these parts, Oztix would now be the rightful owner.
With Live Nation/Ticketmaster snapping up Moshtix in February, Oztix takes the mantle as Australia’s No. 1 independent ticketing company, with a range of clients that includes Good Things festival, venues ALH Group, The Triffid, Prince Bandroom, The Cambridge Hotel, the Sydney International Art Series at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and many others. The business tickets more than 1,000 events each month, a figure that’s climbing.
Oztix will sit on that indie throne for years to come, enthuses founder and director Stuart Field, who has positioned his company for growth with a raft of new appointments, including general manager Steve Tassone and national operations manager Jim Cunningham, and the acquisition of PleezPay, the event technology platform which handles ticketing and fundraising services for event organisers and charities in the sports and general admission spaces.
It’s good to be the King.
TIO caught up with Field for a glimpse inside Oztix, the billion-dollar live market and life at the top of the independent ticketing world.
Your company recently added staff. How is business going right now?
Yes, Oztix continues to grow year on year which is a driving force behind the investment in new staff. Over the last year Oztix partnered with 500 venues on an exclusive basis and 5,000 venues non-exclusively whilst also ticketing over 1,000 events every month. This number continues to grow each year. Another major area of growth for us is that there is a large amount of unsold inventory for the vast majority of shows and an audience out there who are not aware of all the events that are on. We have been working hard on our data and marketing strategy which is focused on getting the message out to customers about all the great events that they can go to and achieving the best result for our clients.
With LN acquiring Moshtix, you claim the title as No. 1 indie. Does that create challenges or opportunities?
The opportunity for us is that, now that Moshtix is a Live Nation company, there are people who will prefer to support an Australian owned and operated, independent business rather than an international conglomerate that promotes tours and events in the same market space. We anticipate there may be some challenges, predominantly that Moshtix now have greater access to funding and the weight of Live Nation working with them but we see it more as an opportunity than a challenge. We see the opportunity to really add value to our clients as we are a local company who understand the Australian market.
How does a “leading indie” compete with the likes of Ticketmaster and Ticketek? And how do you stand out from the many indies.
While we are competing with Ticketmaster and Ticketek, for the most part we operate in different markets. Their main focus is on the major stadiums and the larger scale events while our focus is on the independent music scene. There is obviously some crossover but we have worked in the music industry all of our lives so a lot of our good friends and work colleagues are clients. In regards to the indies, there is a lot of them but our real point of difference is our relationships, data and technology. With today’s technology it could be easier to start a ticketing company then when we began, but developing strong relationships over a 16 year time period is not so easy. We’ve learnt what works and doesn’t work along the way.
What’s your sense of the state of the live music sector right now in Australia?
It’s in a real state of change at the moment. There’s a lot of amalgamation of business which we have seen recently, and a lot of technological changes. Everything from the way people market live music events, to how customers pay for them has changed a lot in the last few years and will continue to change. We have seen the demise of major touring festivals like Big Day Out and Soundwave, and I’m not sure we will ever see them again as there is just not enough new large touring acts to sustain them. We are seeing the emergence of smaller boutique festivals that focus on the consumer experience which I think will continue on into the future. Overall live music faces the challenge of connecting with the young generation and showing them that a live experience is better than streaming a song or watching a video.
What are the big issues facing ticketing companies here?
Ticket scalping is the obvious one and how we deal with this. There are so many customers that are getting ripped off or not getting the opportunity to go to gigs by companies like Viagogo due to invalid tickets. Not only is it impacting customers but it’s having a big impact on ticket companies, venues, promoters and agents. There are a lot of people out there who click on a Viagogo ad, see a highly inflated price of a ticket and choose not to go. Had they seen the real price, they probably would have gone to the show, so it’s impacting sales which is not good for anyone.
What next for Oztix?
We have been working on a number of strategic partnerships over the past year or so which we will soon be rolling out publicly. Our focus has always been to add value to our clients and their businesses and we have been working hard to come up with new ways to do this. Data is central to our strategy moving forward and we are working on ways to get people out of their lounge room and into venues to see live music.
Finally, with Ticketek teaming up with Dainty and Live Nation owning Ticketmaster, would it make sense for Oztix to further align itself with a promoter? Chugg Entertainment of Frontier Touring perhaps?
I don’t think so. The benefit of us being independent and not aligned is that we are a more appealing option to the independent promoters. When we started the business we always believed promoters, agents and bands should be able to choose what company they want to work with and that’s still what we still believe today. We know our relationships are strong and will allow us to continue to grow. We don’t have any plans to take over the world and become an international goliath…. for now at least.