Groupon gigs a win-win for fans, mu­si­cians

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Mes­fin Fekadu

NEW YORK — Web­sites like Groupon have be­come the go-to place for folks look­ing for that half-off deal on a man­i­cure, a two-for-one of­fer for a fancy din­ner or that all-in­clu­sive trip that won’t break the bank. But in­creas­ingly, it’s also be­com­ing the place for mu­sic fans to scoop up deep dis­counts on con­cert tick­ets, CDs and more for top-name acts. From big-name acts Ar­cade Fire to faded per­form­ers such as Color Me Badd, the in­dus­try is turn­ing to Groupon and Liv­ingSo­cial to con­nect with more fans — and sell more prod­ucts. Groupon struck a deal with Live Na­tion in 2011 to help sell out con­certs, and a year later, Liv­ingSo­cial part­nered with AEG to do sim­i­lar work. “That abil­ity to give this shot of adren­a­line to the mar­ket­ing pro­mo­tion is a big deal,” said Alex Michael, Liv­ingSo­cial’s gen­eral man­ager for its en­ter­tain­ment and restau­rants di­vi­sion. “You get mas­sive brand ex­po­sure and ul­ti­mately you get sales and so that com­bi­na­tion is pow­er­ful.” Michael said Google in­formed Liv­ingSo­cial that after the site of­fers deals on tick­ets, reg­u­lar tick­ets sales also go up. “We do it in a big way by de­liv­er­ing it to peo­ple’s doorsteps and in­box… Aware­ness is prob­a­bly the big­gest is­sue,” he said. When sell­ing con­cert tick­ets, Groupon typ­i­cally of­fers a 30 per cent to 45 per cent dis­count. Greg Rudin, vi­cepres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager for GrouponLive, said it mainly fo­cused on last-minute inventory when it signed with Live Na­tion. It took a year to per­suade the pro­moter to let Groupon start sell­ing tick­ets in ad­vance, and “as a part­ner, not just when you’re in trou­ble.” “The Groupon au­di­ence is sig­nif­i­cantly broad… we’ve reached them in a re­ally sim­ple way, giv­ing them the easy op­por­tu­nity to say yes and buy a ticket on the spot. … And I think that if we weren’t frankly reach­ing the ca­sual fan that was not nec­es­sar­ily go­ing to buy a ticket any­way, that we wouldn’t have a strong re­la­tion­ship with our part­ners,” Rudin said. Business is go­ing so well for Groupon that it doesn’t even of­fer that great a deal any­more. “We’ve in­creas­ingly seen that we don’t have to dis­count as much as we might have orig­i­nally thought we did, and we have a big ini­tia­tive in­ter­nally within our group… to dis­count less,” Rudin said. “The peo­ple that buy are not nec­es­sar­ily sig­nif­i­cantly price­sen­si­tive, they just don’t know about it.” Liv­ingSo­cial has sold con­cert tick­ets in ways rang­ing from a one show-deal with Bruce Spring­steen to a six-week ex­clu­sive to sell tick­ets for Oprah Win­frey’s up­com­ing tour. Michael said con­sumers come to the site to buy tick­ets be­cause of the added value and bun­dles that are of­fered. “Whereas with oth­ers sites you may just get a ticket, you may just get a dis­count, but what we want to pro­vide you with (is) a ticket and an ex­pe­ri­ence or a value item,” he said, such as a Tshirt, drink ticket or ac­cess to an act’s sound check in a bun­dle deal. “Ev­ery­one wants some­thing that’s a lit­tle more per­son­al­ized th­ese days.” Liv­ingSo­cial worked with plat­inum­selling rock band Switch­foot last year when it of­fered a con­cert ticket along with a ticket to the band’s doc­u­men­tary. It worked so well that Liv­ingSo­cial was the home for pre-sale tick­ets for Switch­foot’s tour this year, of­fer­ing a signed poster and down­load of the band’s lat­est al­bum with tick­ets. “Th­ese are our op­por­tu­ni­ties, through Liv­ingSo­cial specif­i­cally, that we’ve used this last year to reach more peo­ple and to let peo­ple know what we’re do­ing,” Switch­foot drum­mer Chad But­ler said. “We’re reach­ing peo­ple that have never been to a Switch­foot con­cert… or rec­og­nize our band’s name.” Rap­per Wiz Khal­ifa, who has part­nered with Groupon for tour dates, said he was open when the idea of work­ing to­gether pre­sented it­self. “I liked the idea of it be­cause there are tons of peo­ple who are too busy or they’re out of the loop,” he said. “So it makes it much eas­ier (for fans).” Groupon has also sold CDs. Last year, it of­fered two of singer Ciara’s al­bums for $13.99. Groupon is sell­ing Bey­oncé’s best­selling lat­est al­bum, her HBO doc­u­men­tary and a live con­cert DVD as a bun­dle for $49.99. Rudin said the company is look­ing for more ways to pack­age deals — maybe even be­com­ing the go-to place for de­but­ing mu­sic.

CHARLES REX ARBOGAST / AP FILES

Web­sites like Groupon and Liv­ingSo­cial have sold con­cert tick­ets for Bruce Spring­steen (above) and Wiz Khal­ifa.

SUSAN WALSH / AP FILES

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