It’s all about context
Shotgun wouldn’t have existed 5 years ago. If it does now, it’s thanks to 3 key elements.
1. The transport revolution
A few years ago, when I was a student, going out at weekend was a pain. Not (just) because most of the very few places to go out were crap. But because the going part of going out was insanely horrible. The coming back part especially: metro stopped running around midnight — still does by the way, taking night buses was a dangerous game, and taxis would either slow down to laugh at your poor drunk face or simply ignore you.
Then Uber, Heetch and Lyft came out. Those guys not only simplified urban transport or “made mobility explode”. They made the going and coming parts of a night out actually fun and enabled millions of young people to get out of their apartments, out of their neighborhood. They didn’t replace taxis: they released the energy of the youth. By reducing the distances and making traveling to places fun, they enabled the creation of new destinations.
2. More listeners, more creators
A few figures. In 2010, the year I started my Business Masters’ degree, Spotify had less than 300,000 paying subscribers. In July 2018, they hit 83 million paying subscribers and will probably reach the 100 million threshold in the next few months. Not 10 years ago, experts of all kinds would explain that the music industry was dead, nobody would pay for musical content anymore. Back then, an average music consumer would buy around 2 to 3 CDs a year, so between 45$ and 60$ yearly basket. I personally now give Spotify 120$ a year.
On the supply side of things, a platform like Soundcloud enabled every single teenager on this planet to create songs and quickly reach an audience in a matter of a few clicks. In 2014, Soundcloud had already gathered more than 10 millions creators, and, on average, 12 hours of music were uploaded every minute. All those new creators suddenly shaped that very long tail of artists the music world had been waiting for. They now want to produce live events, both to physically meet their growing audience and to financially benefit from their work: music lovers’ willingness to pay can reach huge levels when it gets to live events, whereas streaming remains a commodity.
3. The emergence of the “experience” generation
In a recent study made by Live Nation, a vast majority of people interrogated states that “now, more than ever, they want to experience real life rather than digital life”. And 71% of them declares that “the moments that give them the most are live music experiences”. In a study we did at Shotgun, we discovered that more than 60% of the 1,200 people we interrogated go out at least once a week.
“Now, more than ever, [we] want to experience real life rather than digital life”
A paradigm shift
More party lovers. More parties.
As I said, going out to live experiences has exploded. Transport went from being the biggest friction to go out to a seamless experience. The geographical potential of cities has expanded: suburbs have become accessible: events producers can now easily organize events far away from city centers and still gather thousands of enthusiastic fans. A major consequence is that the number of event organizers has skyrocketed. A simple figure: 85% of our clients — event organizers, didn’t exist before Shotgun was born (2014). Amongst the other 15%, only a few existed before 2011.
Going out has become a way of life
The transports revolution has enabled a music loving generation to experience live music at an exponential rate. This generation is becoming more and more expert, demanding, curious and adventurous. They want to discover more artists, more events, more experiences. Going out isn’t a rare occasion that happens once every few weeks anymore: it has become a way of life. At Shotgun, we believe it is an amazing one and it needs to be supported and pushed forward.
This booming phenomenon is changing the face of Europe: all young people are shifting to this way of life. This is not just about listening to live music, this is about a revolution of their social lives: when you change what people do at weekends, you change the face of social life at scale.
Problem: the ecosystem is not ready
At a recent conference in Paris, the Head of Sales of a French ticketing solution publicly stated: “Ticketing is dead”. Besides the fact that I personally found that statement falsely smart, I can’t help but see the obvious comparison between that statement and what experts would say about music industry back a few years ago.
It’s a bloody battlefield
Let’s give that guy credit though. Let’s not pretend the ticketing industry is doing great. It’s actually the opposite: it’s an archaic champs de ruines. Just like in the transport industry back a few years ago, older players didn’t see what was happening, or simply didn’t take action.
User experience on most ticketing solutions reminds me of what the Internet actually felt like when I was still a student. Second market ticketing websites invaded the market and destroyed trust. The main ticketing solution in the US is facing a class action lawsuit allegedly encouraging scalpers. In France, Hellfest Festival — the biggest French festival in terms of turnover — is filing a complaint against ViaGogo and other similar websites: their 2019 edition went sold out in less than 3 hours, triggering hate messages and insults from the infuriated fans.
Old school stumbling giants
Most distributors are generalist e-commerce websites. Without specialization, personalization, they’re condemned to push huge productions on their main page. They serve huge producers who don’t even need them. They sell tickets for stadiums, big theaters, huge concert rooms, exhibitions… Drake, Rihanna, David Guetta, Disneyland, Chicago, Celine Dion… They are old-school e-commerce websites where you buy expensive tickets for huge productions through an 8 steps purchase process.
Going out has exploded to become a way of life. There’s nobody out there to take care of that revolution. At Shotgun, we are determined to be the infrastructure this paradigm shift requires.
Now what? Short term priorities
Priority #1: building a platform
On the one hand, the frequency at which people go out to live events has exploded. Going out has become the center of the new generation’s social lifestyle — a generation we promised ourselves to serve at Shotgun. On the other hand, the number of organizers has skyrocketed: each week, there are more and more events available out there.
Faced with this situation, it has become critical to offer the platform that ecosystem needs. On one side, a frictionless and community oriented user experience for party lovers: simple, fast, efficient, and also an extremely available and reliable customer support. On the other side, a super easy-to-use tool to create events, distribute tickets and build faithful fan bases over time.
Priority #2: sharing knowledge
Let’s say it plain and simple: distributing what is selling like hotcakes is the easiest thing to do. Put Friends or Prison Break on Netflix or any other streaming platform, people will watch it, whatever the platform is. No reason to be proud. But Sense 8? Under the Dome? Masters of None? Even Stranger Things?
In the context of an increasing supply — the number of events, and an exponentially expert demand, the hard thing about distribution is showing and pushing the right content to the right audience. As a distributor, once you’ve done that part of the job right, it’s the content creator’s job to retain their new audience.
As a distributor, your main focus should be understanding users through data — mostly their tastes and behaviors, to eventually enable producers to create new concepts, push artistic ideas super deep and improvise. Your promise is that you will help them reach an initial audience so they can build their own fan base over time.
Priority #3: re-building trust
Fans don’t trust organizers they accuse of collusion with distributors. Organizers don’t trust distributors they accuse of collusion with touts. Fans don’t trust websites they consider responsible for all this mess.
Rebuilding the trust that has been splashed to the ground is essential. Building a platform and reconnecting organizers with their fans through knowledge are ways to rebuild trust. But there are other ways. The main example is the tickets secondary market: integrating resell features to the main platform so that organizers can follow up on those tickets; sharing those additional revenues between fans, organizers and platforms… those are essential features to bring trust back in the ecosystem.
A revolution has happened in live events. No one had foreseen it, and nobody seems ready or willing to take care of it. At Shotgun we’re building the reliable platform that we hope will connect those millions of fans to their new heroes: events producers.
Shotgun, European startup
shot·gun | \ˈshät-ˌgən\
Shotgun is the platform for people who live outside: we are the marketplace where social lives are organized.