Spotify Concerts pitch video for the academic project breaking down the full experience.
Combating ticket bots and scalpers is a major issue that’s been tackled since the dawn of time.
“The problem is that [fan clubs] have been infiltrated by ticket brokers, many of whom uses fake names, fake addresses, and multiple credit cards to steal tickets out from under an even smaller subset of real fans”. This was written by Nathan Hubbard, the former CEO of Ticketmaster in 2016.
Every year, 5 billion bots attack the Ticketmaster e-commerce platform to scalp tickets equating to a loss of $8 billion in tickets resold on secondary sales platforms. As a result, Ticketmaster’s reputation has become synonymous with poor experience and bad service among fans and artists. More than 67% of desirable tickets at each event are taken by scalpers and bots, and resold at highly inflated prices, preventing true fans from seeing their favourite artists. ☹︎
Ticketmaster's current purchasing experience on their responsive e-commerce website.
According to Ticketmaster, they strives to put fans first by listening to their customer’s feedback and work to improve their experience before, during, and after events. Their three main values are: to put fans first, to provide great customer support and to deliver an end-to-end experience.
As outside designers, we found that Ticketmaster’s brand values have been poorly communicated to their customers which has led to high levels of dissatisfaction. In order to revive the company’s values, it was important to first address the real fans — people with great passion for the artists they follow.
Through a partnership between Ticketmaster’s public API and Spotify user data, we proposed Spotify Concerts as an integrated feature that firstly, aims to verify real fans and bring the tickets to them in a manner to combat bots. And secondly, strives to redefine the purchasing experience through maintaining engagement with Premium users from point of concert discovery to moments after an event.
The decision of building a mobile feature and partnering with Spotify leverages upon user mobile trends and Spotify's reliable global image. As Spotify has the fundamental attributes that catered to user trends and offered authentication and verification abilities, we believe Spotify is the ideal partnership.
Spotify has maintained a reliable global brand image among over 40 million Premium subscribers along with an extensive database of paid users metrics. Facebook authentication on Spotify can easily spot bots and ensure a trusted space for ticket purchasing.
Ticketmaster’s global scale provides Spotify users with the most diverse options for live events and will help drive more fans to concerts. Spotify will be able to better improve relationships with artists as concerts are a key revenue source. Strengthening the brand loyalty towards Spotify, users will have more incentive to use the service by being rewarded and branded as ‘real fans’.
Instead of having consumers find the concerts (pull), our solution would bring the concerts to them (push).
As part of the research, I first identified the key frictions within the existing experience on Ticketmaster and of concert-goers. Next, through creating the experience framework, I highlighted the key stages of the concert lifecycle leading my team in designing ways to engage the users seamlessly.
To identify the key frictions, I used three methods to investigate and discover various user scenarios:
- I downloaded the Ticketmaster app and various other ticket purchasing apps (Ticketfly, Songkick, Eventbrite, Stubhub) to understand the user flows, see if I come across possible pain points and compare the different user interfaces and experiences of all the apps.
- I interviewed users of Ticketmaster and other ticket apps, as well as, frequently concert-goers on their experiences and what they value when attending music events.
- I reviewed Ticketmaster and concert-goer experiences on various forum websites such as Reddit to look for any other possible insights.
From the research, I was able to synthesize all the feedback into an ideal experience map highlighting a user's interactions with the Spotify and Ticketmaster ecosystems. The four essential elements to the experience we focused on designing are: in-app and push notifications, concert ticket pre-sale invitations, one platform purchase flow, and an end-to-end experience.
CONCERT TICKET SALE
Certified Fans will be invited to attend the concert of their favourite artist through notifications, keeping them in the loop. Ticketmaster delivers access codes to tickets directly to the fans as a way of deflecting bots.
User Frictions: Concert information such as venue location, tour dates, prices are currently scattered on artist's social media pages or ticket sites and information are sometimes inconsistent. These information would usually be sought out by fans through their own sources which can be frustrating and time consuming.
Resolved Touchpoints: We are introducing recommended concerts to Spotify users based on their listening habits. Notifications will bring the concert information to the users first and update users whenever needed. Spotify would be further targeting the needs of music fans by offering them an all-inclusive platform for their music needs by from ticket information to ticket purchasing.
Concert information and details can be accessed straight from the concert page itself.
Users can discover seating at concerts through two methods: Map or Filters. The clear, user-centred purchasing flow aims to promote confidence in obtaining highly desirable tickets. In a step-by-step guided process, the Spotify platform will be able to offer ticket-buyers a smooth purchasing experience.
User Frictions: The existing purchasing process on Ticketmaster's website and application is confusing and visually disorganized. New or occasional users currently have issues navigating the platform especially when finding desirable seats and understanding where they are in the process.
Resolved Touchpoints: We have redesigned the flow to be clear, concise and intuitive. In a step-by-step guided process, the Spotify platform will be able to offer ticket-buyers a smooth purchasing experience.
Main screens for the general purchasing flow of the application through filter method.
SHARE THE TICKET
In the case where a user purchases multiple tickets, they can share them through their Spotify friend's list or via email. This aims to prevent resales by scalpers while enabling passionate fans to share their love of music with their friends and family.
User Frictions: For both users and Ticketmaster, the method of sharing tickets has been a difficult task as the reselling of concert tickets is the leading problem being tackled by Ticketmaster. Users may come across fraudulent tickets with very little ways to verify the authenticity.
Resolved Touchpoints: By delivering and maintaining tickets that primarily live on the digital platform, it is much harder to resell. Users can only share with their friends connected through Facebook, Spotify or email and transaction can be tracked.
Latest Iteration: Spotify works with more than just Ticketmaster now. For scability purposes, the e-tickets will follow respective branding.
Due to a general lack of follow up after purchasing tickets, Spotify Concerts will hype up users on the days leading up to their highly anticipated event!
User Frictions: In all existing ticket purchasing platforms, there is usually a lack of follow-up post-purchase. In many cases, concert-goers purchase their tickets months in advance and have many forgotten about it. In the meantime, some users interviewed stated that they enjoy listening to the artist more frequently in the days leading up to the event.
Resolved Touchpoints: By utilizing Spotify's smart algorithms and curation ability to create custom playlists for users, we have incorporated notifications and concert-related playlists to get them ready for the big day. By leveraging the existing connection made between Spotify and Facebook, we wanted to take it a step further to better engage users with their friends through event notifications and confirmations.
END TO END EXPERIENCE
Through a holistic approach, Spotify Concerts maintains seamless engagement from before, during and after the event. Users can track their tickets, view the event's social media content or replay the concert setlist.
User Frictions: Following the event, many concert-goers feel the sense of "post-concert" syndrome where they already start missing the experience. Often, users rewatch live-footage on social media and relive the moment listening to the full setlist.
Resolved Touchpoints: Within user's profiles, they can review the artist's concert page with setlist playlists, social media postings (CrowdAlbum was recently acquired by Spotify) and official merchandise. By publicly identifying users as loyal fans, we can create an aspirational value and inspire more users to listen to their favourite artists. Let’s hope this cures some of those with the “post-concert” syndrome.
To further improve this project, I am interested in a stronger integration between Spotify, Ticketmaster and Facebook. I see Facebook’s existing community a great way to foster new connections for fans, artists and communities. Before a concert, fans through Facebook can identify concert-goers and generate excitement together. After a concert, there could be a communication stream for attendees to connect with each other and continue to share the love!
Although shortly after the completion of our project, Spotify announced their partnership with Ticketmaster, our team was not discouraged to continue improving our idea. We felt it confirms our research and product strategy decisions for both Ticketmaster and Spotify in tackling scalpers and bots, as well as, enhancing Spotify's experience and their relationship with artists.
Our partnership application will benefit Ticketmaster by redefining their connection with fans, putting the fans’ needs first to help combat bots. It will also benefit Spotify by encouraging more Premium subscriptions and lastly provide improve fan/artist relationship, as concerts are a key revenue stream for artists. Our aim is to drive more fans to concerts.
Purchasing a ticket to an event should be a fun, exciting experience that flows smoothly into the concert itself. By improving the ticket purchasing experience, the customers start off their journey with a positive experience that can be carried over to the purchased event itself.
Think With Google (2014), Josh Constine, TechCrunch (2014)
A definitive shift for online ticket purchasing and Spotify mobile users overall the last couple years has validated our choice for designing a mobile solution.
Tinder Case Study
“The [Tinder] developers have taken measures to fight back, using user Facebook data to make it harder for bots to look real. If they can't stop bots getting on the site, they can at least empower the [company] to make it easier to spot them.” - Emmet Ryan, The Business Post (2016)
In addition to Spotify’s user data, we seeked out additional methods for authentication and verification. My team investigated how existing social media platforms combat bots. Tinder, specifically, along with many other social media platforms use Facebook data as an authentication and verification gate through analyzing user's activity. Spotify also uses Facebook as a key method for creating a profile and logging in.
Facebook Authentication Model
In order to deal with the issues of “listen” farming and fraudulent clicks, we would be targeting paid Premium Spotify users (40 million paid subscribers) who have connected to their Facebook account. We would leverage both Spotify and Facebook’s user data to determine if the user is a human or bot.
We’ve designed a system that aims to filter out ticket scalpers and fraudulent clicks through Spotify and Facebook user metrics, in order to authenticate fans’ profiles. By targeting and supporting Spotify users with both premium subscription and Facebook verification, we are able to create an algorithm using the metrics of:
Together, these metrics from multiple sources become indicators of whether an individual is first, a real person, and second, if they are a legitimate fan of an artist. They would aim to filter out scalpers by creating ‘walls of resistance’ for bots trying to obtain tickets.
MORE PRODUCT STRATEGY
Our proposed ticket purchasing experience within the Spotify app would put more tickets in the hands of legitimate fans of artists. This would be accomplished through a business partnership between Ticketmaster and Spotify, in which Spotify would track and smart recognize ‘real fans’ of music to sell and reserve seats. We would aim to counter bots and scalpers in a small but meaningful way, while improving Ticketmaster’s “loyal-to-fans” brand image.
A partnership would also increase brand loyalty towards Spotify, giving users more incentive to use the service by being rewarded and branded as ‘real fans’. This partnership also helps Spotify stand out from competitors like Pandora (with TicketFly) and Apple Music. Additionally, we recognize that this has clear value for both sides, as addressed in Spotify’s recent public announcement that the partnership will be happening.