Ticketmaster is officially launching its first set of public APIs and SDKs, which will allow third-party apps to integrate its ticket discovery, purchasing, and management services directly into their app. The tools are available through Ticketmaster's new developer portal.
"We want to explore new partnerships with big brands and startups," Ismail El Shareef, VP of open platform and innovation at Ticketmaster told The Verge. "Anyone out there who wants to build an innovative live event experience for fans, we are in the market to work with and help them succeed with using our data."
The two main APIs Ticketmaster is releasing this week are a discovery API and a transactional API. Discovery will allow developers to include Ticketmaster’s lineup of events directly into their apps, and the transactional API will let users purchase tickets through third-party apps. Ticketmaster is also introducing a set of native SDKs for iOS and Android to allow for ticket management, including transferring and selling tickets to other users.
The first wave of partners will include Fox Sports, Facebook, Tidal, Broadway.com, and Bandsintown, which is the first app to use Ticketmaster’s transactional API. During your first transaction with an app using Ticketmaster's APIs, your accounts will be linked so you don’t have to authenticate every time you want to manage your tickets or make a purchase in that particular app.
Fox Sports, Facebook, Tidal, and Broadway.com are among the first partners
The ticketing service and Live Nation subsidiary has shared its private API with a select group of companies, including Groupon and ScoreBig, for some time, but that API was designed for internal use, and was complicated for external developers to understand and integrate. Instead of building in more workarounds, Ticketmaster decided to build an entirely new set of APIs from the ground up with Apigee, an API management firm whose clients include eBay and Adobe.
Jared Smith, Ticketmaster’s president of North America, tells me that the company has been working on updating its platform for the past few years. "We had to build some new capabilities. We had to be a modern platform that had modern infrastructure to be more nimble and more flexible in today's economy," Smith said. "We’ve done a lot of investment, specifically over the past two to three years, to open up the platform and make our core capabilities available to other to compliment our services."
Ticketmaster switching to a public API is potentially a big deal for apps focused on sports and music. Apps like ESPN could offer ticketing options for every major sports league, and music-streaming services could become a one-stop shop for all your music needs, something a few streaming services have been trying to achieve with varied success.
"We had to build some new capabilities."
Spotify recently integrated Songkick into its apps, and Tidal has partnered with Ticketmaster to give subscribers early access to some tickets (neither support in-app purchasing). Pandora took it a step further and spent $450 million to acquire TicketFly in a bid to compete directly with Ticketmaster. The deal still may pan out well for the company, but if other streaming services like Apple Music and SoundCloud end up offering just about every major concert thanks to Ticketmaster integration, it becomes a far less unique advantage.
While sports and music are two of Ticketmaster’s key categories, the company is looking to introduce its ticket offerings into new categories of apps where it hasn’t gained a foothold yet, like social media and travel.
"Certainly social is ripe for opportunity across a dozen different partners in that space," Smith told me. Ticketmaster already provides its API to Facebook to power live event pages for artists, and Twitter could be next. Ticketmaster’s API could allow social networks like Twitter to do things like integrate in-app ticket purchasing into search results or Moments, when a big game or concert becomes the talk of Sports and Music Twitter.
Smith says travel is also a category that Ticketmaster could venture into thanks to new integration opportunities provided by the API. "Travel is a huge category that we think could be really interesting to us," Smith told me. "There’s not a great set of partners out there that are looking at, 'Hey I’m going to be in New York, could I add on event tickets to my purchase,' or 'I’m going on vacation and I want to to book all that stuff at once.'" Smith added, "We’re really taking a broad view to it from a category perspective and saying, how can we make a mix of these things that really helps us solve our issues."
Ticketmaster's API could take away the advantage from streaming services, like Pandora and Spotify, with ticketing options
The two biggest problems Smith sees facing Ticketmaster are bots and brokers who buy up tickets in bulk and resell them on the secondary market to the detriment of the actual consumer. When tickets went on sale for Adele’s tour this past December, Ticketmaster had over 10 million requests for just over 400,000 tickets. Many of those requests were from brokers and bots looking to sell the tickets at a higher price. Smith believes that tickets are underpriced for many major events and that the low prices spur on brokers and end up costing the consumer more in the long run.
"Generally speaking, the industry underprices its tickets, by and large. It doesn’t have a big enough spread between really, really premium prices, and really, really affordable value prices," Smith said. Ticketmaster’s public API means more apps can tap into it, and more apps means improved consumer awareness for ticket availability. If Ticketmaster can get its product in front of a bigger and more diverse group of actual consumers, it believes it will help avoid scalpers and eventually properly set pricing for the market.
"If you can attack the actual disease which is pricing inefficiencies you can actually take away a lot of that traffic which is there only because [brokers] think they can arbitrage them," Smith said.