Speaking at Elev8CON in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, Ticketmaster’s vice president of blockchain products Sandy Khaund discussed the value smart contracts can bring to the ticketing industry, a market expected to reach over $6.23 billion by 2025.
Khaund emphasized the notion that ticket providers should consider treating tickets like smart contracts in order to create scalability, seamless integration with other service providers and extensibility for new revenue opportunities.
“Our goal is to support 400–500 million tickets using smart contracts and blockchain technology,” Khaund said on stage.
Earlier this year, Ticketmaster announced that it sold 73 million concert tickets, up over 4 million on the year. According to Khaund, Ticketmaster is responsible for 475 million tickets per year.
As this number continues to increase, Khaund explained that Ticketmaster is focused purely on the business value blockchain can bring and understanding how to bring that to customers.
“We want fans to get more value out of their tickets, while ensuring that tickets end up in the right hands. Blockchain is the only technology that can do this by using smart contracts to digitally define the ticketing industry,” said Khaund.
Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between the buyer and seller written into lines of code. The code and agreements contained on smart contracts exist on a blockchain network, making transactions trackable and irreversible.
Ticketmaster initially started thinking about applying smart contracts to tickets last year, after it had acquired Khaund’s previous company, Upgraded. Ticketmaster has since planned to use Upgraded’s blockchain technology to digitize tickets into interactive units that function through encrypted barcodes to protect and improve the ticketing process.
“Ticketmaster has technology that is almost 40 years old. Using smart contracts on a blockchain network creates a unique system for Ticketmaster by writing code for each ticket we sell. We run this over a private blockchain network to ensure privacy and optimization around tickets,” said Khaund.
The Pearl Jam use case
To explain how this works, Khaund described a recent use case performed by Ticketmaster internally using smart contracts. Dubbed the “Pearl Jam” use case, Khaund mentioned when Pearl Jam performed a series of hometown shows to help raise money for homeless populations. He noted that Pearl Jam wanted to charge $150 per ticket, which became problematic when those tickets were being sold for well over that amount.
“Some people wanted to pay more than $150 per ticket, even though they were purchased at this price. We needed to make these tickets non-transferable, so we gave out two tickets. The first went to the issuer and couldn’t be transferred. The second ticket could only be transferred once. We were able to do this in 15 minutes once we wrote a smart contract for this use case, which contained an overriding function around transfers, along with a transfer counter,” explained Khaund.
While this use case is impressive as a concept, Khaund also stated the importance of using blockchain without having people realize that it’s being utilized.
“We want people to like our products. It’s not about the technology for the end-users.”
In order to continue to drive blockchain adoption, Khaund noted that Ticketmaster is focused on three main goals moving forward — integration, performance and extensibility.
“Our job is to make sure the integration process for tickets is seamless with other systems, like SafeTix. We also plan to support millions of tickets that won’t cause lag time for customers. Finally, we plan to make tickets smarter. This technology is programmable by nature and we need to continue coming up with creative use cases.”