Music lovers may be show a reluctance to pay for their tunes, but they’re turning up in droves for live shows — at least according to the latest box office numbers posted by eMarketer. Concert ticket sales are expected to $9 billion worldwide this year, up nearly 10% over 2006.
Freshly launched Songkick is a startup looking to capitalize on that growing market by providing a simple way to discover live shows for artists you love along with the cheapest concert tickets. The impetus for the site grew out of the founder’s frustrations over no single concert site providing a comprehensive list of all the concerts they want to see. There would be some on Ticketmaster, others on LiveNation, and still more on resale at StubHub. So, they’ve created a comprehensive database that tracks concerts as they appear on the 14 different ticketing sites and across dozens of blogs. Currently they only cover the U.K. and U.S.
You can search the database and track shows and blog posts about your favorite acts, or download SongKicker, which automatically tracks artists you listen to. SongKicker is a plug-in for that pulls artists you listen to from iTunes, Windows Media Player, and Winamp. The process takes about 3 minutes and adds the artists to the tours you’re tracking. But worry not, you can always delete the band behind that musical guilty pleasure that isn’t really your taste.
Their site can also recommend new artists to you. But their recommendation engine works a bit differently than others. It’s not generated from the user base, like Last.fm, or through careful analysis like Pandora. Instead, Songkick crawls websites like Wikipedia and music blogs to pick up related artists based on positive or negative associations between the bands.
But the real payoff for the site is buying tickets. Kind of like a Sidestep for tickets, Songkick lets you find the cheapest tickets for these shows. Their search engine spans a variety of sources for both the primary and secondary ticketing market. Unfortunately, Songkick doesn’t actually expose the prices for each show directly in their search engine. You have to click through the site and do the comparison yourself. Songkick gets anywhere from $0.50 to $5 for each ticket sold.
Finally, they’ve packaged their ticketing search engine as a simple affiliate sales program for music bloggers. By installing a little plug-in, bloggers can automatically sell tickets related to the artists they write about through links at the bottom of posts. Their system finds the right artists by scanning the posts using the same positive and negative association technology as their recommendation engine. Positive posts about a band are coupled tickets, but a negative reference bashing Brittney Spears won’t start pushing her tickets on your fans.
Songkick is a Y Combinator financed startup currently bridging their operations between London and New York.