WillCall wants to be Square Card Case for music venues, allowing you to pay for your whole concert experience from mobile. So to expand beyond tickets and go international it’s raised $1.2 million from SV Angel, Sean Parker, and european angel Oliver Jung to hit a total of $2.1 million in funding. The hope is that venues will be eager to integrate because when you don’t see the dollars you’re spending, you spend more.
It’s already working on me. I buy more concert tickets because WillCall is so easy. Open it in San Francisco or New York and you get a curated list of local shows you can buy entry to in a few taps. When friends buy, you get a push notification nudging you to join the fun. Those are huge, because few people want to go to concerts alone.
At first WillCall was aiming to get people discounts on tickets, but found its sales growing quickly enough at full price that its now focusing on adding value by making concert payments quick and mobile-first — unlike the traditional ticket sites. That’s smart considering where the music industry is going.
WillCall’s co-founder Donnie Dinch explains that because of democratization of music production and distribution in the digital age, “There are fewer artists that can sell 10,000 tickets but more who can sell 500. We’re creating a casual use case that facilitates people seeing a show as often as they go to a bar or coffee shop.” WillCall’s about getting you into tons of concerts and letting you pay for everything there, not getting you a few dollars off the occasional stadium show.
Signing up users is crucial, but to really grow, WillCall needs access to more venues and popular shows. That’s why its getting serious about helping out the concert halls. They make most of their money off of drinks, so if WillCall can prove it can sell more booze for them, venues will fling open their doors to the app. WillCall also wants to give venue owners analytics on who attends their gigs which could let them cut costs through more targeted marketing.
The new funding brings in some serious music heavyweights that can give WillCall more clout in the industry. Those include Parker (Napster and Spotify), Oliver Luckett (founder and CEO of theAudience), music management powerhouse Coran Capshaw (founder of Red Light Management and ATO Records), entertainment attorney John Frankenheimer, and A&R and music management force Bruce Flohr. On the startup side SV Angel is following on with more funding, plus WillCall has brought on Joe Gebbia (co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Airbnb), and European angel Oliver Jung who helped Airbnb flourish overseas.
Eventually, I hope WillCall or similar mobile apps solve the scalping problem through tickets associated with your identity, last minute mobile distribution, and loyalty programs. That could make it so touts can’t buy out shows as soon as they go on sale, then turn around and rip off fans. WillCall could one day even let venues reclaim some of that lost revenue through dynamic surge pricing. If WillCall’s goal is to make the concert experience for fans and venues, there are few pain points as thorny as scalping.