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Pandora, Facebook Sold Their Souls to Wall Street

Stocks in this article: P FB GOOG AAPL

On Tuesday, Ticketfly announced a deal with The Roxy, a legendary Sunset Strip music club. Ticketfly already reps West Hollywood's Troubadour and loads of small-to-medium size venues across the country.

This TechCrunch piece does an excellent job explaining what Ticketfly does, but, long story short, they're basically a Ticketmaster music fans and musicians can be proud of.

Ticketfly takes the data it collects from its users -- what shows they go to, the venues they prefer, where they live, etc. -- and uses it to helps concert bookers make informed decisions. For many clubs booking shows comes down to little more than guesswork, particularly if they're attempting to fill multiple slots each week and, in some cases, nightly.

This scheduling uncertainty, in part, has created the simply unjust "pay-for-play" environment many local acts have to deal with. I expose pay-for-play for the tragedy it is in Pandora Isn't the Enemy, the Music Industry is, Part 2, but, in short, local clubs across the country routinely employ a practice that, essentially, makes bands pay to play their venues:

... if you're one of the many relative "no-names" who gets asked to play the Troubadour. You need to -- and this has become the deflated catch phrase of countless local bands in these parts -- "bring people out." The band I wrote about claims they needed to "bring out" 60 to 80 people. If they fail to do this, they're on the hook for every cover charge below that number. So, because of the lopsided risk/reward, they're not playing the Troubadour.

Sadly, pay-for-play has become the norm throughout Los Angeles and other parts of the country. Everybody involved throws their hands up and exclaims: "That's just the way it is." Most bands and industry people simply don't care. It's not even an issue on their radar. Struggling local bands are too scared to speak out. Simply put, this machine has them by the balls.

But Ticketfly could change this. I'm not sure if that's ever crossed the company's collective mind, but it might end up a consequence of their fantastic business model and dynamic platform. You have less of a need to use "pay-for-play" at your venue if you're making better-informed decisions about which acts to book.

This brings us back to Pandora.

Where are they in this mix? Everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.

It's not simply that Pandora's local promotion efforts and use of data to tap the music industry's potential is lacking, it's that -- in meaningful practice -- it's non-existent. We've been hearing about an "artist's dashboard" for weeks and a "heat map" for years now -- two products apparently in development to help bands better organize tours -- but to say these and other efforts have made a dent in the problems would be a gross overstatement.

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