Exec Profile: Emma Peterson of Tikly

emma-peterson-musicconnectionEmma Peterson
Founder & CEO, Tikly
Years with Company: 2
Address: 317 6th Ave., Ste. 500, Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: 800-845-5920
Web: http://tikly.co
Email: [email protected]
Clients: the Nadas, Bess Rogers, Langhorne Slim & the Law, Steve Poltz, Dan Navarro, Charlene Kaye, Bay Area Metal Festival, Des Moines Music Coalition, Gross Domestic Product Festival, Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

BACKGROUND: As a music fan, Emma Peterson personally experienced how the ticketing industry was letting down the average concertgoer. While managing the Nadas, she gained insight into the many ways that same infrastructure also failed to serve the needs of artists and venues. Wanting to right this injustice, at just 21 years old she launched Tikly, a web-based ticketing solution that places both control and money back into the hands of those who deserve it. One-dollar is added to tickets less than $10, 10 percent on tickets between $10 and $75, and $7.50 to any ticket over $75.

Rude Awakening:
I started out as an intern for the Nadas and then they hired me for their record label. While touring with them I quickly found that the ticketing industry didn’t do anything good for the buyer. That wasn’t a surprise, although it was irritating. I’ve had those experiences where I buy a ticket in advance and think, why is it $3 more expensive to buy in advance than at the door? Not only did it not do anything good for the buyer, but also the ticketing industry almost had no concern for the seller.

From One Entrepreneur to the Next:
I have a communications degree from the University of Northern Iowa. I graduated a year early in 2010 and split my time working for a video game company and Authentik Records managing the Nadas. [The weekends] of that year I spent in Meat Loaf’s old tour bus. In that time, I got to know artists and venue owners and learned every angle of the touring musician’s world.

Sticker Shock:
We were selling tickets for a local show and were the promoters as well. I did the social media for the band, so I posted online and put on our posters and things, “Please buy your tickets in advance.” And [the fans’] response was, “Why is it $5 more expensive to buy in advance?” [I said], “That’s a good question.” So I went to the ticketing site and found it was about a 49 percent service fee, which took me by surprise. They almost could have bought a CD with that money. They could have bought some kind of refreshment with that money. That doesn’t seem appropriate.

Picture This:
In addition, the information regarding how many albums we’d sold was grossly incorrect. The image associated with the event was an album released from when I was about five years old. That seemed absolutely wrong. I’m thinking, how many press kits have I built for this band? How hard have we worked to establish a brand? I called, I emailed, I did my best to get that information edited and found myself in a position where I had to accept defeat. That drove me to start asking every band we played with and every venue, what do you like about your ticketing company? What do you hate about the ticketing industry?

Ticket to Hell:
I thought, there has to be a software solution. I explored things like Eventbrite and Ticketfly. I even spent some time on the Ticketmaster website. Sure enough, I found that artists were most comfortable using PayPal to accept funds in advance. That’s a Band-Aid solution. Venue owners would rather say, call us, we’ll write your name down in advance or take cash in an envelope. It needed to be changed.

First, Fulfill a Need:
I didn’t want to build a company. I just said, wow, there really is no good solution out there. I interviewed musicians who’ve been on the road for about as long as I’ve been alive and venue owners who have worked with five other ticketing companies and event organizers who finally are leaving their contract with a ticketing company, and their solution was to just put an email address on their website. People were hurting for a solution and it’s been really cool to be there for both the ticket seller and the buyer.

Explosive Sales:
I created the word Tikly on April 17th, 2011 and our first shows were June of 2011. I effectively joined 30 different teams of clients, ranging from venue owners to event organizers to musicians. That was kind of the beta experience. We did a festival that year that was maybe a month ahead when we got tickets live for this wine festival. We sold 140 tickets and it felt good. The next year, we sold over 2,000 tickets to that same event. Similarly, we have success stories with artists. Because they can provide a more positive ticketing experience and allow for the preselling of merchandise, their profits have gone through the roof. For the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, we sold about 8,000 tickets in three minutes and 22 seconds.

Evil Vs. Half Evil:
Ticketmaster is too big. They’ve got a way of doing things and it would take a lot for them to change. Other companies have seemingly found comfort in being the lesser of two evils. If Ticketmaster can charge $13 worth of service fees on a $15 ticket, then it’s cool that Ticketfly can charge $5 on a $15 ticket. That removes some of the pain, but it’s not good enough. Just because you can be the lesser of two evils doesn’t mean you should. It’s a real business opportunity to put your foot down and say yes to integrity. The ticketing company doesn’t own the tickets. We are a solution by which our fans, venues and clients are able to sell their tickets. They’re the ones that put in the time and effort to put on a show. At the end of the day, the tickets belong to the people who conceived the event and the artists.

Certain features on our to-do list have gotten moved to the top, including promoter utilities and a more in-depth social media sharing utility. Both of those things you’ll see within the next six to eight months. I’ve got this incredible host of clients that we’ve gotten feedback from and rethought how we do things.

The Wisdom of a Village:
I had a really good life working for a video game company and a record label and traveling with a band. That was something I could’ve done for quite some time, so I was a little worried to let that go. The thing I’ve learned since then that eliminated all fear and concern is being able to admit when there is something I don’t know. I don’t let my ego or assumptions get in [the way]. I believe it takes a village. Tikly is the brainchild of so many people who have lived on the road, owned venues, closed venues, run start-ups, sold start-ups and even had failed start-ups.

Quick and Easy:
It takes 20 seconds to sign up. Just go to the website and click Start Selling. There’s no contractual obligation or set-up costs. Send us an email and we’ll be in touch. We want to be a positive part of what ticket sellers do.

By Andy Kaufmann