You’ve probably heard of the little company called StubHub. Remember the last time you wanted urgent tickets to that can’t-miss show and didn’t want to talk to the sketchy scalpers that lurk around venues? Recently, StubHub has taken a new approach to the event experience and has shifted their focus to their Canadian clientele (that’s us!).
I had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Poirier, the man in charge of StubHub in Canada. It’s always fun talking to an American about Canadians and I had a bit of a chuckle listening to him explain how they are trying to remember that Canada is it’s own country. I had to bite back asking if he wanted me to teach him how to speak lumberjack, but all joking aside, we had a great conversation about what StubHub is trying to do for users, artists and the maple syrup inclined (us again!). I got him to dish on his favourite bands and we bonded over our shared love of live music.
Check out the interview below.
NU: Why don’t you tell me a little bit about StubHub?
Jeff: StubHub is a managed marketplace, a semi-fancy way of saying: we provide a platform for sellers to come list their tickets, at the price they want to list their tickets at. This is for a variety of sports, theatre and music events. Prices are based on simple supply and demand economics. And what we’ll do is make sure that the buyer gets their tickets, first off, whether its electronic, or if it’s through UPS. We have a fan-protect guarantee that ensures that they’ll get in. If they have any trouble, which we have a very low rate of occurrence, we’ll make that right with them.
On the seller side of things, we make sure that the ticket gets to the buyer, and that you get paid. The whole kind of premise is that we’re trying to give buyer’s choice; give them access to events that may or may not be sold out.
NU: That’s great – security is such a great point. As with other means to get second hand tickets like Craigslist, you don’t always know what you’re getting in with in regards to what you’ve purchased. Tell me about the new initiatives you guys are working on.
Jeff: The thing that I’m working with the team to push very hard on, is that we need to remember that Canada is it’s own separate country with its own cultural nuances, language needs and currency needs. So what we’re really working on [… is that] we aren’t just a place to go and buy your sports tickets. You can come to us and buy tickets for music, and even broader, we are actually putting together the entire end-to-end live event experience that starts from, ‘Hey I don’t know what to do’, to I can go to StubHub, research and look at unique content that our editorial teams are putting together to understand what this artists sounds like and why I might like them. Transact, if there’s inventory. And then go to the event and share it through our site and even after the event. So it’s the entire experience:
-What to do
-Sharing the experience
-Reliving it afterwards
One of the best ways we’ve tied that together is through StubHub Music. Have you tried it?
NU: I haven’t.
Jeff: I strongly urge you to download it. It’s several elements of that experience. It will sync to your iTunes playlist or with your Spotify playlist and we’re working on other integrations. But what it will do, is it will take a look at what you have and, using an algorithm, it will capture your taste, and show you in your geo, what’s going on. You can click on the artist and hear clips, read reviews; learn why that artist is relevant to you. You can favourite that artist and it will let you know if StubHub has tickets, or direct you to where to find them.
NU: Can I ask you some questions about your music preferences?
NU: So, you must love music being in this industry (and probably sports), but in terms of music, what is your favourite band?
Jeff: I have to caveat this with, I grew up during middle school and high school listening to punk. So anything from Rancid to NOFX from the Bay area, Bad Religion. I always like some throw back stuff to The Clash. Yeah, so I guess you could describe it as eclectic because I also enjoy some hip hop, like Swollen Members.
NU: Really? I haven’t heard that name in a while!
Jeff: The only genre I’m not against, but doesn’t resonate with me as much would be country. But I’m not against seeing it live. I think any live event, it spans any type of music and all genres. I think it doesn’t matter who you are, if you don’t enjoy a live music event … you know, whether it’s your primary genre or not, everyone loves live music. I’ve always loved a lot of Coldplay and U2 – old U2, like early 80’s. So that is kind of a broad spectrum.
NU: But a good spectrum. What’s your favourite band that you’ve seen live?
Jeff: You know there’s one band I’ve seen live before and I’m going to see them again, Social Distortion. I’m going to see them in September.
NU: So you have a way to generate user stats, am I right?
Jeff: We do.
NU: Can I ask what are some of the big Canadian shows this summer?
Jeff: Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Foo Fighters. We’ve seen a lot of traction from music festivals, like OVO, where a lot of the buyers are American. And they cross the border to come to that festival specifically.
Me: Which is the most expensive ticket?
Jeff: One of the ones I mentioned, Ed Sheeran. One thing I do want to say about that though, a connotation with the secondary market is that tickets are very expensive, beyond face value. That definitely exists, certainly with concerts. But we often have a large percentage of tickets on our site that get sold below face value. So, we do want people to keep that in mind. You may pay less.
NU: That’s right. And you guys have all kinds of music right, not just the big names; you’ll have indie shows that are a little smaller on the radar?
Jeff: Yes, I’m glad you asked. One of the things that we are trying to provide is value directly to the box office or venue; directly to the artists. One of the ways we’re doing that is allowing for artists or box offices to list their primary inventory directly through StubHub as a distribution channel. So they aren’t resold, they are tickets directly out of the artists’ hands sometimes, then they can use our brand awareness and user base to distribute tickets. We’re very focused on not just the big names, but moving more into the indie type bands.
If this isn’t a reason to use StubHub next time, I don’t know what is. That and knowing you will definitely be getting into the show.