Josh Dziabiak and Lynsie Camuso of ShowClix
Innovative firms within the music industry are redefining how artists conduct business. More and more companies focus on fair business practices and excellent customer service as a way to better serve the artist or client. ShowClix is one of many companies with an eye on doing just that. American Songwriter took a moment with CEO Josh Dziabiak and President Lynsie Camuso to explore the service and features of this full-service ticketing firm.
What is ShowClix?
LC: We’re a full service ticketing company. We’ve built an entirely web-based ticketing solution that allows our clients to [sell] tickets online, over the phone and through a point-of-sale box office application that we have also developed. Our clients are venues, event promoters, non-profit organizations, universities, schools. Anybody who can host or promote an event could potentially be a client.
What are your roles at ShowClix?
JD: I’m Josh Dziabiak, the CEO. Being a CEO, I wear many different hats. I tend to lean a little bit more to the product development and marketing end of things. I like to focus a lot on what it is that we’re developing, where we’re headed with the technology and how we can best market it. Outside of that, I deal with a little bit of everything from HR to sales.
LC: I’m Lynsie Camuso, President of the company. Same as Josh, I wear a lot of hats here. My biggest focus is on marketing and sales, business development, HR, recruiting, and client retention,
What is the story behind starting ShowClix?
JD: The story is interesting. I had a company prior to starting ShowClix. After selling that company, I started investing in some different ideas I had. ShowClix wasn’t started originally to be a full service ticketing company. It came about because my roommate and I were sitting at home on the couch one evening talking about things to do in Pittsburgh. At that time, when you thought of search you thought of Google, when you thought of social networking you thought of MySpace, but when you thought of events, there wasn’t one destination Website.
So, originally, the concept came as, “Let’s develop a Website that’s a destination place for people to find and promote upcoming events. We wanted to connect event goers with event promoters. As the project progressed, the business model became ticketing. A very light version of the ticketing system as built and we started getting our feet wet with it. The more we worked on it, the more passion we found for it. We saw a lot of need for it in the marketplace. While the ticketing industry as a whole is very noisy, we felt the competitors left a lot of room for improvement. We had a lot of great ideas, so, we switched our business model from an event destination site to a full-service ticketing company. Today, that is what we would call ourselves: a full-service ticketing company.
What separates you from the noise of your competing ticketing vendors?
JD: For one, our system is entirely web-based, from the ticket seller’s administrative area, to the way that we deliver tickets – which is always electronic via print at home or mobile, to the actual box office system that our clients use.
Since it’s all web based, and completely automated, it has allowed us to really lower our overhead. We don’t have to pay people to stuff tickets in envelopes and mail them out. We aren’t paying retailers to sell on our behalf. Because we minimize our cost, it allows us to pass the savings on to the ticket buyers. It’s less expensive for them.
In addition, we give our clients a lot of tools. Our theory is, any way we can help them sell more tickets, the better for them, the better for us. And we generally don’t charge our clients anything to use the platform. That’s why we call ourselves “Simply Fair Ticketing.”
Also, customer service is very big for us. We believe in quick response times, in being easily accessible and in always being fair toward the ticket buyer. We don’t want the ticket buying experience to override what the event could have been.
LC: You can contact our customer service department and our account managers by phone or live chat and you’re guaranteed to get in touch with somebody. If you reach out to us via email, as Josh mentioned, we really care about fast response times. You will hear back from us within one business day. That is really important to us.
Josh and I actually met while working for another Internet company. His background is in Internet and the music industry. My background is in the entertainment industry and Internet as well. We had both experienced the ticketing industry from either side of the equation. We had worked as ticket sellers and had seen the difficulty in selling tickets online. We knew that there could be a better, easier way to do it. On the flip side, we were both ticket buyers as well. We’d experienced being over charged for tickets. So, in addition to making selling tickets easier, we knew we could make it more affordable for ticket buyers too.
What is your point of sale system?
LC: We took what is typically available in an actual [piece of] software, something that comes on a CD that you install it on your computer, and we made it entirely web-based. The system really allows a very simple way for people to open up a laptop or computer of any kind with internet connection, launch the point of sale system and start processing orders, whether they’re cash orders, credit cards or checks. Our clients can accept all three types of payment right there and issue them a ticket. One of the things that is important to us is that, even though the system is web-based, that it still work with some hardware. We have USB credit card readers that plug right in and let our clients to swipe a credit card. It hooks up with Boca thermal printers to print physical tickets directly from the point of sale application. We also have ticket scanners that interact with every part of our administrative area. As you scan people in, it authenticates the ticket and barcode against our database of the ticket buyers in real-time.
The point of sale system is something that we will be focusing on a lot on in 2010. We’ll be revamping our existing platform and adding as many bells and whistles as we can while keeping it web-based. Another big initiative is to make it ready for a kiosk. It will be a touch screen device, as well as, being able to work on an actual computer of any kind.
How does your service work?
JD: We have two different ways to get started. We break it down by the size of the event and the level of support the client needs. If they’re looking for something for a small, general admission event with quick setup, we have what we call our “Lite” option, which is basically hands-off for us. It’s a fully-automated wizard the event promoter. They go online and in just five steps they put their event on sale and get an account created. They can start selling tickets right away.
The other option is for somebody who needs a little bit more support. It might be a more serious client that relies heavily on their ticket sales, They might need hardware or more advanced functionality. We have a “Premier” solution for those clients. Keep in mind, both of the solutions have the same fee structure. We don’t change anything, it’s just about the level of support. The biggest thing for us is trying to identify what the unique needs are for each venue or ticket seller. There is always something unique with our clients. We try to highlight the features that will help accommodate those unique elements of their business.
We do have a standard ticketing service agreement for the “Premier” clients. Once we get that taken care of, we setup the first event and customize it for them. We make an investment in the client. We don’t ask for any money up front.
How much does it cost?
JD: Our service fees are based on the face value of the ticket. The lower the price of the ticket, the lower the fee, but it is a higher percentage on the low end. On the higher price tickets, it’s a little bit of lower percentage, but it comes out to be a higher fee per ticket. The percentage is between seven and 15 percent approximately.
When we originally launched, we had a more complex fee structure. We had setup fees and transaction fees. We decided to strip all of that out and just go with a simple per ticket service fee. This is the only fee that is involved with using our platform. No matter what features you want to use, how many tickets you sell or what level of access you need, it’s always just a per-ticket-fee and it’s always on the same sliding scale. The fee is based off the face value of the ticket. It includes credit card processing and everything. Most of our clients choose to pass that fee onto the ticket buyer. When they do that, they make 100 percent of their ticket sales and it will never cost them a dime to use our platform.
Do you offer any additional promotional tools or materials for musicians?
JD: Up until now, we’ve really been focused on giving our clients as many features as possible that help them understand who their ticket buyers are and where they come from geographically. We are giving them the ability to use that data for marketing purposes and whatever promotional tools that you are already using to promote and sell more tickets. We’re currently working on implementing new ways to help our clients promote their events. One of the big things we are trying to tackle is all of the social networking opportunities out there, whether they are Twitter, Facebook apps, these different web elements. We are starting to install a lot of those features and put them into place to help out with the viral aspect of people promoting the event all the way down to people actually buying the ticket. That’s one of the things we are looking forward to in the first quarter of 2010.
LC: I think it’s really important that we continue to watch the trends on the internet and be ahead of the curve when the opportunity exists to help our clients promote using new technology. It’s about understanding the power of Twitter, the momentum of Facebook and then capturing that power and providing the functionality to our clients.
How has ShowClix connected with the music industry to bring artists exclusive offers and options?
JD: Right now, we are in early stage discussions with a few different companies. Some of our clients, for example a company called Rainmaker Artists, an artist management company, have found great success using our platform selling tickets [in advance] directly to their artists’ fan base. They have Bob Schneider and Blue October on their roster. For every leg of a tour, they’ll take a small portion of the tickets from the venue and sell them [in advance] directly to the fan clubs. They have had great success and they’re a great client for us. Not only does it help the artists and the management companies, it also helps the fans by giving them a way to get tickets before the general public at a discounted price. Generally, the public ticket sales go through one of our competitors that has higher service fees. So, when the fans buy through our platform, it’s a little bit more affordable, they get the better seats and they get them before everybody else.
We see a lot of opportunity with artists of any size. We feel like our system works great for concerts and shows whether they are general admission or seated, large or small. We feel it’s a good solution for them. Again, it’s something we are really looking forward to working on.
We’re actually talking with Topspin, Grooveshark. We’re also in early discussions with Our Stage.
What are you hoping to cultivate with these companies?
JD: A partnership which puts us in front of artists and allows their audience to sell tickets to their Websites seamlessly within the partners Website. We would have some benefits, promotional wise, to do that for the artists whether its promotion through the partners’ Websites or ours or both.
LC: We’ve recently developed and launched an API (application programming interface) that will allow the companies that we build partnerships with to seamlessly integrate ShowClix into their Website. If the company has an audience that may have a need for a ticketing solution, they can now use our API to provide that service to them.
Have you conquered the world – is the word out about ShowClix?
JD: We certainly have not conquered the world. I do think that we’re starting to make a name for ourselves. As we grow, we’re seeing more and more people jumping on board through word of mouth. I see the quality and number of our clients growing and a big portion of them is from word of mouth. It leads me to believe that we are definitely starting to get our brand out there. It’s spreading pretty quickly. We have a lot of things up our sleeve and we are very excite to push them out there. I think it’ll really help our name get out there even more.
Do you find viral marketing to be more valuable than traditional marketing and advertising to your business?
LC: Absolutely. The word of mouth and referrals that we get from other clients are priceless. Event promotion, especially within music, is a small industry. A lot of promoters and venue managers know each other. They recommend services to each other. I think it says a lot when I get a call and a client has referred another venue to us because of the level of service they received from ShowClix. Not only do you not have to pay for that, but [also] you are getting somebody that comes to you qualified. You know they are serious about their business. They trust somebody to give them a recommendation. We’ve done very well when it comes to word of mouth and referrals.
What role do you see ShowClix playing in the industry over the next decade?
JD: We like to think of ourselves as “Ticketing 2.0.” because we are really trying to reinvent the ticketing industry both technically speaking and in the way these relationships work between venue and event promoter and ticketing company. We really want to be positioned and seen as the alternative and fair ticketing company that came along and did things a little bit different and improved on the ticketing industry as a whole. That is really our big picture in the sky, if you will. That is what we are trying to do.
What’s the most important part of what you do?
JD: I am a big believer in customer service, having the best possible customer service that we can. I really like the idea of having a ticket buyer anywhere in the world calling our company with a support question and hanging up the phone to have that wow reaction of actually being able to speak to someone that was friendly, helpful and was able to resolve their matter quickly. That’s really big for me and it’s something I will always be pushing for as we grow.
LC: What I really enjoy most is taking a step back and looking at our ticketing system from our clients’ point of view. I like knowing that we’re constantly being innovative in what we do, making it user-friendly for ticket sellers, giving them a great system. A lot of our clients make the majority of their revenue from ticketing. Being able to provide them with a great system that’s supported by excellent customer service is what really drives me everyday.
A lot of independent artists are making money from touring now. They aren’t selling albums like they used to. Providing them with a technology that helps them sustain their existence as an independent artist means a lot to us.