Is selling concert tickets on Facebook the future?
It's too early to gauge how big a deal Rams Head Live's move to sell concert tickets on Facebook really is.
But here's a couple of reasons why it could be significant: for one, it's another gimmick to sell tickets for an industry that's quickly running out of options to goose up sales.
But more importantly, it's a gimmick that anticipates a time, fast-approaching, when the social networking site will be integral to people's lives. And that's a bet even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is making.
Concert sales have been declining nationwide for the last five years. Blame the economy, expensive tickets, veteran acts who refuse to call it quits, but revenue still dropped $200 million from 2008 to 2009, according to trade magazine Pollstar.
When I talked to Frank Remesch, general manager at 1st Mariner Arena, he prefaced his thoughts on the Rams Head move by saying something that editors at Pollstar had also told me: everyone's looking for new ways to sell concert tickets. Many have even taken a sort of Groupon approach, offering discounted tickets for major acts.
"I admire Rams Head. [Owner] Bill Muehlhauser is always trying to keep things fresh," Remesch said. "Anything that helps our business is good for me."
But the more significant reason why Rams Head's move could work is the social networking site itself.
Recognizing that Americans already spend more time on Facebook than on any other website, the site is moving in a direction where it would become a one stop shop for all kinds of media needs.
Last week, Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Messages, a new e-mail service that comes with an @facebook.com address. It's a move aimed at slowly integrating the span of the online experience at one handy location.
Integrated communications, a Yahoo! boos told the New York Times, is the future.
So Rams Head's move is a natural progression for them as well as for the site, and could be a harbinger of things to come.
"Social media has become a huge part of business," Rams Head Group vice president Erin McNaboe told me last week. "People aren't using it just for day to day interaction with friends, but to figure out where they're going on the weekend."
What's surprising is that no one - not I.M.P., Goldenvoice, Stubhub, MissionTix, Ticketfly,Ticketmaster, and not even Facebook, actually - had thought of it before. But maybe Facebook will get 15 other engineers to come up with its own ticketing vendor if Messages proves to be a success.
Remesch, though, remains dubious of Facebook sales. "Is it better for the customer? It seems like it removes an extra step," he told me. "Will it drive sales or push them over another venue? In my humble opinion, I don't think so."
For Rams Head, as well as for Messages, the question is still, will users abandon their standby websites - Gmail or Ticketmaster - for a new Facebook-centric alternative?
Will you buy concert tickets on Facebook?