By Antony Bruno
Aching to see Fergie in concert? Don't expect to buy a paper ticket.
Verizon Wireless is sponsoring the Black Eyed Peas vocalist's 20-city
U.S. solo tour -- which kicked off May 8 in Seattle -- and in an
unprecedented move is controlling the entire ticket distribution process.
By doing so, Verizon is conducting what is perhaps the biggest mobile
ticketing experiment in the United States to date. Still, certain
hurdles will need to be overcome before mobile ticketing becomes
Verizon Wireless subscribers can get a ticket to Fergie's show via any
of the following mobile tie-ins: by downloading any of Fergie's songs
from the V Cast Music full-song download service or any of the new
Fergie TV content on V Cast; by buying any Verizon-enabled Motorola
phone; or by attending any of several planned in-store events at
either Verizon Wireless or Kohl's stores. Local radio stations will
make tickets available via various promotional activities. Those not
subscribing to Verizon will be able to acquire tickets only through
the in-store events and radio promotions.
Verizon will then send each fan a unique barcode that will be scanned
by a special reader at each venue for entry. Fans without phones who
receive the "ticket," as well as non-Verizon subscribers, will have to
pick up a ticket at the venue.
This isn't Verizon's first mobile ticketing move. It sponsored a
one-time show by the Fugees last year and has experimented with it on
a few Justin Timberlake concerts, among others.
"This is a scaled-up version of what we've done in the past," Verizon
associate director of music content Ed Ruth said. "We've been
perfecting the technology over time."
One problem in the past, in evidence at the Fugees concert, was that
the barcode readers equipped by the venue could not scan the barcode
displayed on the phone. Verizon has worked closely with Live Nation
venues to properly outfit them with the right type of scanner.
Still, those involved in making mobile ticketing a reality say that
many steps need to be taken for it to gain more traction. Other venues
would need to invest in scanning equipment, ticket brokers like
Ticketmaster would need to work more closely with wireless operators
on billing and delivery standards, and wireless operators would need
to work together to ensure cross-carrier interoperability.
Verizon is keen to do the heavy lifting on the mobile-ticketing front
because it is trying to revamp its image as more of a media and
entertainment company instead of a provider of simple phone calls,
"Phones historically have been used for voice and text messaging," he
said. "As we get into the content era, we want to help people get
access to the things they want and need."
The Fergie tour features a number of other mobile-related activities
as well. At each stop, a number of "green screens" similar to those
used in motion picture special effects will allow fans to dance to
Fergie songs and have their image inserted into the show footage. The
resulting video will be sent to fans' mobile phones, and fans creating
the best videos will have the chance to join Fergie onstage during
each show's finale.
Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.
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