To start with, who are DICE and what are they all about?
“DICE is the only place where fans can buy face value tickets to the best gigs, club nights and festivals with no booking fees. When we say no booking fees, we don’t mean ‘no hidden fees’, we mean the price the artist and promoter intended you to pay and not a penny more.”
“Tickets are linked to the device they’re purchased on making them completely tout proof and, as it’s 100% mobile, you’ll never need to worry about a last minute dash to buy more ink cartridges.”
Having looked at several different articles and web sources about the mobile app I have tried to compile a SWOT analysis based on what I’ve found out.
Knowledge of the music industry
Relying on funding
Most people have a smartphone and are used to using apps
Growing discontent with traditional ticketing sites and ticket touts
Competition from big ticketing companies
Open market for similar ideas
Looking first at the internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) I find they they have quite a good foundation to stand on. The CEO of DICE, Phil Hutcheon, has a background with both record labels and artist management, something that helps with understanding the industry they are working with and the markets they are aiming at. Partnering with the digital product studio Ustwo, known among other things for their award winning mobile game “Monument Valley”, DICE is definitely backed by the competence to make and carry out a great app. Another strength to give attention to is the fact that they curate which gigs make it to the app, so as to deliver what their customers want.
The main weakness I’ve found is that they’re relying on financial backing from investors rather than making money from their sales (October, 2014), as the margins on ticket sales, especially with no fees, are very slim indeed. This being said, there is solid backing from such investors as White Star Capitals, the founder of Metropolis Music and the founders of Google DeepMind.
This leads me to their opportunities, first and foremost data gathering from the users of the app. Being able to sell collected data on to management, labels and promoters could of course widen the profit margins. Taking a broader view, they are utilising the fact that most people now have a smartphone and considers printing off their tickets more of a chore than a convenience. There is also a growing discontent with traditional ticketing sites and all of their fees, for example Ticketweb takes out a £2.50 fee for the privilege of printing your ticket at home. Being able to provide a service not only free from booking and delivery fees, but that is also making it harder for touts to buy and then resell tickets at hugely inflated prices, is a great opportunity to become the go to ticketing service for music fans.
While possibly being the next big thing, the huge ticketing companies such as Ticketmaster are still out there and turning the people using these sites into DICE users may be a hard days work. People like what they trust and are used to, and I feel there is still a lot of trust put in having a physical ticket rather than a QR code on a mobile screen. There is also the issue that the time might be precisely right for this kind of ticketing service, leading to new companies competing about the market.
One point I elected to not include in the SWOT-analysis is that DICE have decided to start small, in just a few cities, rather than all over the UK at once. Currently being live in London, Cardiff, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow this still leaves quite a bit of territory uncovered. As I see it, this is mainly a strength but can leave them open to both opportunities and threats.
A strength in that they can start out covering these areas well and getting to know them intimately while building strong relationships with promoters, artists and management. Gaining a good reputation in a few areas first will lead to opportunities in that the industry may turn to them first when in comes to allocating tickets for new tours, both where DICE are already active and where they decide to go next.
Leaving places open to the competition while they strengthen their bases in a few areas will leave them open to the threat of being pushed ut of these other markets though, as the industry in the not yet covered markets may already have a relationship with a competing business. One such company could be Una tickets, a recently launched company based in Milton Keynes. They operate on a similar ground rule – no booking fees, but have based this around a personal RFID smart card rather than tickets on the app. To get this card there is a one off fee of £5.99, and a further £3.50 if you would like to verify that you are 18 or older and so be able to buy drinks at events without other ID than your smart card.
The basic ideas of Una are similar to DICE’ though, which makes them quite a real competitor. Una aims to find a solution to touting and counterfeit tickets while not pushing costs on the customer. They claim to be fed up with the way Ticketmaster and other ticketing sites treat their customers, very much like DICE. Una on the other hand have opted to go live in the whole of UK, when they do go live, as the company is still in beta.
Personally I believe that DICE has a bright future ahead of them, as we live in an ever more digital world and I think that providing a service that is fast, reliable and excludes touts will make a big difference when people decide where to buy their tickets.