Take note, concertgoers. There’s a new ticketing game in town.
A pair of concert heavyweights joined forces this week when Opry Entertainment Group — which operates the Grand Ole Opry House and Ryman Auditorium, two of the busiest music halls in North America — confirmed an exclusive deal with AXS, an event ticketing company owned by global concert promoter AEG.
The move impacts ticketbuyers for hundreds of Nashville events, with the Grand Ole Opry House hosting roughly 220 shows annually and the Ryman closely behind at at estimated 200 concerts, per Opry Entertainment Group. The deal extends to daytime Ryman and Opry House tours, a popular stop for out-of-towners, as well as Ole Red, a line of honky-tonk bars branded with country singer Blake Shelton.
Partnering with AXS centralizes ticket-buying for Grand Ole Opry performances and Ryman shows, which previously used multiple vendors, including Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster. The Opry House began implemented AXS ticketing earlier this month; the Ryman begins transitioning to AXS ticket sales by the end of the year, said Scott Bailey, president of Opry Entertainment Group.
And the partnership opens doors for AEG — operator of behemoth West Coast country festival Stagecoach and international showcase C2C: Country to Country — and Opry Entertainment, which launched country lifestyle network Circle last year, to collaborate beyond the box office, Bailey said.
“This deal was an enterprise deal,” Bailey said, adding: “With that, we looked at every part of our business. How do we bring the Opry to other important festivals? [That’s] one example. … capturing content for Circle within those festivals is another aspect of that.”
“We looked at [Opry Entertainment Group] as a platform and delivering ‘the sum is greater than its parts’ kind of approach,” Bailey said. “It really is a comprehensive partnership and one we took very seriously.”
In the future, Opry Entertainment and AXS could cross-promote country tours and help grow respective audiences overseas, said Bryan Perez, AXS CEO and president; C2C exports Nashville stars annually for shows in Scotland, Ireland and England.
“Partnering with such iconic venues is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Perez said. “What we can do together made it more than just a ticketing deal and into a really exciting partnership.”
What does adopting AXS mean for Ryman and Opry House concertgoers? Fans can use the AXS Mobile ID to transfer or sell tickets to verified showgoers, ideally avoiding sought-after seats reaching resell brokers.
Mobile ID stores tickets in an AXS smartphone application, attaching tickets to a buyer profile that adds a layer of verification not often given to receiving a scannable barcode that — if purchased through a secondhand party — may be fraudulent.
Still, digital ticket scalping, often resulting in exorbitant resale prices, continues to plague sought-after music events. Using an identity-based platform gives AXS “a tremendous amount of detailed information” in combating ticketing fraud and ghost accounts programmed to buy seats for resale, Perez said.
“[Mobile ID] gives us the ability to do a little better forensics after the fact to look for patterns,” Perez said, “and help eliminate either fraud that can take place … and also figure out who’s purchasing tickets that may be circumventing ticket vendor rules.”