As Covid-19 has befogged any realistic timetable for the return of live music, English singer-songwriter Jacob Collier is trying something new while he prepares for his yet to-be-dated 91-show tour. Rather than announce new dates and ticket sales and hope touring can resume in a given time slot, Collier will employ a reservation system through a partnership with ticket reseller Lyte that guarantees fans spots at a show once the date is officially announced.
Collier wanted reserving tickets to be a no-risk decision for attendees, and his wait list system is a reminder that it’s still unclear when concerts will happen. While attendees have to give Lyte their credit card information to reserve a seat, they won’t be charged until they confirm they can go to a given show once the show’s date has been announced. Whereas other sorts of preorder systems are used to funnel high-demand shows, Collier isn’t capping pre-order reservations. Lyte is taking the reservations and working with the primary ticketer for each of Collier’s respective shows.
“I’m committing to playing 91 cities across the world, I will come and play these markets the moment it’s safe to do so,” Collier tells Rolling Stone. “We don’t know when those gigs are going to happen, but we’ll play them. Basically, this is an open-minded way of saying we’re all in the same boat, but this will happen at some point, and as soon as I can get out there, you’ll be the first to know.”
The reservation system may play a vital role in determining fan demand for shows and venues too. In the U.S., U.K. and Europe, Collier has holds on venues he was supposed to play for his previously postponed tour — but to avoid announcing new dates and venues just to postpone again amid the uncertainty, Collier’s team isn’t announcing the dates and venues for those shows yet, Collier’s booking agent Noah Simon of UTA says.
If demand in these markets is high enough, Simon says, Collier’s team plans on having upgraded rooms on hold for higher capacity shows. Collier is also reserving extra nights for some of these dates to meet demand assuming enough people make reservations. He’s hoping for U.S. tour dates in the latter half of 2021.
For the Latin America, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East markets, Collier’s team can use reservation data from Lyte to determine demand for shows even further, tracking reservations that can help determine which venues and cities he’ll play.
“The exciting thing here is the unknown,” Collier says. “In my mind this could be a way to revolutionize the way we work out tours and how fans get tickets, even after all this craziness is finished. We can see what the demand is and let the fans be a part of that whole journey. It’ll be interesting if fans ask ‘Why aren’t you gong to Nepal?’ And if thousands of people ask the same, why aren’t we? We can add it on the tour list.”
Lyte is hopeful it can employ a similar model for other artists: CEO Ant Taylor says other artists are showing interest, although he declined to give specific names. And for artists unclear who’s going to want to buy a concert ticket in the immediate post-pandemic landscape, Taylor says the reservation system can give distinct data.
For fans, Lyte chief revenue officer Lawrence Peryer says, the system can help set a precedent to take risk off fans when purchasing tickets. “I think we’ve spent the better part of a generation teaching the average Joe he needs to be an amateur broker,” Peryer says. “We fueled the secondary market, along with scalping and fraud, by telling fans they can’t just easily get their money back. It’s been shifting the industry’s risk onto the consumer, and once you give the consumer the opportunity to not play by those rules, I think they’ll come to enjoy it and expect it.”