I Don’t Want to “Disrupt” the Live Entertainment Industry

Talk to any shiny new entrepreneur today, and he or she will tell you that their goal is to “disrupt” whatever industry they’re part of. Disruption, when it really happens, changes the fundamental rules of the game, usually to the benefit of consumers and, of course, to the massive benefit of the company doing the disruption.

Often, this is a good thing. Some industries, like the taxi industry for example, are crummy and complacent, clinging to legal protection to survive while providing we-couldn’t-give-any-less-of-a-crap levels of service to consumers.

As a decade-and-a-half veteran of the digital world, I’ve generally been part of this process and proud to be there. Disruption, for the most part, has been good.

So, why don’t I want to “disrupt” the live entertainment business? My company, Goldstar, has made a pretty big splash in the business, sending millions and millions of people to live entertainment events and creating the largest third-party channel for ticket sales in the country. Shouldn’t I be telling people all about how we’re disruptors, too?

That’s not what I say because that’s not how we see our mission.

Our mission isn’t to “disrupt” the industry. It’s to grow it and help it improve. Unlike taxis, for example, where (no offense intended to hard-working drivers) the work can be done by a large potential group of people, live entertainment and arts just ain’t that easy. It’s pretty hard to put on a show or game or event that’s worth paying for. The talent to do such a thing and to put such a thing together is pretty rare.

There’s no such thing as “Theater x” or “Professional Basketball x,” where you just start doing a show in your living room or start a pickup game in your backyard, and people whip out their mobile phones and buy a ticket to a nearby home-based event.

What we’ve tried to “disrupt” in the industry is irrational and badly thought-out practices, especially in the areas of audience outreach and pricing, but all of that has the goal of sending more mindshare, more patrons and more money INTO the industry.

But that’s more accurately described as an “improvement,” not a disruption. Every industry has flaws, problems and even blind spots in its customary ways of working. I’ll disrupt the hell out of those all day long, but that’s because what we’re working on is growing, improving and strengthening the industry.

There are a couple of reasons for that. First, our company depends on a healthy industry. A live entertainment industry that’s producing dull, unsellable events or is just producing less and less content just makes it hard for us to thrive and grow the way we intend to. Second, we want it to be healthy because it’s our industry. We don’t just sell it. Most of the people here are live entertainment geeks of one kind or another. Someone starts singing a show tune, and they’re likely to have a chorus backing them up. We can discuss the ramifications of the LeBron move to Cleveland for an hour. Debates about which musician you’d bring back from the dead for a one-night concert can rage for days.

It’s just who we are. We like it all, and we want it to be better, bigger and more popular. We’re never going to stop “disrupting” bad ideas and bad practices, but that’s only in service of what we’re really trying to do. And that’s to grow and improve the business that makes our business possible.

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