“Buy Michael Bublé tickets at least 48 hours before the general public. It’s our way of saying Thanks, just for being a Telstra customer.” It’s an SMS message you may have received if you’re one of 12 million subscribers signed up to the Australian telecommunications giant. But you may be wondering why you’ve been spammed with access to a ticket pre-sale direct to your mobile for a concert you may or may not have any interest in.

The Michael Bublé offer is just the latest in a series of exclusive pre-sales that Telstra is offering its customers as part of a new initiative with concert promoters and new ticketing partner, BangTango, which gained headlines when demand in the pre-sale for Bon Jovi’s forthcoming December Australian Tour crashed the service as customers scrambled for tickets.

Described by BangTango Founder and Director Daniel Popic as a “hybrid between a ticketing platform and sponsorship business,” the Telstra Thanks initiative and its seemingly random SMS promotion is offering a win-win situation for the telco giant and concert promoters looking for greater security in a climate where Australia’s live music scene has, for the second year running, experienced a significant dip in concert attendance and ticket revenue.

The BangTango/Telstra model gives customers access to a 48-hour long pre-sale window to purchase tickets and access ‘money can’t buy’ VIP packages, just as they have for the aforementioned concerts from Bublé and Bon Jovi, as well as Bernard Fanning’s national Departures Tour and for British pop star Olly Murs. But another way of looking at that 48-hour window of exclusive access is that Telstra is ‘selling off’ the use of its subscriber list in order to promote concerts its customers may not have signed on for – such as the SMS spam for the Canadian crooner above.

A few messages on your phone, no biggie, right? Except that opting out of the ticket pre-sale SMS requires a direct call to Telstra on a 1800 number – hardly something many customers bargained for in the small print when they signed on for a new mobile plan.

As Telstra’s Director of CRM, Digital and Loyalty Marketing tells The Australian100,000 tickets have already been purchased through the Telstra pre-sale service from BangTango, with plans to “announce a number of other exciting music events in coming months,” with a total of 20 or more concerts arriving during the year – which could amount to a lot of potentially unwanted promotional material to Telstra customers.

The Australian report also spells out the lucrative boon for both Telstra, BangTango, and promoters like the Dainty Group (who are presenting Bublé an Bon Jovi) in this new frontier. The event promoter does not pocket the usual $15 flat fee associated with the pre-sale, but instead “gets access to both direct database marketing to Telstra customers and above-the-line advertising of the tour, as well as a sponsorship payment.”

Or as BangTango director Jamie Olsen puts it: “Telstra’s 12-million-strong database puts the pre-sale model on steroids. The early signs from Telstra are that this is an absolute gangbuster of a program for them and they are putting a lot of money back into the market for live entertainment.” While fellow BangTango executive Popic says, “we have created a model that has the promoter and artist at the core. The industry needs help. We have had a downturn in ticket attendance and revenue over the past two years by 20 per cent.”

The question remains, is this the new face of concert promotion? Are consumers happy to have their information auctioned and their inboxes filled in the name of music business? Or is it down to punters not heading along to enough concerts to begin with?

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