Half-price ticket seller Goldstar is making its mark in the primary ticketing business — by conducting business in the opposite direction from other sellers....

Half-price ticket seller Goldstar is making its mark in the primary ticketing business — by conducting business in the opposite direction from other sellers.

Instead of going after tickets to in-demand shows and selling them at a premium, the company focuses on gaining access to surplus tickets close to the date of a popular event. The company has built relationships with a number of venues across the country and is able to list their unsold tickets at a steep discount, with events ranging from philharmonic performances to sports events to speed dating nights.

Goldstar has listings for tickets in ten major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco, with plans to move into the top 25 markets by next year. The company boasts a current membership of over 1.2 million users. Venue and franchise partners top 4,000 and include the Staples Center, Madison Square Garden (MSG), Cirque Du Soleil, San Francisco’s AT&T Park and Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre.

After signing up for a free membership account on the site, Goldstar users have access to about 1,000 discounted events in its major markets. Members also receive a weekly email informing them of local events that may be of interest. Goldstar generates revenue by charging a service fee for each transaction.

Company CEO Jim McCarthy sees this venture with friends Robert Graff, Chief Technology Officer, and Richard Webster, President/CFO, as not just a ticketing business. “The core idea from the start has been that we want to help people to get out to live entertainment more often. We think they want to go out more than they actually go out. We are examining the reasons why people don’t do it and helping them overcome them.”

These obstacles, as McCarthy describes them, fall into two categories: high ticket prices and lack of information about events. He believes that Goldstar meets the first challenge by discounting almost everything at the site to half price. The company attempts to address the other obstacle through its weekly member emails and more frequent “Event Alerts”, as well as in Roar of the Crowd, a weekly e-newsletter which provides feedback from members on the events they have attended through the site.

The audience that Goldstar works to attract is no ordinary ticket-buying public, either. The target audience is a younger, internet-savvy group who historically has chosen an evening at the movies or at home with a DVD over live entertainment. In fact, more than any ticket seller, McCarthy sees these activities as the company’s primary competition.

A major goal of the company is to turn those movie and DVD watchers into live event fans, and the benefit of this turnover is two-fold. More people are getting the enjoyment of live entertainment, following the site’s slogan, “Go Out More”, and this new sector of ticket buyers creates a fresh audience for venues, with the potential of becoming more regular ticket buyers. “From a venue point of view,” McCarthy told TicketNews, “we’ve always said to them, ‘This isn’t about making a certain amount of dollars, though you will, but you’re building audience with this.’ Our job is not just to list events, but to help venues be successful in reaching our members and getting them out to our shows.”

As for other primary ticketers in the market, McCarthy describes them not as rivals but as business partners. “We are not competing with them to get the business. We are one of the ways in which the venues are successful, and we have relationships whereby [other primary ticket sellers] benefit when we sell tickets, too. The growth of Goldstar benefits everyone…we’re not in competition with Ticketmaster or Tickets.com.”

Instead, McCarthy sees major competition for his company coming from other discounters. “We still have to work to distinguish ourselves, because there are more discounters than there used to be. We have to make sure we’re still innovating and still finding ways to generate more value for our members and for our venue partners.”