Mobile

WillCall rolls out BarTab app so you can buy drinks at concerts with your phone

WillCall's new BarTab app

Above: WillCall's new BarTab app

Image Credit: WillCall

WillCall wants to make it easier for you to get drunk at concerts.

The ticketing app revealed a new product today called BarTab, which lets concert-goers buy drinks at a venue’s bar without ever pulling out their wallet.

WillCall’s mobile app presents a curated list of live music shows happening within a two-week period and shows you what your friends bought tickets to. The company works closely with music venues to help them promote and sell tickets to events.

bartabCEO Donnie Dinch said that music venues make upwards of 70% of their revenue at the bar, and the company saw an opportunity to widen its scope beyond tickets.

“We’ve spent a lot of time with venue owners and promoters since launching the consumer app, and one of the key things we learned is that venues make most of their revenue after customers come through the door,” Dinch told VentureBeat. “Despite this, there is just so much friction at every transaction point.”

WillCall is piloting BarTab with a dozen venues in San Francisco and New York. When someone buys a ticket through WillCall, they can buy drinks at the bar with their WillCall account, just by saying their name. They receive a push notification every time a round is charged, and a total receipt after they leave.

Dinch said this will make the process of buying a drink at a show less frustrating, by cutting down on lines, eliminating concerns over credit card minimums, and prevent forgetting your card at a venue.

“We make it easier for consumers to buy drinks at the bar, so they can spend more time watching the show,” Dinch said.”We believe this feature will provide substantial revenue lift for venues.”

WillCall primarily works with small, independently owned venues. Each operates differently — they use a wide range of point-of-sale systems, and some are cash-only. Thus every venue that participates with BarTab has a unique set of requirements for creating that “seamless” experience Dinch said WillCall is going for.

The pilot program will give WillCall the chance to work closely with a variety of venues and get feedback, before rolling it out more widely.

The Internet threw the music industry into crises mode by fundamentally changing how music gets distributed. It created more channels for people to discover, listen, and share music, and thus created more opportunities for small independent artists to get their music heard.

While the biggest record labels saw their revenues plummet, live music sales soared — concert ticket sales tripled between 1999 and 2009. 

WillCall emerged in response to these trends — there is more music from more artists than ever before and more people going to shows. With so much going on all the time, the need arose for a service that made it easier to pick what shows to see, and rally friends to go along.

Last year WillCall rolled out features for gifting tickets to friends, purchasing ticket packages, and buying merchandise through the app — all geared at helping artists and venues (and WillCall) make more money off the concerts. BarTab is designed with the same goal in mind.

WillCall has raised over $2 million to date and is based in San Francisco.


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