As the live music industry’s return remains fairly nebulous amid the ongoing pandemic, Mint Talent Group — a booking agency started last year by former CAA, William Morris Endeavor, and Paradigm agents — is working with ticketing platform Lyte to set up a reservation system for a swath of its artists’ upcoming shows, the companies tell Rolling Stone. It marks Lyte’s first agency-wide deal.
Mint represents 180 clients, including notable legacy artists such as Taj Mahal, Mavis Staples and Art Garfunkel. Thirty of those artists, including Mahal, Charlie Musselwhite and Jaimoe of the Allman Brothers Band, have already signed on to offer reservations, and Mint says it looks to bring on more artists going forward in the longer term as more of its artists show interest in getting involved. Financial specifics on the deal weren’t disclosed.
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“We’re in a time where we don’t know when shows are going to start back up,” says Patrick McAuliff, one of Mint’s founding agents. “There’s definitely something here with a reservation system to give us a little bit of flexibility to launch potential markets and tours, but not really commit to a dates yet. When we were first talking with Lyte, the thoughts were that we’d already moved some shows three times. If we could apply a reservation process across the board, it could work in this Covid experience, and past that, it can really help us rework how we route our tours.”
Lyte’s reservation wants to remove risk from fans buying tickets for shows and fight back against bots buying tickets. An artist can announce a tour without committing specific dates or venues, and fans can reserve a ticket in their desired city without getting charged until the artist says where they’ll play, at which point fans can pay if they can still go. On the other end, the system brings data to the artists’ team so they can know which venues to play or even decide which cities to play in. Last year, Jacob Collier, whose album Djesse Vol. 3 was recently nominated for Album of the Year for the 2021 Grammy Awards, announced he was using Lyte for his 91-date world tour, dates still to be decided.
“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,” Collier told Rolling Stone of his deal with Lyte in September. “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.”
As Ant Taylor, Lyte’s CEO and founder says: “What I’m excited to see is with this kind of scale with Mint, we’re allowing a lot more fans to help us by putting down a credit card,” he says. “Our version of the ticketing ecosystem includes fans. And so my hope is that that also helps in the recovery and how we as an industry come out of this, and that we don’t look at fans as something to be avoided when it comes to refunds but in fact, look at them as our partners in getting the ecosystem back up and running.”
Lyte has garnered more interest since the pandemic began. Prior to the deal with Mint, Lyte had closed a $38 million Series B funding round, with legendary producer Quincy Jones investing in the company alongside several venture capital firms. As Lyte moves forward, it’s looking to make similar deals with other live music companies.
“We want to mainstream this product in the touring business post-Covid,” Lawrence Peryer, Lyte’s chief strategy officer says. “And the only way to do that is with agency deals at scale, artist management firm deals at scale, and with regional promoters.”
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