Bored of reading all those tiresome end of year lists picking out the best songs and albums? Yeah, what a friggin’ yawn fest they are. But this, dear reader, is where it gets exciting. Right here, right now, you can find out what happened at your favourite independent ticket agency during 2016…

Style on point

Let’s be honest; it was long overdue, but in March we updated our website. A new logo, colour scheme and layout made us feel sexy again, and throughout the year we’ve continued to release smaller changes ensuring we keep-up with the Joneses and provide you guys with a quality, professional looking site to sell your tickets on. Not only did we give ourselves a nice new look, but we also handed you more freedom to make your home on WeGotTickets reflect your own personal style, with improved Profile Pages and event images. People seem to like it and we’re confident that if ASOS ever do an ‘Outfit of the Day’ specific to ticketing websites we’ll feature as often as Becks and Bieber do currently.

The numbers

With almost £10m worth of tickets sold for around 45,000 events all around Britain and Northern Ireland, we can say that independent and grass-roots events are booming. Around 41% of all tickets sold were for what we broadly term “music – general” (it’s not the best genre name, sorry!), with folk and world music also very popular. Our second biggest sector this year is comedy, making up 21% of ticket sales and seeing a significant year-on-year increase – comedy promoters, you’re doing something right! We’ve also seen impressive growth in small theatre events and the pop-up cinema sectors, and with more and more people looking for unique, experiential events we predict these will do even better in 2017.

Behind the numbers are a lot of dedicated event organisers. We work with some truly inspiring people who do amazing things: there are far, far too many to mention, but some highlights for us included Sneaky Experience’s amazing pop-up cinema events and Christmas market in Leeds; the always brilliant Field Day festival; Nomad Cinema and Cult Screens, who both put on wonderful outdoor cinema events; award winning small venues, the 100 Club, Vortex Jazz Club, Green Note, and the Ramsgate Music Hall; a bunch of regional promoters, including Hey! Manchester, Green Mind, One Inch Badge, Rockfeedback, Bird on the Wire, Upset the Rhythm, and Future Perfect; and, in our hometown, the Oxford Literary Festival and Oxford Round Table Fireworks display in South Park.

Championing the underground

After over fifteen years in ticketing, working with the most incredible promoters, venues, and festival organisers, we decided these behind-the-scenes heroes deserved their fifteen minutes of fame. We dreamed up INDIE50 and set about finding the most dedicated individuals working in independent music. After public nominations drew up a long-list with several hundred people on it, we asked our expert judges – including BBC6music’s Tom Ravenscroft, Pitchfork’s Laura Snapes, and 4 more rather wonderful people – to perform the unenviable task of whittling it down to 50 (because INDIE427 isn’t as snappy).

Once we knew who the 50 were – and it really is an exceptional list – we sent photographer extraordinaire Dan Wilton and our pal Josh Jones of Le Cool London out on the road to meet, photograph and interview them. The result was the really fucking cool, even if we do say so ourselves, Don’t Be a Dick zine, and an exhibition of the photos at London’s 71a Gallery that goes down as this scribe’s best memory of 2016. The list was covered in local and national press – including mentions in The Guardian Guide, The NME and on the front page(!) of The i Paper – as well as loads of other top publications, and we’re delighted to have shone a light on these awesome, inspiring people. Read more here.

Brains as well as beauty

The aforementioned 15 years experience in ticketing has given us a unique insight in to the events industry. We felt it was time we shared some of our insights and opinions on the industry we work in, and so we created this here blog. We hoped that the posts we knocked up would inform and educate, helping new and experienced event organisers alike to put on the best shows they can.

Whether it be advice on specific subjects (for example How to Cancel Your Event Without Letting Customers Down, Manners Don’t Cost a Penny – the Value of Customer Service, or Re-thinking Customer Data), reporting from important industry events (such as 6 Things We Learnt From the AIF Congress, and Dispatches from the House of Commons Evidence Session in to Ticket Touts), or interviews with top pros (see London’s Favourite Music Venue – a Conversation with Green Note, Ten Years of Field Day – an Interview with Tom Baker, and Musicians Against Homelessness: an Interview with Alan McGee), we hope we’ve created a resource that’s valuable to you guys.

The good guys

By the time our Refugee Action campaign wraps up at the end of the year we expect to have donated around £30,000 to charity this year, both from booking fee donations and by collecting donations from customers for the charities we support. Around £20,000 of this has been donated to the charities we’ve run special fundraising and awareness campaigns for – Attitude is Everything, Oxfam’s Oxjam Music Festival, Musicians Against Homelessness and Refugee Action. The remaining £10,000 has been donated to many, many other charities who we have provided ticketing solutions for when running their fundraising events.

We have also continued our work as advocates for positive change in our industry, supporting the Night Time Industries Association’s #savenightlife campaign – a key factor in the reopening of Fabric – and continuing to beat the drum against unfair ticketing practices (including secondary ticketing) through our championing of the Fanfair Alliance and working with the government’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse. Our work with Attitude is Everything has also helped improve disabled access to venues around the UK.

And for our next trick…

But it doesn’t stop here. 2017 will be another year of growth and development for us, as we strive to provide a continually improving service to you and your customers. We will put the emphasis on great service, and an improved product – and you can expect big announcements on those things in due course. We are also going to try our hand at putting on some events ourselves with our friends at the Castle Cinema in Hackney, and London in Stereo (and probably something else very exciting!), all of which we hope will attract more people to WeGotTickets and help us expose all your amazing events to even more event-goers. Unfortunately I’ve been warned against saying too much and putting any spoilers in here – and after trying to avoid people talking about The Walking Dead for the last few weeks, I have sympathy with those needs!

Oh, and if you’re interested, we (by which I mean I) say the year’s best album was a toss up between Nick Cave and Angel Olsen. Best song? Rye Lane Shuffle by Moses Boyd.

For more like this follow @WGT_Steven on Twitter.

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