Concerts used to be one of the most analogue activities a person could do. But those days are going the way of the paper ticket, and now the gatekeepers of live events are determined to inject some digital anxiety into your drug-fuelled Phish party. Ticketmaster is jumping into the facial recognition business.
Ticketmaster already had a stranglehold on live events back in the humble days of Pearl Jam protests, but since it merged with Live Nation, its monopoly over the industry is more solid than ever. That gives it tremendous power over determining the direction of the business, and it means you'll inevitably use their system at some point if you want to see a show.
In its latest earnings call, Live Nation announced that it's forming a partnership with, and investing in, a facial recognition company called Blink Identity.
The move was characterised as the next step in its identity-based digital ticketing initiative, "Ticketmaster Presence". The idea is, concertgoers will be able to just walk through the door without showing a ticket at all, and ticket scalping will be more difficult.
Blink Identity's website boasts that its system can "acquire a face image and match it against a large database in half a second". That's impressive. Sounds like that killer tech that China has that can pick the face of a suspect out of a crowd of 50,000 people. Good to know more public spaces are getting wired up with the same stuff. Oh, another fun thing: Blink Identity's founders have spent over a decade designing systems for the US Department of Defence. Rock on!
You're probably thinking this is going to be a pain in the arse to get set up at first, but Blink Identity says enrollment into the system is really easy - "users simply walk past the sensor to be entered into the database". Sweet, it's so easy you might not even know you're part of it.
Coincidentally, Nathan Hubbard, Ticketmaster's former CEO, announced today that he's launching a new company called Rival. Its mission is to make digital ticketing easier and to integrate facial recognition technology into the concertgoing experience. There will be nowhere for you to go to get away from this crap.
On the bright side of things, when Ticketmaster gets hacked, you can expect it to offer you some vouchers to shows no one wants to see as compensation.