Long before recent controversies between Ticketmaster and several musical fanbases, Newport Festivals and Dice had begun laying the groundwork for a better ticketing experience for fans. Last year, Dice partnered with Newport Festivals to simplify the process of purchasing tickets. For Newport’s Folk and Jazz Festivals, fans can easily buy passes through Dice’s mobile app, in an accessible pipeline; artists-festivals-Dice-fans.
The partnership between Newport Festivals and Dice was announced last January, with the mission for fans not to get scammed while buying tickets. This pairing formed after Christopher Capotosto, CEO of Newport Festivals, was introduced to Russ Tannen, President of Dice, following a previous partnership with Highsnobiety on the festivals’ jazz side.
“At the time, It was just, ‘hey, new tech company doing everything mobile, you know, very anti-scalper,’ And I believe that’s how the conversation started,’ says Capotosto.
Each year, Newport’s Folk and Jazz festivals draw in a diverse crowd. But one of Girard’s major concerns was providing ease of access to some of the older fans who wish to buy tickets.
Capotosto, along with Deb Girard, Newport Festivals’ Director Of Ticketing And Admin, was drawn into the fact that the app and its browser portal were intuitive and self-explanatory.
“I spent a great deal of time [going through] the step-by-step processes through the website,” says Girard. [Last year], we had a great support staff with both the festival staff and Dice on site to troubleshoot getting through [the app]. If somebody has an old iPhone and can’t upgrade, there are processes in place to be able to handle that. We did really well, I think.”
The process for purchasing tickets is all digital (with the exception of a few “will call situations,” according to Girard), which allows for transparency in regard to pricing and fees. Additionally, fans will only be able to purchase tickets through Dice, and not through other third parties.
Should a fan not be able to attend either festival after purchasing tickets, they will still be able to resell their passes, however, they may only do so through Dice – and they may only sell their tickets at face value.
“You can go on any of the – Vivid Seats or whatever – insert name of secondary market ticketing company here, and you can see people speculatively putting tickets out at astronomical prices, right?,” says Capotosto, “But if we provide a mechanism by which the platform we’re on is doing a lot of anti-bot activity behind the scenes, and there’s a fan-to-fan ticket exchange, then we’re giving an opportunity for fans whose plans changed to be able to unload their tickets to fans are already waiting in line.”
Since the Newport Jazz and Newport Folk Festival’s respective launches in 1954 and 1959, the three-day music events have been cultural cornerstones for fans who travel all across the world to bask in the sounds of the eclectic line-up. In recent years, the festivals have sold out before the full line-ups were even announced.
“The Newport team recognized that they could innovate beyond traditional ticketing and offer fans a fantastic experience before doors even open,” says Tannen, “and at DICE we love working with the most ambitious operators in the world, which includes legendary festivals that continue to push the limits. There was a natural synergy there from the start, as we aligned on the same goal of making it easier to get tickets in the hands of fans.”
Additionally, fans can feel good about their purchases, given the all-digital sales process, which promises to be more environmentally conscious.
This year, fans can look forward to seeing Maggie Rogers, Bartees Strange, Orville Peck, and Alice Phoebe Lou at the Newport Folk Festival, which will take place from July 28 to July 30. The following weekend (August 4-6), Samara Joy, Thundercat, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, and several more will take that stage at Newport Jazz Festival.
And believe or not, the full line-ups for both festivals still haven’t been revealed. In recent years, Newport has rolled out the line-up little by little, as opposed to dropping a poster on a single day, featuring all of the acts.
On the second year of the partnership between Newport Festivals and Dice, the Folk festival has already sold out, however, fans can still sign up to be on a waiting list through the Dice app or the website. Girard says the first year of partnering with Dice proved effective, as their plan to cut out scalpers worked.
“I did not have one fake ticket that came through the door [last year],” says Girard. “So that’s, that’s a great win. I’ve seen many people [over the years] come to the event in tears because the tickets they had purchased were not real tickets.”
“DICE values fairness and transparency,” adds Tannen, “and by focusing on the fan experience, we’ve been able to break down the boundaries upheld in the antiquated ticketing industry.”