What’s Iain Bluett’s favorite part of his job?
“That I get to work with my best mate every day,” he told Amplify. Thirteen years ago, Bluett and Jamie Dwyer launched TicketAlternative, powered by Paciolan and Spectra. Sensing a need for a DIY ticketing product, the pair launched Freshtix in 2011.
“I remember someone once telling me we’d never be able to do it, but now Freshtix is on track to sell over a million tickets a year by 2018,” the British-born entrepreneur told Amplify. Freshtix was created for smaller live music clubs and event organizers and Bluett has started moving over Ticket Alternative clients who wanted more control over their events but didn’t need all the features of the full blown Ticket Alternative system. The number of tickets sold annually increased 300% in 2015 and is expected to do the same this year.
Ticket Alternative is continuing to make inroads too — Bluett recently extended his ticketing contract with Minnesota United FC “which gives us our first MLS team. I’m a huge Manchester United fan, Minnesota United fan and now an Atlanta United fan.”
Bluett got his start as a musician, playing keyboard in the band Film, telling Amplify “we were offered a record deal by someone called Guy Oseary who manages some Irish band now (hint: its U2).” Bluett later went on to manage the Atlanta-based band The Hiss.
“I got to know all the small venues owners in Atlanta and basically approached them and said ‘Let me market your events for you, sell tickets and add a small fee on top,’” he told Amplify. “If I sell a ticket, brilliant. If not, no harm, no foul. They said ‘why not?’ and the rest is history.”
Today he’s one of Atlanta’s busiest music industry execs, with twin five-year-olds at home and a love for music that has him attending at least one show a week. Amplify recently caught up with Iain and asked him to participate in our five shows feature for Ticket Week.
“You’ll notice my top five shows are all from this year,” he said. “They’re not my top five of all time. There’s no way I could ever rank those.”
The Stone Roses
June 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York
I was at V Festival in 2012 with The Stone Roses and Noel Gallagher, but it was a festival show. At Madison Square Garden, the Stone Roses headlined. It was like the world’s greatest karaoke night with 10,000 ex-pats singing their hearts out for the lads. The band were in top form and the venue sounded great. A big group of us came up from Atlanta and had a great day on the lash. That included another one of my best friends Jay Harren (responsible for signing Manchester Orchestra, The Lone Bellow and Colony House), my best mate Griff and his wife Val (up from Florida) and my old drummer (Tommy Tjoflat) and his wife. We all ended up at the Roses after- party somewhere on the lower east side with Andy Rourke (The Smiths) on the decks. Epic night.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
July 1 at the Tabernacle, Atlanta
The show was the night after the Stone Roses at Madison Square. This is a special venue in Atlanta and I had third-row seats with one of my oldest friends Russell Belcher. Noel has had an Atlanta lad with him on tour (Tim Smith) so the show was special for many reasons. I’ve seen Noel a bunch of times, as The Hiss toured with Oasis in Germany in 2003. Of course, as the manager, I had to be there. Again. Epic. Song after song. Sing along after sing along. They just don’t write them like that anymore. I don’t want Oasis to get back together. Liam can’t sing anymore. It would be awful. Let’s remember it for what it was. Live forever.
September 17, Terminal West
This was one of the best “big-band-in-small-venue” shows I’ve ever seen. The Killers were in town to headline the 55,000-person Music Midtown festival and announced a gig the night before at a small 700-cap venue. The show was bittersweet. My wife’s father was really sick and she couldn’t be there. Back in my promoter days, we had done a Music Midtown after-party with the Killers DJ-ing and somehow my wife managed to plant a kiss on Brandon Flowers. The show was amazing, The Killers are a sing-a-long band and when all 700 people are singing their heads off, you can’t beat it. I was with some of my best friends who I happen to call clients, Josh Antenucci and Brandon Mize from Center Stage. Good times. But I wish Melinda had been able to be there. That would have made it perfect.
March 12 at Tower Theatre in Upper Darby, Pa.
What can I say? Love will tear us apart, again. I was up in Philly working an event and one of my Live Nation mates sorted me out a pair of tickets for the show. The venue was brilliant. I’d never been before. I love the thrill of going to a new venue for the first time. Walking around and getting your bearings. I grew up on New Order. Those songs are part of my childhood. 90’s Brit-pop. Nothing like it. Never will be again. Ceremony. Temptation. True Faith. Blue Monday. Their new album is one of their best.
Greg Wilson / DJ Garth
June 4 at The Music Room, Atlanta
I’m an old school raver. I threw one of the first ever raves in Atlanta in a warehouse back in ’91. My mate Tony Dickerson (Album 88) and I DJ’d off CD players without a mixer and the tickets were 3D glasses! DJ Garth and Greg Wilson played different nights at the Music Room but they laid down some of the best sets I’ve heard in a long time. I’ll always remember where I was when DJ Garth mixed Black Betty in to Beastie Boys’ Sabotage on New Year’s Eve many moons ago and when Greg Wilson dropped the Beyonce, Rolling Stones & Massive Attack track this May. Can’t beat good house music. Whatever happened to vocals, verses, choruses and the middle eight in dance music? Pete Tong, Sasha, Digweed, Fatboy Slim. Those were the days.