The founders and developers of the new app Curtain Call know how tough it can be for college students to afford entertainment in a city like New York, so they’ve found a way to make it easier to see those cool shows you just couldn’t pay for. The four minds behind the project — Tandon junior Laura Ahmetaj, Tandon junior Tanya Gupta, Steinhardt freshman Carissa Estilo and Tandon junior Quinn Robertson — sat down with WSN to talk about one of NYU’s hottest startups.
Washington Square News: [So tell us the story of Curtain Call.]
Quinn Robertson: Well, I really like concerts. That’s how it all started. Our whole pitch starts with how we don’t always have a lot of money to go to concerts all the time. Tickets are really expensive and fees can be over $20 per ticket. It’s ridiculous! So I wondered, “How can we make tickets more accessible without upsetting the venues, the artists and so on?” I started to fund my own concerts by going on Craigslist and negotiating with all of the people freaking out about selling their tickets last minute. They would cut the prices way down. I went to Governor’s Ball last year for $30. People are willing to sell their tickets cheap close to showtime because they are minutes away from the ticket becoming worthless.
Tanya Gupta: The statistic that we always like to bring up is that 50 percent of all concert tickets go unsold. So we’re diving into this market.
WSN: I’ve got to imagine it’s much harder to find those unsold tickets for bigger shows that people really want to see.
QR: Yeah, so Beyonce’s tour — sorry.
WSN: What about tickets from second-hand sites — like Craigslist or stubhub — where you might find tons of unsold tickets for big concerts?
QR: Half of our system is a ticket aggregator that searches a bunch of other websites to see what’s going on that night — what is at or below face value and what’s in the area. That will link to other sites. The other half of our tickets come directly from the venues. We make arrangements with them, and if they have unsold tickets they want to get out to the public on the day of the show to increase attendance.
Laura Ahmetaj: There’s a term for that — papering the house.
QR: Which they tend to do for free.
WSN: So now you’re trying to add value to that paper for them.
TG: And these companies and bands need to protect their brand. They don’t want to tarnish it by selling discounted tickets, but they can give them to us and still reap the benefits without losing brand value.
WSN: How do you guys view yourselves in competition with other discount providers like Groupon?
QR: They actually validated our idea, because with things like Groupon, we knew that these agreements for lower prices were possible. As much as it is a competing market, Groupon customers are usually going out and looking for a specific event. They’re not people looking for something spontaneous for the night.
WSN: So you guys are targeting spontaneous crowds.
QR: Exactly. We want this to be a way for people to discover new artists and venues.
LA: We want Curtain Call to be a platform of exploration. If it’s cheap, [then] it’s low-risk to try something unfamiliar.
QR: We want to bring back music discovery through live music.
WSN: So when can we actually start looking around Curtain Call to find a cheap, local shows?
Carissa Estilo: Probably around July. The summertime is usually when most people go to concerts, so we want to launch in time for that this year. I’ll be back in Chicago around then, so I’m going to try to do some networking over there through some of my contacts and see if others in that market want to get on board as well. So we’ll be starting off in Chicago and New York.
QR: And we want to make sure that everyone who gets the word before then follows @curtaincallnyc on Instagram and signs up for our mailing list because that’s how we convince venues to sign on with us, so if you want to see this all happen, sign up!
Email Jacob Fox at [email protected]