Dice founder and CEO Phil Hutcheon has told IQ how the company was able to continue its growth during the pandemic.
The UK-based mobile ticketing and discovery platform for live events and livestreams, which is already live in the UK, US, France, Italy and Spain, last week confirmed its entrance into the German market.
Launched in 2014, the firm announced last autumn that it had raised up to US$122 million in Series C funding, led by new investor SoftBank, which it said would enable it to expand into every market.
“Weirdly, we got a lot bigger during the pandemic,” Hutcheon tells IQ. “The pandemic was a real opportunity for a lot of people who are super-busy – partners, venues, promoters and artists – to see what Dice is, have plenty of time to assess it and go, ‘Actually, this is great,’ and sign up to it.
“The US is now Dice’s biggest market. What we’ve seen in New York is incredible – 1.2 million people in New York used Dice last month – and the engine just works. Our thing is to remove what we call the ‘Facebook/Instagram/Google tax,’ and help venues invest in their spaces and performances instead of buying ticket ads on social media. That was one of the reasons we started.”
“We actually worked harder than ever during the pandemic – we were relentless”
In April 2020, shortly after the onset of Covid-19, Dice ventured into livestreams and has since partnered on exclusive livestreams with the likes of Laura Marling, Lewis Capaldi, Nick Cave, Kylie Minogue, Little Mix, The Smile and Bjork.
“We did 6,500 ticketed livestreams,” notes Hutcheon. “But we also took it as an opportunity for a breather, because you’re growing super fast, you’re rolling out into different market and, you’ve got all these new features going up, so the engineering team focused on building software that whole time.
“There was no ‘business as usual’, so we were like, ‘Let’s use this time to get these massive pieces of development done.’ We actually worked harder than ever during the pandemic – we were relentless.”
Dice now has more than 350 shows available in-app in Germany, where it has launched a new Berlin office and plans to recruit more team members over the coming months, with 60 in place by the end of the year. It has already partnered with artists, promoters and venues across the country, including Goodlive Artists, Zart Agency and Hamburg’s Uebel & Gefährlich to support its growth.
“We don’t go into a market and build from the ground up, we like to work with a really good partner to set things off”
“We always wanted to launch in Berlin, but we needed to wait for the right time,” says Hutcheon. “We started everything towards the end of last year and now, with a team and the first deals in place, we’re super-excited.
“We don’t go into a market and build from the ground up, we like to work with a really good partner to set things off – that’s how we typically initiate a new market. It’s showing them what the product is, how it’s worked in other cities and the benefits, because Dice is two products: you’ve got the consumer app, but also the enterprise software that runs all of the events.
“It’s also about making sure that we’ve got enough events. We have hundreds of events in Germany, if it launched and there were only six events on day one, whereas then it’s not going to have much of an impact.”
Dice also rolled out its app in India in 2020, starting with exclusive livestreams from international and local artists including retroFuture, Pabllo Vittar, Anushka Manchanda (Nuka) and Raghav Meattle.
“That market is obviously going to be a big investment for us as it reopens,” says Hutcheon. “I think that could be special for us. We have very high hopes for India.”
While reluctant to go into detail on future expansion plans, Hutcheon suggests a common thread runs through the territories it has entered so far in terms of venue infrastructure.
“Where Dice really works is for venues between 250/300-cap to 10,000-cap,” he suggests.
“I’m heartened that TV subscriptions are going down – I think that spend will go back into seeing people perform”
Hutcheon also shares his belief that there could be a positive legacy from the live shutdown and various lockdowns.
“Before the pandemic, everyone was like, ‘I wonder what’s gonna be like when we all live virtually: we’re all going to have 3D headsets on, sitting at home and doing all these things in the metaverse,’” he reflects. “Well, we’ve just spent a year and a half living fully digital, and it wasn’t very good, so seeing people out again is amazing.
“We’re so happy with our mission of getting people to go out even more often and we’re really going to invest in the community this year. It’s super-easy to find out what’s going on on Dice because of all the algorithms. And if you’ve got no one to go with, well, pretty soon you’re going to be able to meet new people through Dice.
“The biggest thing that Dice has an impact on is getting people to go out more often. I’m heartened that TV subscriptions are going down because I think that spend will go back into seeing people perform.”
Dice recently bolstered its leadership team with the appointments of Falko Mortiboys as VP of fan experience, Ali McCloud as VP of partner relations, Antony Jackson as head of expansion, Europe and Leon Sherman as head of artist partnerships, UK & Europe.
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