Blockchain-based concert ticket service Big Neon shuts down

Founded in 2018, the novel approach to more affordable and fair event admissions is the newest COVID-19 casualty.

Big Neon, the company aiming to create a blockchain-based concert ticketing service, has officially tapped the last of its financial backing and is closing up shop. Co-created by one of Ticketfly’s founders, Dan Teree, Big Neon’s long-term goal of an app that better dissuaded ticket scalpers and enfranchised artists never fully materialized. The service never even made it as far as the blockchain, and instead operated as a more standard event admission software since its 2018 announcement. Last week, it became the latest business in the live entertainment industry to succumb to COVID-19’s economic impacts.

“The opportunity to build Big Neon was a gift. That said, the ongoing uncertainty of COVID combined with the need to raise substantial sums of capital to play in the live music space made for tough headwinds,” Teree told Billboard on Friday. “We are technology builders and it sucks when you don’t get to build cool things. I guess it’s not that different than what countless artists and bands are going through right now!”


Never even made it to its stated goal — Before the past year’s worth of pandemic-induced social distancing guidelines, Big Neon’s end goal was ambitious but certainly feasible. Eventually, the plan was to employ Tari, an Ethereum-esque “new open source blockchain protocol being built specifically for digital assets” by team members like cryptocurrency veteran, Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni. Big Neon was sold as a mobile-only app for both venues and concertgoers alike that could take on major competitors like Ticketmaster, AEG, and Live Nation, who hold monopoly-like grips on online ticketing and often include exorbitant service fees.

As Teree explained to Music Ally in 2018, tickets bought and issued via Big Neon could each come with certain rules coded into digital tokens, such a buyer’s ID required at the actual concert to block scalping, or guaranteed cuts of ticket resales for music promoters. But Big Neon missed its 2020 goal for transitioning to Tari, with COVID-19 concert cancellations putting the final nail in its coffin late last year.

Blockchain protocols are still on the rise — As confusing and sometimes nebulous as blockchains may be, they are still being utilized successfully in other areas. Recently, the USPS filed a patent for a blockchain-based mail-in voting system, and some people are even managing to (somehow) sell their own tweets on the blockchain. And Kings of Leon announced just last week a limited edition, non-fungible token (NFT) version of its newest album, while similar, fashionable cryptocurrency assets are blowing up the art world. Confused yet? Don’t worry, just let Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda explain it all to you. No, seriously.