After Band of the Day success, app maker tries event curation with Applauze

The team behind 955 Dreams has proven it knows a lot about music and a lot about curation with its Band of the Day app. Now it’s putting its established iOS(s AAPL) app-making skills toward launching a mobile tickets and event-finder app for the iPhone and iPod touch called Applauze. The free app is launching on Tuesday before SXSW Interactive and has listings for 25 cities.

ApplauzeThere are already apps that are tackling either the what-should-I-do angle (WillCall, Thrillist). And there are established players in ticketing on the iPhone (StubHub). But Applauze sees itself as a service for both use cases and thinks it can stand out because it is selling tickets directly, not through an affiliate model. Also, the app has some incentives built in, including attractive pricing, to get users on board.

It doesn’t do discounting but Applauze sources tickets from a variety of brokers and venues so it surfaces the latest and cheapest price for each event. Applauze is also banking on the appeal of exclusive access: it’s struck deals with some venues (for now just in Los Angeles and Chicago) that allow Applauze users to sign up for VIP tickets. The venue can choose what that means, but in most cases it means not waiting in line with other ticket holders, getting access to a VIP area or a pre-show meet and greet, and usually a free drink, founder and CEO Kiran Bellubbi told me.

After using the app, I found some really interesting and potentially great things about it, including:

  • It’s pretty diverse: Applauze is not just aimed at twentysomethings or music lovers; it’s for concerts large and small, for college and professional sports events, plus free community activities that might appeal to families or parents too. Bellubbi says, thanks to established relationships from Band of the Day, his company has access to “every big event in the U.S. right now.” Under the nearby tab in my city (Philadelphia) I’ve seen everything from a Rihanna stadium concert and an Emmylou Harris concert at a music hall to a Midsummer Night’s Dream performance, the Philadelphia Flower Show, comedy shows and free cultural events at the Franklin Institute and Barnes Foundation — in other words, a wide range.
  • It learns about you: The app learns about your preferences as you use it. If you like a particualr event and you rate it, bookmark it, or share it, Applauze interprets that as you like either the venue, the artist or the music category, so the list of events you are shown in the future will more closely align with your tastes. This means that you might eventually see different seats from some venues, for instance, if you have expressed interest in orchestra seating in the past.
  • It’s beautifully designed: The design flourishes are really nice, from the pop-up wheel of event categories to Applauze’s custom-designed expanding scroll list. Applauze is very clearly made by a group of interface designers who know what they’re doing. (Band of the Day was runner-up for Apple’s App of the Year in 2011.)
  • It’s inherently social: But it doesn’t require you to add new friends to the service. You connect it to your Facebook(s FB) account so you can invite friends — either via Facebook or your phone’s contacts — from within the app. When you look at an event, if your friends are using the app too, you can see if they are — using the app’s parlance — “in” to attend.
  • They’re launching pretty widely right away: The app will be live in 25 cities starting Tuesday.

There are some other things to appreciate about Applauze too, like it doesn’t hide ticketing fees. When you scroll through events, the price you see is the ticket price plus any processing fees or any fees associated with shipping physical tickets (if needed). You also can do everything inside the app: from browsing events, to making the purchase in a few taps, to inviting your friends, adding the event to Passbook, and adding it to your mobile calendar. Applauze has the mobile-first ticketing idea nailed.

The service is starting out in the U.S. but has international aspirations. Bellubbi tells me the U.K., Germany and Dubai are set to have access to Applauze in the next six months.