Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Is SISTIC the only ticketing agent in Singapore?

I am a big fan of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO). The SSO's transition from a 'small town orchestra' based at Victoria Concert Hall to today's world class entity at the Esplanade is very much a personal journey for me.
Victoria Concert Hall is not quite a school auditorium but it is close. The concerts were cheap and tickets easily available. One could generally buy tickets for a show performed the same evening.
Today I have to book weeks in advance and I may not get my preferred seats.

The Esplanade - the new home of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra

I guess the Esplanade experience is a special one. The auditorium exudes the feel of a real classical concert. Many members of the audience are dressed in formal attire. Late-comers are not entertained.
The SSO is not an 'in training' outfit anymore. It hosts international musicians and has a few critically acclaimed recordings to its name.
However, one constant is the role of SISTIC in the ticketing process. I marvel at SISTIC's business model. SISTIC has a license to print money.
Founded in 1991, SISTIC is Singapore's largest ticket selling agency. Its website states that it sells 90% of tickets for all cultural, arts and sports events held in Singapore.
Of course that is not surprising given that there is normally no other way to buy tickets for most events!
There seems to be an unwritten rule that all events at government linked facilities are exclusively sold through SISTIC. Just being the sole distributor for all events at the Esplanade gives SISTIC a big slice of the pie.

How did SISTIC get its business? Why are there no competitors? I have no answers.
I can state that there is little chance to avoid paying SISTIC booking fees (SGD one per ticket) or collection charges (SGD 0.20 – 8.00 depending on method of collection).
All the facts fit right in with what I refer to as 'the Singapore Paradox.' Despite being one of the most open and liberal economies in the world, the Singaporean state remains the biggest owner of businesses and assets in the domestic economy. Typically, the state enjoys a monopoly position in the businesses where it operates.
SISTIC is a private limited company. (I don't know what the acronym stands for.) I could not find any information on SISTIC's ownership or financial status on its website.
Although I could be wrong, I will wager decent money that SISTIC is directly or indirectly owned by the government.
There is no doubt that the government plays a critical role in encouraging the arts and culture scene in Singapore. It cost serious money to build the Esplanade and host the annual Formula-One race. The government spends lots of money to brand Singapore and promote the city as a regional arts hub.
I am sure the SISTIC revenue aids these efforts but the various government ministries' budgets are healthy enough for the purpose.
Now that a large part of the branding journey has been completed, maybe event organizers can encourage the development of new ticketing agencies by allowing newcomers to sell tickets for major events.
In other words, make SISTIC a non-exclusive agent for ticket sales. A monopoly is no longer necessary. The consumer may see benefits through lower (or zero) booking fees.
SISTIC's mission is to "... connect people to entertainment through the provision of innovative systems and best practice services."  For the patron of, well pretty much any high profile event in Singapore, SISTIC is the only way to connect.
Presently, all roads lead to SISTIC. There are no detours.
PS - If someone can point me in the direction of financial and ownership information about SISTIC I will greatly appreciate it.


  1. i believe SISTIC is part of the singapore indoor stadium (therefore the acronym - SIS-TICketing).

    Singapore Indoor Stadium is managed by the Singapore Sports Council, which is under the purvew of MCYS. So all roads lead to our Men In white.

  2. Hi Leslie,

    Thank you for dropping by and taking the time to clarify the name and ownership structure of SISTIC.

    At some point I will take a look at the MCYS and / or Singapore Indoor Stadium site(s) to see if there is any information on SISTIC's financials. It does seem to be collecting a lot of cash in return for its investment in a sophisticated ticketing system and some nice service staff.

    I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

    Kind regards,


  3. you can see the SISTIC P&L under the Singapore Indoor Stadium annual statement of accounts in the SIS website.

    I have a mild phobia for numbers, so you';ll have to decipher it and let everyone know how much money is being made by them.

  4. Hi Leslie,

    Thank you for the details.

    Unfortunately, I could not locate the annual account in the Singapore Indoor Statement website. Do you think it is located in the 'members only' section?

    Perhaps you can email me the link if it's not too much trouble. My apologies if it is right there in front of me and I cannot see it!

    Have a great long weekend ...

    Kind regards,


  5. hi! was actually in the Singapore Sports Council website:

  6. Hi Leslie,

    Thank you for the clarification and the link. I will take a look at the information.

    Have a great weekend!

    Kind regards,


  7. Thanks for the information on Gatecrash.

    I hope other agencies like Gatecrash can create a more competitive environment which will ultimately result in lower booking fees for ticket purchases.

    Best regards,


  8. Hi Imran,

    Yes, they are government owned! They're everywhere!

    just would like to share that there's also ape snap and (saw it in Ticketcube on Orchard Road).

    I'm also not sure on sharing this cause it seems like i'm on SISTIC's side but if you buy tickets through Ticketmaster (in US) they do charge booking fees too, cause that's a revenue stream for them. In fact, their's can amount to $24 on top of ticket prices.

    Anyway, just a thought :)

  9. Hi,

    Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I am sure readers will benefit from the names of other ticketing agents in Singapore.

    I prefer not to see my article as either 'pro or anti' SISTIC. I see it more as an effort to highlight fairness and competition in an area where one firm, SISTIC, has an exceptionally large market share.

    Your point on booking fees is well taken - thanks.

    Please do keep visiting my blog.

    Kind regards,


    1. Hi Imran,
      insightful article on the ticketing industry in Singapore. A pity that I come across this article only now.
      I just did a preliminary study into SISTIC and gatecrash
      A typical 3 shows of 2,000 seats of $80 ticket will cost the promoter about $14,000 (excluding credit card commission charges and all other web banners and marketing banners) The total buyers' booking fee is $18,000 ($3 each X 6,000 seats)
      For Gatecrash, I reckon the promoter and buyer cost are $8k - $10k , and $12k respectively.
      Here's my proposal. I will develop a new ticketing site to bring the cost down to $3,000 (for promoter) and $0 (buyer). Yes! No booking fee for buyer.
      Will there be a market for this service ? Any kind soul can tell me which event promoters would be interested in this ?

  10. Hi Richard,

    Thank you for your comment.

    It is good to note your research supports the notion of greater competition in the sector.

    Certainly, your proposal sounds interesting given that it benefits both ticket buyers and sellers. It seems like an opportunity for an entrepreneur to pursue seriously, i.e. with a solid business plan, financial models, etc. If the idea holds water, the proposal can be proactively marketed to event promoters.

    However, such an approach will require adequate resources and time. If you are interested in discussing further, please send me an email ( and we can initiate a dialogue offline.

    Good luck and best regards,


  11. Hi Everyone!

    Apart from Gatecrash, EventCliQue is an upcoming ticketing agency in Singapore with quite a few major events under their belts already:

    Though their sites now look pretty rudimentary, they sell hard tickets like Sistic do, including events that are not available in Sistic, or events that are co-sold with Sistic.

    Hope this info sharing is useful :)

  12. Hi Imran and all the readers,

    I have tried to sent my comment once, but it didn't work. So here we go again. (I told you that just in case my comment appears twice later)

    I am trying to find info on the ticketing service in Singapore. In 2012 the CAB has uphold the CCS decision to fine SISTIC. Here is the link

    What I'd like to know is since then, do you as consumers have more choices when it comes to ticketing agent, especially for events taken place in Esplanade, and the Singapore Indoor Stadium? Has SISTIC increased the fee at all? If you could point me to where you get your answer from, I would really appreciate it. I will take it from there. So far, I found that if I want to buy a ticket for any events at the Esplanade, SISTIC is still the only ticketing agent for that. At the Stars Performing Art Centre, Ticketbooth and SISTIC are two agencies.

    thank you for your contribution.

    Kind regards,