Live Music Technology Series: Promoters & Big Data – Part 1
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In the age of abundance, where consumers and artists alike are liberated by an infinite supply of content, consumers are increasingly placing value on live experiences. Those experiences are being redefined by one of the sector’s major players, the promoter; and they’re using data and technology to do it.
The wealth of data
Just a few years ago music industry figures were told big data would solve all their challenges, help them understand their audiences and mature their business models. Now, on the other side of the hype-cycle and past its peak, promoters are close to using data and technology to inform their operations and make billion-dollar decisions every single week.
For years promoters have used record sales and chart data to understand the popularity of acts in specific cities. However with digital sales overtaking physical worldwide and as artists switch to making more money on the road than from recorded music, that data is no longer as reliable as it once was.
The shift to new data is helping to both recreate and shape the live music industry. Data insights from website user mapping, streaming, and publisher platform insights, and in-app analytics is opening a whole new world of fan information to promoters. Not only can promoters now predict elements like ticket sales, venue sizes and the most competitive lineup, but new data offers a deeper understanding into the behaviour of the music fan; from how much of their disposable income they’re willing to spend on live music; online search and engagement habits; the brands and sponsorships they interact with most and even how long they’re spending waiting in line to get into a gig.
As the first local promoter to launch a mobile website in 2012, technology has played a major role in the growth of Mushroom Group’s Frontier Touring. From gifting fans with LED wristbands to light up stadiums on Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour to using social media insights, website analytics and concert attendee data to inform tour marketing campaigns, Frontier is well aware that enabling discovery and determining audiences can make or break a tour.
Sarah Dileo, Online Communications Coordinator at Mushroom, says behavioural data – like who is interacting with its content, when they’re doing so and what else they show an interest in – takes the guesswork out of a tour’s planning stages.
“It helps determine the best markets to visit and the schedule in which to do so,” says Dileo. “Our marketing team can use the data in tandem with engaging content to create cost-effective and impactful campaigns, hitting exactly the right potential customers.
“Once a tour wraps up, we pull data from every outlet possible to figure out what worked on a tour and what we can improve for the next time around.”
By 2020, Australia’s live music industry will grow at a faster rate, at 3% (PwC). With over 49 million people attending contemporary music performances in Australia annually (more than those attending sport events) and with the live contemporary music industry generating $1.5‐$2 billion annually, the live sector is in great shape. But how are promoters cutting through the noise of more than 13.9 billion music fans on services like Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud and YouTube (source: Next Big Sound) and engaging their target audiences?
Dileo pays close attention to Frontier’s website and social media analytics pre and post-tour. Theoretically, it’s no coincidence that the promoter’s national arena tour of Disturbed popped up on the Facebook feed of metal fans who attended a Frontier-presented show and also ‘like’ the account of fellow hard rock band Three Days Grace.
“This data makes a world of difference when creating tailored marketing campaigns, making sure our messages are hitting the right people at the right time,” says Dileo.
According to Dileo, Frontier’s “biggest top secret strategy” to reach its target audiences on social media, is to share content and news that is relevant to them.
“Taking ten minutes in the morning to trawl through social feeds and music blogs makes a world of difference in finding fresh content for the day, rather than recycling the same images, tour artwork and music videos every time.
“The proof is in the reach,” she adds. “Posts that are engaging and interesting to our followers have been known to reach hundreds of thousands of like-minded people without us spending a single cent.”
Award-winning promoter magnate, Michael Chugg is renowned for his innate ability to project ahead of the music industry’s direction and cherry-pick trends that, sometimes, aren’t even invented yet. His Chugg Entertainment sold over 60,000 tickets in just two minutes to Radiohead’s national tour in 2012 – Chugg’s promotion strategy involved social media and a couple of plugs on national youth broadcaster triple j. In 2006, Chugg’s massive Robbie Williams tour saw 500,000 attend the shows with sales predominantly tied to digital campaigns.
Michael Chugg, Chugg Entertainment
“We basically used a database of about eight or nine million people: the radio stations, the record companies, football clubs, our own databases and Robbie’s own databases,” says Chugg. “We were able to really hit it hard.”
Chugg takes full advantage of the responsiveness between artists and fans and the new data that helps him understand the audiences involved. He experiments with new marketing campaigns and uses platforms like Facebook, Kobalt Music Publishing and Spotify to analyse and extend his reach.
Kobalt released its app in May to offer real-time data on income generated by individual songs
“A lot of radio stations these days are going, ’How many people are on their Facebook? How many people do they have on Twitter?’” Chugg informs. “We are able to tell by looking at the analytics and also the data we receive [to see] which views are the strongest, the places we should be going and where we have the most airplay,” he says. “You can look at all that when it’s still early days, and we’re certainly doing that, and as a band gets bigger it becomes more relevant.”
Curating a live music evolution
In the last five years alone, technology has taken major strides in its role in the concert experience. The Grateful Dead made history last year when the five-night pay-per-view broadcast of their US Fare Thee Well concerts became the largest syndication of a live music event in history, with over 400,000 tuning in.
In 2014, US festival TomorrowWorld went entirely cashless, achieved by using the same radio-frequency identification (RFID) wristbands that served as entry tickets. Most recently though, California’s Coachella Festival, which has been live streaming on YouTube since 2011, fused virtual reality (VR) with 360 video for the first time this year. YouTube live streamed Coachella performances in 360 degrees that could be viewed with or without VR headsets. While this certainly hints at the future for local events, it’s the data lifted from Coachella’s app that’s got the industry talking.
Aloompa, the creator behind apps for festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and Life is Beautiful, among others, launched in 2009 as a replacement for the paper guide and to keep attendees up to date in real time. Now, it has evolved to offer promoters insights into three key categories: Operations, Marketing & Messaging, and Sponsorship Opportunities. Some examples of the insights it offers promoters is how long attendees are waiting in line at the bar, which sponsors had the most successful on-site activation, and which customers spent time in certain areas of the festival or engaged with a sponsor.
The Coachella app, created by Aloompa
Aloompa co-founder Drew Burchfield, says the things his company cares about the most are around data that may not have been known before.
“For example, an event producer who runs an event has your ‘event story’ up until the point in which you walk in the event through social touch points, ticket purchases, etc,” Burchfield explains. “However, the main unknown is what attendees do once they get inside. Many people may spend 1% of their disposable income, and some people spend 100% of their disposable income attending some of these events.
“Knowing which consumer behaves in what specific way can significantly inform a marketer on how to reach that person with content during the event based on their behaviour and have a very informed perspective on re-marketing them for next year’s event.”
Drew Burchfield, Aloompa
While we’re at the beginning stages of just how new data affects decisions, behaviour adoption is undoubtedly reaching new heights. Festival apps like those created by Aloompa and digital platforms like Facebook and Spotify, can tell promoters where their audiences are, who they are, and what they want. Promoters can turn all those searches into ticket sales and sponsorship opportunities.
“It’s not just about apps anymore,” says Burchfield. “It’s about how you can leverage the app as an asset to activate additional sponsorship opportunities and learn things about your event that have never been available with this new technology.”
Read Part 2 of Live Music Technology Series: Promoters & Big Data, where we delve into the future of the live consumer, the threat preying on fan demand for live music and how data helped Brisbane’s Sheppard reach international heights.