Live Music Technology Series: Promoters & Big Data – Part 2
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Inventing the future of the live consumer
Australian live music subscription service, GiggedIn, was born out of the frustration that 98% of live gigs in Australia don’t sell out. Launched as a Kickstarter crowd-funding platform in late 2012, GiggedIn is one of the fastest-growing local tech start-ups reporting 200% growth in May.
Essentially, GiggedIn charges its members $35 per month and offers them access to around 50 shows each month in Melbourne and Sydney. Last month, GiggedIn sent its members to exclusive gigs by Harts, Alpine, Tkay Maidza and Patrick James. The service played the role of promoter for the shows and put forward an offer with the artists’ agents to secure them.
Tkay Maidza at a GiggedIn exclusive show
“We’re about increasing the size of the industry as a whole,” says GiggedIn Founder and CEO Ed Onggo. “[…] It’s increasing consumption because it’s so much more convenient to consume.
“With GiggedIn, because a member has already paid for the service, and they’re part of the GiggedIn community, and they have access to around 50 events every single month or more, a lot of the time they’re going to shows that they wouldn’t have bought a ticket to.”
GiggedIn launched at the acme of live music’s data-driven future. User mapping on its website, along with survey data and member information, helps inform what events GiggedIn pursues and hosts. The locally-made technology that’s built into the site can tell Onggo about user experiences, time spent at specific areas of the website, how fast show passes are claimed and how members engage in the members area.
“We’ve got really strong data that tells us what our members like and what they want to go see,” says Onggo. “That’s really valuable as we work alongside promoters as well as be a promoter so that we can then increase consumption by putting on shows that we know that people will love.”
Earlier this year GiggedIn conducted a case study of its members where it sent a selection to see psych-reggae band Ocean Alley. Interestingly those members also went to see indie-pop acts Collarbones and Seekae, bands from vastly differing genres to Ocean Alley.
“It showed that a lot of our members and genuine music fans that love to go out and discover new things,” says Onggo. “[…] We were starting to see little gaps in the market about what events we need to recruit and if we can’t recruit them then we’ll create them ourselves and that’s when we act as the promoter.”
GiggedIn analytics is also in talks with promoters to host a club night after it found its members “are really into” EDM music.
“We’ve got all the history of every single event they go to,” says Onggo. “Data is extremely important for us. We’re collecting really rich data but as the company matures and continues to grow it will play even more of a role in our decision making.”
Sheppard: A case study
Music analytics company, Next Big Sound, provides a data platform that centralises sales, social, streaming and event data for every artist in the world. It tracks around one million artists and uses a predictive success algorithm that can tell you the likelihood of an artist hitting the Billboard 200 within the next year.
Next Big Sound predicted James Bay would be a major US chart climber in 2015. The UK artist’s debut LP Chaos and the Calm hit the Top 5 in seven countries, achieving Gold and 2x Platinum certifications. It had the same prediction for Sheppard last year. The Brisbane band charted at #31 in the US last April with debut album Bombs Away and its lead single Geronimo was awarded 34 Platinum certifications in 24 countries.
Chugg says he identified early on that the key to global ubiquity was to build their audience through online engagement. Working each territory separately, Sheppard’s team planned campaigns based on data from social networks like Facebook and Twitter along with streaming services like Vevo and Spotify, based around behavioural analytics they were able to pull from those platforms.
“When we’re planning a campaign we look at the database on fans,” says Chugg. “Are they new fans? Are they longtime fans? You plan your campaign around all those stats.
“[…] We’re finding that content is what people are looking for now,” he adds. “We’re finding that [it’s beneficial to] build as much content as you can; whether it be footage from Rock in Rio [festival], an interview with the act, the act talking to the fans…”
Sheppard now has over 200 million streams on Spotify and is tracking around 2.7 million more each month. The band has got 62,000 followers on Twitter, 130,000 on Facebook, and over 150 million cumulative YouTube streams.
“[It’s] pretty amazing considering we haven’t released any new product in quite a while,” Chugg laughs.
As Sheppard begins recording their sophomore album in July, Chugg Music knows not only a ballpark figure of how many copies it will sell, but where the sales will come from, where they should tour the album, and what size venues they should book.
“You put all that together and you know that when a new record comes out, you know where to go and where to aim it at,” says Chugg.
Interestingly, Spotify analytics revealed 55% of all streams of Sheppard’s breakout single Geronimo came from Nordic countries. Soon after the single took off in the territory the band played each of its major cities, performing 45 festivals in Europe alone in 2015. The track is now 5x Platinum in Sweden, 4x Platinum in Denmark and 6x Platinum in Finland.
When the band performed Rock in Rio in Brazil last September, the live stream of the concert trended #1 in the world for 48 hours.
“Then about a week later we were in Mexico City for a different show which sold out, but we did a music chart TV show [TV Joven] there that airs through all of South America and some parts of America,” he explains. “The kids were on a live interview airing the clips for Let Me Down Easy and Geronimo, and the tweets were coming in at 1,000 a minute.”
More recently, Chugg used social media analytics to predict the sold out national tour of Australian-born songwriter/actress Claire Bowen, best known as Scarlett on US TV series Nashville.
“We announced the tour on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and on our website,” Chugg explains. “We knew from the reaction – some 70,000 replies and opens – that that tour was going to sell out. You can get a pretty good idea.
“[…] Consequently the more you can use digital and social media, the less you spend on other [mediums],” Chugg adds. “You still have to spend on radio and print and TV but with the growth of digital, we’ve been able to reduce those [expenses].”
A new era of experience
In 2020, or perhaps even before, new data will become so much a part of the fabric of the global live music sector that eventually it will make many decisions which were previously left to gut instinct and past experience.
“An attendee’s ‘story’ at an event can tell you a lot about what kind of experience they had,” says Burchfield. “We know that is going to factor into how events are produced in the future very soon.”
Sophisticated apps, smart devices and wearables will create smoother, cashless events where the data and digital records obtained in doing so will decrease financial risks and place businesses in better form. Attitudes towards smartphones and devices at live events will change as they simplify ticketing and can be used to take part in the concert experience, in real time.
Interestingly, GiggedIn is readying an app that will take their fan-driven approach even further and could possibly see GiggedIn members taking part in concerts.
“One untapped opportunity around live music and events is around the ability for fans to affect the experience in real time, on stage,” says Onggo. “[…] The technology is already there it just hasn’t been applied. Things like what colour fans want the stage to be, or an app in your phone where once we reach a certain level of noise balloons will be released,” he laughs. “There’s so many applications.”
There are a few instances where technology isn’t expected to eclipse human curation however. In in the area of Virtual Reality and pay-per-view streaming the barriers between the physical and virtual experience will continue to erode. In the live sector, ticket sales statistics for live-streamed events like Coachella only prove an increase in demand.
“I think industry-wide it’s understood that there is nothing yet that can replace the feeling of being at a festival,” Burchfield explains. “These are magical places where people get to escape, listen to great music with friends, and be among like minded people. Digital innovation has an extremely long way to go before it can sway the desire to physically want to be there. “
“I talk to kids and fans and people in the industry and most people prefer to go and see the real thing,” says Chugg.
Onngo from GiggedIn believes that new data won’t ever dictate a promoter’s lineup either, however it will confirm or reject assumptions.
“Many of the top-tier festivals’ taste making ability, the human element, is necessary to drive things forward,” he says. “But data can really validate your decisions along the way and point you to things you might not have naturally noticed. Booking the right acts is just as important as NOT booking the wrong ones.”
It could be said that Onggo’s work with GiggedIn, in driving Australian consumers toward subscription live music, is not only necessary to help the industry grow but it’s where the sector is heading with millennials increasingly engaging with music in this way.
“It’s always going to be extremely important for promoters to have a lot of experience and a lot of intuition when making decisions,” notes Onggo. “But we think in the future, while that will continue to be important, data needs to play a bigger part in making it more efficient. So that not only are more shows being created and more amazing acts given opportunities, but there’s a lot more certainty in that those shows and those acts are going to have really packed out rooms.”
With expectations and guesswork removed, promoters will be automating tasks and engaging with their audiences, and while the industry’s bread and butter in live touring won’t change, the financial opportunities will become endless. Crucially, these opportunities could mean such deep behavioural information could be bought, sold and licensed to third parties.
“The topic of data is a very serious among our clients as they are trying to be the most competitive,” reveals Burchfield. “[…] If there is a future where this might occur it would happen with the consumer and the event’s consent on the front end. Many events have sponsors associated with them that might seem non-competitive and the toughest question is, would you consider an artist a third party?”
One company which believes anyone should have access to big data, is Eventbrite.
Chris McDonnell, Head of Music Partnerships at the ticketing platform, says those who organise an event can use the generated data to grow their profile or business.
“Ultimately that’s how a business grows,” says McDonnell. “By delivering a great event, satisfying your customers and then telling them all about the next instalment.”
Many of the major ticketing platforms own the data collected by ticket buyers, regardless of the terms of service agreements the event creator has with attendees. According to McDonnell, the data generated from Eventbrite-ticketed events allows users to build a detailed picture of their audiences. Its in-app system offers real-time information on buyers’ gender, date of birth, location and even dietary requirements, should the organiser request it.
Eventbrite’s Organiser app
“If they’re collecting that information from their customers, they can log in any time whether they’re on their mobile device or they’re on their desktop,” says McDonnell. “They can see their live statistics: they can see bookings coming through, they can see where people are booking their tickets, how they’re booking their tickets… Whereas more traditional [ticketing] companies, regardless of whether they’re allowing you to collect that data or not, they’re not necessarily always able to give you your own access to directly get that data in real time.”
Eventbrite’s Organiser app
This poses an incredible opportunity for promoters, or even budding event producers, to seek financial backing in a sponsor. Deep knowledge about an event’s core audience is a valuable tool to those who are ahead of the game and taking a corporate-sponsored approach to live music.
“Having that kind of really detailed data about your core audience is going to be really useful in helping you make your case for a brand activation at your event.”