by Helga Waage 04 Apr 2017

We were was asked to do a short presentation at Digital Doughnut, a Digital Marketing meetup in London. We discussed digital marketing in the context of ticket sales in the live music industry.

We've been working in mobile, ecommerce and ticket sales for the music industry for a while and have found out some trends in this field.

Selling Tickets Is Really, Really Hard

Selling tickets to a tour has a lot of moving parts, the industry is fragmented, and endless number of things affect the outcome.

Different artists have different audiences which have different needs based on location and demographic.

Most artists will spend a significant part of their marketing efforts on social media, where different parties are responsible for different things which leads to limited ways to track the result on the ticket sales.

How Do Artists Make Money?

The current hot topic is if streaming compensates artists fairly since record sales have diminished so severely.

The music industry is the first industry to have been forced to reconsider its business model since digitalisation of goods and services at the turn of the century.

All the while consumers are still spending money – only now it's on live shows.

Half of Annual Music Spend Is on Live Shows

The average US consumer spends half of their annual music budget on live shows.

On top of that, their streaming habits and album purchases are likely to be highly influenced by the live shows they see. Touring is literally what drives streams as well as album, merchandise sales and other potential revenue generators.

Artists such as The Rolling Stones – annually ranking near the top in end of year top highest grossing tour lists – know this and explicitly tour to "promote their new album" which is what drives sales for their music catalog.

​Live Events Drive Other Music Consumption

We're not the only ones who have noticed this. So has Spotify.

Spotify presented an excellent post on the effect on streams when artists play festivals. They call it The Bonnaroo Bump because artists playing a festival will get more streams than similar artists who are not performing.

The Bonnaroo Bump works like so:

  • It starts with a small spike when the lineup is announced.
  • As the festival approaches the gap between the artists performing, and the ones who aren't, starts to grow.
  • The artists' listens peaks just before the festival as the audience gets themselves hyped up.

The effect thins out after the festival.

T-shirts and merchandise is also sold in conjunction with live events as a third source of income, further strengthening the critical nature of live events as the core of artist revenue models.

​Finding the Audience

Therefore increasing concert attendance is what will improve the artist revenues. To do that strategically and effectively, knowing the audience is key.

The terminology of 'fan' and 'audience' is often used interchangeably. We like to make that distinction clear;

  • fan is derived from the word 'fanatic' and is synonymous with 'lover', 'addict', 'enthusiast' and 'devotee' all indicating a level of attachment to the subject; while
  • audience is a 'gathering of people paying attention to something' and is synonymous with 'listener', 'spectator', 'viewer', 'patrons' and even 'the public' which indicates the subject has captured attention of a group of individuals who may or may not be attached or invested in the subject.

​Who Is the Fan?

The fan is nice – they're easy to know and identify, because those follow on social media, like photos, retweet tweets and are on the mailing list.

They are also the ones that will buy tickets far in advance, during the 'onsale'.

A handful of artists (hello Taylor Swift) can fill venues, even stadiums, with dedicated fans. However...

...​​and Who Is In the Audience?

...the audience is much more casual. And much more common.

Who seriously over the age of 25 is a "fan" of anything really? Except maybe that one band from their teenage years...

This means that the 'attracting an audience in order to fill the venue' goes, in most cases, way beyond the scope of just the fans.

In other words – if you want a sold out show you need to reach outside the circle of the easy to reach fans, and to the more casual audience.

​Who Are These People?

Luckily the audience is happy to tell us who they are, and do so all the time on social media.

As well as pictures of their friends and their shoes and the beer and the band – during each and every gig, happy concert goers will snap all the selfies (especially during that looong time when everybody is waiting for the main act to show up, "the selfie hour" if you will).

Find Your Target Demographic

Using Promogogo, you can actually surface all of these photos from the venue during the concert. Surfacing these pictures and focusing on the pictures of the audience, and not just of the artist, is a pretty good indicator of what audience should be targeted.

These pictures are from recent Garth Brooks concerts. Looking at them reveals the expected photos of couples, cute girls, the lucky fan with the artist, selfies, group photos, etc.

In other words: the target demographic.

​Look Closer

From a Garth Brooks Concert

Looking closely at these pictures reveals quite a few mother-daughter, father-daughter, mother-son and even the whole family relationship dynamic amongst the concertgoers.

This indicates that Brooks is an artist parents go to see with their (grown) kids.

Which somehow tells us a whole lot more than "the target demographic are women aged 18-55".

In Contrast With

From an Arcade Fire Concert

Arcade Fire's fans & audience members.

This could technically classify as partially the same demographic: but notice the completely different concertgoers.

It's more moody, costume-y and people are going with their friends and/or significant other as opposed to Brooks' cross-generational audience.

Now You Know Them!

So the product is live shows and you have in front of you who you're talking to.

We hope it makes crafting the correct message easier, looking at the faces of the actual people actually coming to your shows.

Right? No? Okay, this is how you do it.

The Audience Loves Being an Audience

The fan might be crazy about the artist, but appealing to the broader audience requires keeping the end goal in mind; selling tickets to your show.

  • For targeting the fan, a nice photoshopped picture will capture their attention and get a lot of social media love.
  • When addressing the audience, they're buying the experience.

Our data has repeatedly shown that shiny, happy people in the pit will get the conversion from those that are simply looking for having a good time with their friends.

That's When You Put a Product in Front of Them

Now, having got their attention, is the time to give them something to buy.

This is where all the marketing tricks come in handy: tracking page views, clicks, conversion and the rest of it.

Having a dedicated landing page with a clear purpose and a well crafted branding message proves most effective whether you are clicking from an email, a tweet or a Facebook Post.

Good to remember: nothing results in a faster click on the x button than a confusing page that isn't appropriate for the device being used.

Real-Time Tracking

Be sure to measure all the things in real-time.

As James Leavesley who spoke before us at the meet-up articulated so precisely: social media time is to normal time what dog years are to human years. One day in normal time is a week in social media time.

The beauty of social media is it's pace, and being able to instantly know if something's working.

Because if it is, great. You do you. We're with you.
If not, go back to your stats and find what's your bottle neck.

Know What You Want to See

The onsale are the first 24 hours the tickets are, you guessed it, on sale.

There are often fan pre-sales, or member pre-sales and so on, but the onsale is the big event. Selling out on the onsale is what makes the news "Madison Square Garden sold out in 2 hours". It makes the news because it really doesn't happen that often.

The Optimal Ticket Sales Graph.

During the onsale approximately half the tickets are sold, but there are still tickets available until the the day of the event, giving everyone a good opportunity to purchase a ticket without a markup. Selling a third of your tickets on the onsale is actually really, really good. But those tickets are sold to the fans.

The rest of the tickets are literally sold on a person by person basis, one or two at a time.

This requires good marketing, because you're not selling to fans any more, but to your audience. Because that's where your profit margin is. It's not in the first third of tickets. It's in the last third.

Break a Leg!

Now that the nitty, gritty management stuff has been outlined – let's not forget the music.
We wish you all the luck in putting on the best show possible to you.

Our product, Promogogo, specifically addresses the needs for touring musicians and their representatives (hello managers!). It's easy find content from your audience, engage with them on social, create campaigns and track your sales.

For a limited time, you can try it for free, or get in touch with us to request a demo.