Clearly, technology has impacted the music industry more than any other single factor. We can debate whether an advertising or subscription model is more likely to sustain growth, whether streaming will ever catch up in sales to the historical highs of physical product, or if all but a few top tier artists will ever earn as much as they should or did from the sale of recorded music in the past. In any case, we know that digital distribution is here to stay.
Likewise, technology now plays a huge role in the live entertainment segment. As an entertainment consulting firm, we often are asked about best practices with respect to the use of technology in terms of marketing and promoting shows.
The concert industry first entered the digital revolution as ticketing companies powered up on-line sales replacing phone sales and physical outlets. Besides creating a more efficient and cost effective platform, on-line sales captured email addresses that could be leveraged to create targeted marketing campaigns unlike the shotgun approach of radio, TV and print. Emails had value and still do, but soon hit an impasse with spam, inaccurate data, and an on-going debate between the various industry stakeholders as to who owned the data and how and by whom it could be used. And since the data was being derived from the transaction, we only got the data of the actual purchaser and not the folks who joined them at the show.
As the landscape morphed, on-line became more interconnected and social media became the platform for music artists, promoters, and venues to engage the fans. But just like so many other businesses trying to translate traditional terrestrial business models to on-line strategies, we entered with an archaic “push” philosophy: blast all channels with as much advertising as possible to what we believed was a targeted demo ready to interact simply because they were on social media platforms. We soon learned that social media was a place to share and, for marketers, an opportunity to ”pull” fans as compared to pushing against an audience already tapped by ad saturation. The mantra became “Tell a story and create a community that both seller and fan can become members of.” The more engaging the content, the more likely the fans would join the conversation and not only buy a ticket, but excite others to do the same. Although we saw some lift, we struggled to create fresh, alluring content on an on-going basis and penetrate networks overloaded with other advertisers vying over the same pool of eyeballs. Ticket buyers still remained elusive to the artists, promoters, and venues. Until now.
Innovators have finally figured out that there was one place where we could definitely find the fans—at the show. We knew they liked the live experience, the artist, and a good chance the genre as a whole. It became clear that any strategy designed to capture fans for future engagement on-line would need to include an on-site component.
It started with location based services like Foursquare that would let you find your friends at music festivals and venues. It then moved on to beacon technology that would find fans on-site and message special offers to them in return for their data. Beacons required hardware installation and, more importantly, active opt-in by fans into the venue app, making it another technology victim of app saturation. And now, we have finally hit the jackpot with cutting edge GPS location based services that connect with fans on-site without hardware costs or the burden of signing up. The most sophisticated of these services allow you to engage with fans directly so long as they are communicating on any of the major social media networks. In fact, the product user can simply draw a radius around the venue and capture the fans, message back in real time, and even capture their data for future engagement. Although there are a handful of products on the market, we happen to favor Ampsy. Ampsy allows the artist, promoter and entertainment venue management to aggregate critical information about the fans/customers for not only that one show, but an entire tour or season schedule at the venue. It displays super fans with their account information, their social media channels of choice, and a wide range of relevant data that can be sorted anyway you want to see it. And Ampsy is hyper-local allowing the marketer to start a direct, on-going conversation with fans that starts in the parking lot and lasts long after the curtain has closed. The Holy Grail. With these technologies, we have greater access to the fans than ever before and greater insight on what they want and how much they will pay for it.