Why Concert Listing Sites Matter In Today and Tomorrow's Market
-- There are far more ways to discover concerts than existed just a few years ago. But are more concert tickets being purchased? Probably not. But that doesn't mean the industry won't benefit from tools that keep music fans informed about local concerts.

People certainly have more opportunities to find out about concerts. Just this week, Songkick partnered with the Echo Nest and Bandsintown released an Android app. Songkick's Spotify app released in November has got it over 100,000 new users. It's easier than ever to syndicate concert information.

But anecdotal and publicly available evidence suggests overall ticket sales have not risen as consumers have become better informed through digital media. Although the number of concert tickets sold by Live Nation increased to 71 million in 2011 from 66.8 million in 2010, the increase doesn't appear to come from the type of organic growth associated with apps, social media and email marketing. Instead, the 4.2-million increase in concert tickets from 2010 to 2011 probably came from acquisitions (TGLP in the US, Serviticket in Spain), a 5.5% increase in events and a recovery from a weak 2010 concert season.

Ticketmaster's financial statements also don't indicate an increase due to a more informed public. Its 2009 annual report says the company actually sold fewer tickets in 2008 than in 2007 if acquisitions are taken into account. Concert ticket sales dropped in 2009 as a result of the expiration of Ticketmaster's principal agreement for primary ticketing with Live Nation. Services like Songkick and Bandsintown weren't active in 2008, but social media, email and various websites had already made it easier to stay informed on local shows.

Although ticket sales aren't rising as customers are better informed, it appears the types of concerts they attend are changing. Amphitheater shows have been deemphasized in favor of arenas, and smaller venues are doing healthy business. Expect this trend to continue over time as the number of superstars decline and the number of mid- and lower-tier artists increases. Look at the trend already seen in recorded music sales and fast-forward 20 years: fewer legacy artists able to fill arenas and more young bands playing clubs and theaters.

As live music becomes more fragmented, there is a greater need to use data and analytics to help people find the right concerts. It's arguably easier to find out about larger shows - concerts at arenas and amphitheaters are more likely to advertise on TV and radio, and their larger attendance means word of mouth can travel further. But keeping up with all the artists playing smaller clubs requires either more work or better tools. Smaller venues don't have the same advertising reach. They have relied more on a concert-going public that reads local periodicals, visits local music stores, follows local events online and gets information from venues' and promoters' email lists. And there is more information to track because there are so many more shows at small venues than at big venues.

Smarter tools may not get people out to more concerts - even though this is the stated goal of companies like Songkick and Bandsintown - but they will help people see the bands they like most.


X5 Music Group To Self: Perhaps Spotify Doesn't Cannibalize Sales?

-- If Spotify cannibalizes download sales, X5 Music Group isn't aware of it. The label known best for its low-priced digital compilations released some information Tuesday that shows the positive impact its new Spotify app, called Classify, has had on its download sales.

X5 points to the following statistics for "The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music" after the launch of Classify: album sales rose about 50% and the title reached #1 on iTunes Classical bestsellers while average daily streams from the album increased 830% from the prior month. The company says no additional marketing or promotions existed that would muddy these results. Their conclusion, and it seems to be the right one based on this limited information, is greater awareness at Spotify resulted in an increase in purchased downloads elsewhere.

These results are probably a best-case scenario and won't necessarily be duplicated by other albums featured in Classify. Curious about the app's impact on other titles, I asked X5's publicist why the company chose to highlight the success of this album in particular. I was told "The 50 Greatest" got prime real estate on the Classify app and is a high-profile release, "so it illustrates the app's promotional value most clearly."

"The recent sales spike for '50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music' follows the same trend we have seen in Sweden, where there is a positive correlation between Spotify streaming and digital sales," X5 CEO and co-founder Johan Lagerlof said in a statement. "We have known for some time that streaming services do not cannibalize sales from traditional music outlets, and this growth makes that even more clear."

Impressive Though Growth Slowing: Facebook's Updated S-1 SEC Filing
-- Facebook's updated S-1 SEC filing updates some already impressive numbers but also showed why revenue growth is slowing. The company claims to have had 901 million users worldwide as of March 31, up from 845 million at the end of 2012. Daily active users rose to 526 million from 483 million over the same period, and they generated an average of 3.2 billion likes and comments per day during the first quarter.

Revenue in the first quarter was $1.06 billion, up 45% from $731 million in the first quarter of 2011. Net income dropped to $205 million from $235 million due to large increases in marketing and sales, research and development and share-based compensation. Average revenue per user (ARPU) in the first quarter was $1.21, up 6% year-over-year but dropped 12% from the fourth quarter of 2011. The company blames "seasonal trends" for the sequential decline and points out that ARPU dropped 10% from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011.

But Facebook admits most of its recent growth has come from markets with relatively low ARPU. In other words, Facebook will not get Western ARPUs as it expands into non-Western markets. This trend should incentivize to get more revenue out of existing users in Western markets. If you're wondering why Facebook might be so interested in the content of Vevo and other video companies, look no further. If Facebook can get people to hang around even longer, it can generate more money from its existing users.
( Facebook S-1 filing)

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