2019 American Music Awards

Personal Data Collection & the Future of Tech in Touring Discussed at Billboard Live Music Summit

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Privacy To The Forefront: What Is The Live Entertainment Industry Doing To Safeguard Your Data panel at The 2019 Billboard Live Music Summit + Awards at the Montage Beverly Hills on Nov. 5, 2019 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Moderated by The Verge's Dani Dehl, panelists included Qcue founder Barry Kahn, AEG Digital chief digital officer Brooke Michael Kain, Interscope digital marketing head Chris Mortimer and Raised in Space Enterprises president Shara Senderoff.

A physical concert ticket used to tell a pretty straightforward story before it got crumpled up or pasted into a scrapbook: How much a person paid to see a particular band, on what night and in which seats. Today, a single barcode scan can give music companies a full-fledged cross-section of a consumer's purchases, preferences -- even their face. 

During the “Privacy to the Forefront” panel at the 2019 Billboard Live Music Summit in Beverly Hills, California, on Wednesday (Nov. 6), panelists from a swathe of corners of the live music industry shed light on their respective goals for data collection and the challenges they face in safeguarding against cyberattacks and other forms of privacy abuse. 

"Right now, 'data' is this broad word and it exists across so many silos of social media -- we need to find a better solution for actually spend digital advertising dollars against those audiences so that we can retain them and improve them," said Shara Senderoff, president of Raised in Space Enterprises. 

AEG chief digital officer Brooke Michael Kain broke down how her company maximizes the data it collects from online ticket transactions and that comes from the ticket itself. "We can see what they're buying onsite and what kind of ticket they have. We collect data if they opt in through our apps, all of that fuels our drive to personalize the experience onsite," she said. "My biggest focus is using data for personalization. On the very basic side, it's: Let me make sure that those who want a ticket know about the show. Ultimately, we'd like to use data to deliver a more personalized experience."

Labels are also interested in using consumer data to create more personal experiences, said Interscope head of digital marketing Chris Mortimer, but for slightly different purposes. “We're a little less transactional and more focused on using data for content consumption," he said. "We want to service our fans by finding music videos, audio experiences -- basically anything that's going to help cement their relationship with the artist by helping them find relevant information. 

"For me, the artist-fan relationship is sacred so I think aside from the myriad of data compliances and privacy policies we're trying to navigate, we want to make sure that we are providing a fan experience that the artist is proud of and that the artist is comfortable speaking to." 

Not all live entertainment companies are after personal data. Barry Kahn, founder of Austin-based software startup Qcue, said that even though its service is rooted in distilling information from Big Data -- the company gives pricing strategies to live entertainment organizations -- acquiring personal data is of little value. "We use data in almost the opposite way, since we're focused on ticket pricing and we don't have the ability to do that personalization," said Kahn. "So if you think about what the ticket sales process looks like, there are set prices to the general public -- we purposely don't collect any personalized data and focus on monetizing price data to help set the overall price of ticketed events…. There are a lot of regulations around data. We made a decision that we're going to stay away from it." 

Investment firms like Raised in Space Enterprises are somewhere in the middle: It hopes to find the technology for data acquisition that benefits every part of the live sector. Raised in Space's president Shara Senderoff said the solution to data collection and privacy concerns may currently only exist outside the music industry. 

"From my end, we set out to look at technology across the board and figure out what solutions are out there that can solve this broader data and infrastructure problem that exists in many facets of the entire flow -- which is, first, how to manage the data from an audience perspective, from taking an artist audience and saying, 'How do we retain this in a way that allows us to utilize it to inform?' and, 'How does that impact advertising dollars?'" said Senderoff. "One of the areas I focus on is looking for technology companies that can help every player across the music industry be able to focus, from a legal perspective, a publisher, a promoter -- wherever you exist you need a data management solution -- to bubble up those audiences and say how do we look at them in an insightful way to then better spend our digital advertising dollars to actually have precision ROI and precision targeting on targeting our fans and ultimately converting them to any form of revenue stream that we need to convert them into."

Until those advancements in data protection are found, AEG's Kain said that one of the best practices for safeguarding against data tampering is by owning the data and not relying on third-parties. "You're less vulnerable when you've built everything in-house. Trying to own your own data and post it in one place allows you to really protect your data. When you start using 10 different third-party agencies, you don't know that they're as secure. So that's one way AEG really tries to protect our consumer data. The vulnerability is that we're a really big company." 


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