When it comes to increasing concert ticket sales, there are three key points to consider: Data, data and more data. At least that’s how Shane Tobin, head of partnerships for content and creator at Spotify, views it.
“It’s about personalization and making sure that we are taking the data that you give us every day by listening on Spotify and following artists and turning that into additional opportunities,” said Tobin at the Billboard Live Music Summit at the Montage in Beverly Hills on Tuesday. “And that’s kind of what we found with ticketing: The more that we take advantage of the personalization data we have … where people can find shows that are really relevant to them, we’ll do a much better job acting as a funnel into converting ticket purchasers.”
Tobin isn’t the only one who sees consumer data as the most important element. Joining him on the panel Ticketing with the Right Price, Right Platform and Right Fan in Mind — moderated by Josh Baron, head of business development at Project Admission — were Patrick Ryan, co-founder at Eventellect; Boris Patronoff, CEO at See Tickets North America; Fabrice Sergent, managing partner at Bandsintown; Brooke Michael Kain, chief digital officer at AEG Presents; and Brian Bowe, senior director of pricing strategy at Ticketmaster Music.
Gathering this data is another issue entirely. While Spotify retains a load of metrics that allow it to recommend songs and artists to its users via playlists such as Discover Weekly and Release Radar, for ticket sellers and promoters, digitizing concert tickets is key in tracking user metrics for the primary market.
“We’re trying to digitize the ticket so that we can understand and know the entire chain of custody of who has that ticket,” said Bowe. “We don’t want one person buying and going with three friends but we don’t know who those three friends are. So we want to digitize that ticket, so that they can pass that ticket onto their friends. And then the promoters and the agents can know who’s attending the show and better market to them in the future.”
Platforms like Spofity and Bandsintown — which alerts users when their favorite artists are coming to a venue near them — are essential in boosting concert sales in the 21st century. To that end, the popular Bandsintown website and app, which boasted 38 million registered concert-goers as of October 2017, has added new notifications for users, including one that alerts them when a show is in danger of selling out. Also important is seamlessly integrating the app with ticket sellers like Ticketmaster and Eventbrite to ensure an uninterrupted “purchase flow,” as well as making it easier for users to discover new artists through their recommendation functions.
“60 percent of these recommendations are for artists that people don’t necessarily track,” said Sergent. “And so therefore, discovering the artist matters. And hence the very important piece that people like Spotify, Apple Music play — in our case, they are fully integrated into the app — to let people discover the music and the artist as well, and spend some time just listening…. It’s not only discovering the date of the show, it’s also discovering the music and the artist.”
Of course, knowing how to price a show is an important part of the process, and Bowe notes that for promoters and artists, it’s all about doing so with a long-term strategy in mind.
“Ticketmaster is very much in the business of empowering promoters to understand what their building is worth and then decide working with the artist’s team what’s best to charge,” said Bowe. “[But] there’s a difference between what someone could charge and what someone should charge. When you’re looking at a career arc and trying to build a relationship with the fans over a 30-year career, we want to empower the promoter to do that.” If a show sells well, initiatives like Ticketmaster’s Official Platinum Tickets — which prices a subset of tickets for an in-demand show according to market demand — promoters and artists can benefit from higher prices for consumers who buy late in the sales cycle.
Driving ticket sales is also about utilizing the secondary market, which Ryan said shouldn’t be defined as “scalping” as long as the artist benefits. That said, he understands that some musicians simply aren’t fans of the secondary market as a general rule. “Our services are about leveraging the secondary market to increase yield,” he said. “But we also understand that there’s some artists that really want to have a locked-down ecosystem. And we can actually consult them on how to best use the tools that a Ticketmaster or an AXS provides that will really lock down the solution. So it comes down to how people view scalping and how they want to leverage it, or restrict it.”
At the end of the day, more than one panelist noted that their primary objective in strategizing around ticket sales lay in empowering the artist, and adjusting said strategy according to each individual artist’s wants and needs.
“Sometimes an artist doesn’t want to offer super expensive tickets because they want to be a man or woman of the people if you will, and they want things to be super affordable,” said Kain. “Sometimes they realize that they’ve created an amazing experience and they want to create that sort of elite group. Sometimes they want to see what the market does with it, right? Ultimately the products are fantastic on both sides, but we’re really in the job of doing the right thing by the artist, and that it does an awful lot of times end up being an artist’s decision.”