Meetings - Friday
Workshop: Selling tickets with Google & YouTube
The Open Forum: The bosses level part i / part ii
Performance Royalties: Shows, songs & settlements
The Dance Club: The beat goes on?
Workshop: Better brand partnerships
Festival Forum: Open space invaders
Market Focus: Australia
Workshop: A greener live
The Digital Audience: Crossing streams
With over 1 billion regular users across its seven main properties, Google offers arguably the biggest digital footprint in the world. All this data and intricate understanding of consumer behavioural patterns are things those in the live industry, most notably ticketing, should be moving to harness more directly.
Stephanie Kovach (industry manager, ticketing, at Google) gave a presentation to a packed room explaining just how Google can be a strong partner for the live business and help it work more efficiently to see better results.
She opened by comparing the average consumer in 1969 (“Life was pretty simple”) to consumers today (“Our lives aren’t that simple”) and key to understanding this shift is how they are navigating (and generating) a vast number of data points as their smartphone becomes a regular fixture in their day, with the average person looking at their screen 150 times a day. This both leaves an intricate data trail behind them, much of which Google is in a position to collate and dissect, as well as opening up a massive retail window for smart ticketing companies.
“The phone is pretty much engrained in what we do,” Kovach said. “The consumer journey has been fractured into hundreds of real-time intent moments.”
This idea of “moments” is what Google says it can help the live business understand and act on. “Winning the battle requires mastering a moment mindset,” she argued. Companies need to know when customers are most receptive during the day to get messages about tickets; they will benefit greatly from identifying the optimum moment of the day for promotion and sales.
Kovach then went on to outline five key moments and when is best for ticketing companies to create sales opportunities for fans:
- I-want-to-watch-what-I-am-into moments
- I-want-to-know moments (“The user isn’t really in purchase mode yet, so how do you move them from one into the other?”)
- I-want-to-go moments (“It’s about understanding that mindset when that consumer is consuming different content on their mobile device.”)
- I-want-to-do moments
- I-want-to-buy moments (“This could be any time someone is on their phone and have given consent or interest to buy.”)
Marking out the generational changes, Kovach said that teens treat all this as second nature. Ticketing companies, therefore, have to adapt to this generational and cultural shift to understand why they buy tickets in very different ways.
The rest of the presentation focused on what she termed The Three Ps For Promoters
People. There are 1bn people across Google’s seven products (Google Play, Android, Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Chrome, Search). “There are lots of signals,” she said, adding that companies want to connect them all. “You can use your email data to find users across search, Gmail and YouTube,” she explained, targeting fans with ads. It is about understanding how to take a user’s intent to go to a concert and parlaying that into a sale. This can also be used to upsell them VIP packages or offer them on-site deals and exclusive content. “It’s really about fostering loyal fanbases and ensuring you give them the experience you intend to, before, during and after the event.”
Product. “It’s ensuring we get your product [i.e. tickets] in front of the right people at the right time,” she said. If you look at a daily chart of users’ media consumption patterns, they watch mobile video throughout the day whereas they watch TV in peaks and troughs. She quoted a Millward Brown study that found 26% of people polled claim video impacts on their decision to go to a concert. “How do you win that moment?” she asked. Dropping tour ads into YouTube videos is one way and contextually targeting based on the viewer’s location is another. “It’s about understanding these moments in the user’s day to sell them tickets. What I have learned being in ticketing is that search is very much at the core.” To get the most out of that she said getting your event listed earlier in the search stage is paramount.
Place. “Google is at an interesting point,” Kovach said. “We have a very good handle on signals – especially when using Maps or location.” Smartphones are key to location targeting, with Millward Brown research claiming that 30% of all mobile queries are related to location. Companies can ring-fence a specific radius around a venue and direct fans within that catchment area by targeting ads at them when they search Google or use YouTube. This is a way to offer last-minute tickets or an upsell on the day of the gig. “You can get really creative in terms of how you do this,” she said.
During the audience Q&A, IQ asked Kovach if she saw the rise of ad-blocking technology as a cause for concern in terms of undermining all the ad-targeting opportunities she spent the previous half hour discussing. She said that they were not seeing any adverse effects at the moment. That said, it is clearly going to be an issue in the coming years and one that, for now, Google does not appear to have an official answer for.
ILMC managing director Greg Parmley launched the 28th edition of the conference by sharing the stage with Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino, who hammered home the theme that artists need to be braver in how they price the house.
Rapino said that not maximising this means that the secondary market will be out of the full control of both live companies and governments. “If you spent $4,000 to buy a ticket, we should be kissing your ass!” he said of those fans prepared to pay a high price for front-row seats. “You are a really committed fan.”
He went on to say that on the one hand, acts are still quite scared to charge high sums for front-row seats and less for seats at the back. “That’s generally not a good brand position,” he said. On the other hand, they will still be upset that secondary ticketing companies are profiting from this. He agreed this controversial topic was a difficult thing to fix and suggested that the live business has had to fight fire with fire.
“What we learned in America was we couldn’t wait for the world to become perfect when StubHub was running away with the market,” he said, saying that it was reckless for ticketing companies to redirect fans to the likes of StubHub when a show sold out. “We can’t sit there and let the market run away,” he said, suggesting that Ticketmaster+ was his company’s move to solve this. “We’d like to figure out how to get all the money in the artists’ hands. We will happily support some legislation as we have to play by the rules more than the other guys.”
He also said there is a huge education challenge here as opportunistic vendors on secondary sites are offering tickets for big shows at massively inflated prices – even before tickets have gone on sale to anyone. “Spec selling drives me mad,” he said. “40% of the inventory on StubHub isn’t real – it’s spec selling.”
Rapino believes there is still a lot to be positive about globally, especially as digital is proving its worth and more markets are opening up to major tours. “Over the last 10 years, we have gone from being a step up from car salesmen in the early days, to becoming a respected part of the business,” he suggested. “The part that excites us is that it’s a global business. We have been gifted by the Internet as opposed to the other side [labels].”
He added that 60%+ of Live Nation’s business is now outside of the US and that this is growing. “It’s a global business that we have seen expand dramatically,” he said, adding that Eastern Europe, Asia and South America are all brimming with potential. “There are more and more markets now that can support the guarantee,” he said, revealing that an act like Coldplay can get the same take-home gross in a market like Colombia than they do in London or Detroit.
“We are spending a lot of money and time in Asia,” he revealed of Live Nation’s expansion plans. “We understand the magnitude of that region from China onwards. Latin American for us has become a big market.”
Diversification is also, he feels, key for the future growth of live. “The margins on promoting are slim,” he said. “You have to build an ancillary business around it.” This means getting involved in venues, festivals, ticketing, sponsorship and more. With 63m+ customers coming to their shows, it is about finding ancillary revenue sources from that.
Asked if markets like the US and UK (where consumers average 3.4 shows a year) are at saturation point, he admitted it was “a tall order” to push them up to 4.5 shows a year. But he does not see that as a concern. “It’s been 3.4 for years and 19 year olds are still going to shows. It is continually regenerating itself.” The focus will now have to be on keeping live relevant to younger consumers in mature markets while growing the average in emerging markets from 1.5 to 2 shows a year.
Returning to the issue of pricing the house properly, he said it is possible to charge $4,000 for a great seat on the front row. “I’d rather the artist had the $4,000 and think about subsidising the [other] fan,” he said. “That is how we are going to solve secondary.” He gave the example of a Kid Rock tour where he ostensibly charged $20 a ticket and massively grew his average venue size from 8,000 to 18,000 a show. They also charged $1,000 for the best seats at the front and used that to subsidise the other tickets at $20. This, he feels, is something more artists will start to do.
“Demand is bigger than ever and that is good for us,” he said of how the connected world is driving international opportunities. “We know there is global demand and it is unlimited.”
Live Nation’s president of touring international, Phil Bowdery, chaired the second part of the opening panel at ILMC 28. Joining him on stage were Michael Gudinski (The Mushroom Group/Frontier Touring), Superfly co-founder Rick Farman (Bonnaroo, Outside Lands), CAA co-head Mike Greek (One Direction, Sigur Rós, Sam Smith), Red Light Management’s UK MD James Sandom (Bastille, Kaiser Chiefs, The Vaccines), and ITB's Lucy Dickins (Adele, Mumford & Sons, Jamie T).
Phil Bowdery opened the session by quoting last year’s key figures: the Top 100 worldwide tours of 2015 grossed $4.7bn, up 11% from 2014 but down compared to the 5bn in 2013. Tickets sold by the top 100 were just about 60m, up 16% compared to 2014, and less than the 63m record of 2013. Taylor Swift staged the largest tour ever in North America, grossing $200m, One Direction came second, but beat her in terms of fans they played to (2m). AEG sold 15m tickets, while Live Nation stood at 30m tickets sold, “as the company moved into profitability”.
The panel was generally pleased with their own results in 2015. “You gotta keep up with the future, all the time”, and “we have the responsibility to stay ahead of the curve”, were both statements that resonated with everyone, be it promoter, agent or manager.
In the light of tragic events last year – the Colectiv fire in Romania and the terrorist attack in Paris – the subject of show safety was addressed. The panel agreed that there was no way of preparing, let alone preventing such things from happening, no matter how much you increase security. “It’s hard to plan for catastrophe”, said Sandom.
The tariffs that promoters pay to authors’ rights societies were also addressed. Specifically, the practice of collecting societies granting promoters discounts that don’t end up with the artists. The panel agreed that this was an unacceptable practice, and Farman was grateful that “the whole topic is not a real issue in America”. The same is true for Australia, with Gudinski explaining “There’s never been a rebate in Australia. You get a penalty if you don’t pay on time.”
The panel then moved onto the state of festivals. Everybody agreed that offering a unique experience was key, and that headliners weren’t necessarily the drivers anymore. Farman pointed to Bonnaroo, which has turned into one of the largest comedy events in America. “We’re a creative company, [finding new ways of engaging the audience] is what we get off on.”
The abundance of festivals and the increasing competition overseas made promoters book their line-ups as early as December of the previous year. Greek had to say to that: “Fuck the competition! Allow us to do concerts in January and February, and then announce [your line-ups].”
As far as consolidation was concerned, which not only happens in the promoters’ but also the agents’ space, Greek reminded the audience that artists simply demanded more. The same was true for the management business, Sandom added. Paul Crockford, who was sitting in the audience, wanted to know whether there was still space for the individual, be it a promoter or an agent.
Farman pointed out companies that were founded in the wake of the consolidation wave and were doing just fine. He was convinced that consolidation made other players step up their game.
This proved a panel that pulled no punches in regard to one of the most contentious issues facing payments from international collecting societies and the controversy around discounts that are applied.
Jon Webster opened by asking if performance royalties should be seen as a tax. “It’s equitable remuneration,” he said. “It is part of the show.”
Paul Crockford (Paul Crockford Management) explained how he first became aware of the issue in 2010 when one of his acts, Mark Knopfler, was touring in the Netherlands and their tour accountant spotted some serious issues going through the receipts. “In his follow up work he noticed there was a massive discrepancy between the amount that [Dutch collecting society] Buma had received and passed onto PRS versus what was in the settlement that Mojo Concerts had deducted on the settlement itself,” he said. Despite raising this with PRS in the UK, he felt that nothing was actually achieved when it contacted Buma.
“There was a discount, rebate, kickback or however you want to define it that Buma had agreed with Mojo Concerts,” he says. “When we fronted it up with Buma, the argument presented was that in an effort to increase the live rate, which Mojo had refused to go along with, they gave Mojo a discount based on the fact that they do a vast number of shows in Holland. It was on the basis that, hopefully, they would generate more income across the board from other promoters who work in that same semi-monopolistic position.”
Crockford claimed that very few people knew that any of this was happening. “Also Mojo wasn’t declaring that discount as part of the show income. Their argument was that it was money they got back from Buma and it doesn’t matter to them where it comes from, as it’s not part of the show’s settlement. My argument, of course, was that it was exactly the opposite. Buma should not be discounting my artist’s income. If they are, that money should go into the show instead of making its way into Mojo’s already stuffed pockets.”
Webster stated that when the MMF was informed about this they arranged a meeting “with a very nice man working in international at the PRS” who said Mojo was not allowed to deduct rebates. “I never saw him after that,” said Webster. “He disappeared the next week.”
Anthony Addis (of Brontone) said he asked for a “bible” in 2009 explaining which markets did discounts and at what rates. “Discounts or rebates – they are both the same to me as an artist manager,” he said. “Every collecting society only has to pay out to the PRS exactly what it receives. When you are talking about discounts or whatever, if the collection society receives the full amount, then that money should fall through the PRS, less its administration charge for that collection society in that country.”
John Sweeney (of SESAC, but formerly of the PRS) revealed this has a much longer history. “20 years ago, U2 tried to do a cradle-to-grave royalty account for a European tour and found that the figures didn’t quite add up,” he explained. “We looked to see what we could do to make the sums add up but we never managed to achieve it or even get close. This discount or rebate was probably always going on but not known about. To make it a bit more complicated, the collecting society agreements are blanket licensed. Even though you can see what came from the box office and what you should be paid, there are always adjustments from past performances paid.”
Martin Vierrath (of GEMA) moved to explain how the system in Germany worked, something that appeared far more complex than anyone presumed. He says there are different rates depending on the size of the venue. For mega acts (playing to 15k+), it’s a 7.65% deduction on the box office; for venues between 2k and 15k, it’s 7.2%; and for venues under 2k, it’s 5%. He then said there were moves to standardise that, which initially met with approval. When he revealed that the rate they were looking at was 10%, there were loud gasps from the audience.
Webster added that in the UK the PRS tariff is 3% but they are currently undertaking a consultation to revise it. “They haven’t said they are going to increase it but I can’t imagine they are doing to decrease it,” he said.
Crockford revealed that for Knopfler’s most recent tour in Germany he invoked clause 7G to withdraw from the PRS and collect direct from GEMA (a situation made simple by the fact that Knopfler only plays his own songs and there is no support act). “I collected direct this time,” he said. “I didn’t use GEMA. I took my artist out and we collected direct. We got it on the night and we got it all.”
Maria Forte (Maria Forte Music Services) explained how complex it can be for acts of a certain size, saying she was brought in by Iron Maiden’s management as they felt they weren’t getting what they should. They knew what they were paying out on their settlements but they were sure they were not getting enough money back but were not sure why or where. In order to make sense of it all, she got access to their accounts and she logged six years (covering three tours) of accounts (by tour, territory, show, setlist and writer). She then logged that all through the PRS statements that came in. “I discovered that there had been discounts that had been applied but that hadn’t come through. I could see there were big variances with certain territories.”
She added, “There were big territorial variances. We found there were discounts that were applied but not at the settlement point. We also found the box office amounts were under-declared and that would naturally reduce the percentage.”
This was all done so the band could get things in order ahead of their current tour this year. “There were some territories that had never paid through,” she said, naming Costa Rica as one in particular. “The money has never left the country for the last two tours. I can’t tell the band where not to play. ‘Don’t play Costa Rica!’ From a rights perspective, it’s very complicated. It’s done my head in and I’ve been doing this for 36 years.”
Webster ended by saying this was now a huge issue for the live industry and, because people are pushing to clear it up, progress is finally being made.
“This is going to run and run but we are moving in the right direction,” he said. “Everyone –managers, agents – is learning what is possible and where we are all going with this. I’d like to see us end up with a simpler system and a much more transparent system. Because of what has happened over the past three or four years, people are beginning to shine a light on this area and it will end up in everyone’s better interest.”
Anthony Addis, Brontone Ltd (UK)
Paul Crockford, Paul Crockford Management (UK)
Maria Forte, Maria Forte Music Services Ltd (UK)
Martin Vierrath, GEMA (DE)
John Sweeney, SESAC (US)
The rise of electronic dance music (EDM) in the US, the fall of SFX Entertainment and the thorny issue of government interference in dance music events dominated Friday afternoon’s The Dance Club panel, hosted by Creative Artists Agency’s (CAA) Maria May and featuring Pino Sagliocco of Live Nation Spain, the Association for Electronic Music’s Mark Lawrence and CAA’s Roman Trystram.
“A lot of people look at the EDM scene and see it as being five to seven years old, but we’re over 40 years old,” said Lawrence, speaking on rave culture’s conquering of America but referring to its roots in funk and disco. “There’ve been at least four or five booms and busts before now: the end of disco, the death of the superclubs in the 90s…”
Lawrence said he believes the implosion of SFX is a “market criticism” of its leadership rather than a collapse of the EDM market. “There was no leadership, no vision… What happened is a load of ingredients [promoters] got bought and put into a shopping basket and never baked into a bloody good cake!”
“SFX never should have happened,” agreed Trystram, “and it’s tarnished EDM—actually, as soon as we started calling it ‘EDM’, that’s when the problems set in: it’s electronic music!
“But we’ll get through it. Electronic music is the longest-running youth movement in the world.”
With press and government attention increasingly focused on injuries and deaths (especially from drug overdoses) at EDM events, talk then turned to official reactions – and overreactions – from local authorities, including the cancelling of dance music shows and festivals and Australia’s notorious lock-out laws.
“They can’t just ban events because we had an accident,” commented Sagliocco. “That’s like not flying any more because there was a plane crash.”
However, he recognised that the particularly tragic circumstances of some accidents – including one in which three teenage girls were crushed to death at a Steve Aoki gig at an over-capacity Madrid venue – often make it difficult to see them objectively.
Lawrence said governments in countries like the US and Australia have a lack of understanding of rave culture and don’t realise how well organised most EDM events are, leading to a “passive discrimination” against dance music promoters.
Violence and crime are far higher on average at rock and country festivals than at EDM ones, he added, but stories about EDM are “sexier” and sell more newspapers.
EDM is evolving, said Trystram, with more emphasis on live performance – and so is the industry: “Ten to 15 years ago you had established promoters on one side, and then all these nutcases putting on parties on the other, but it’s getting more serious. There are more professional levels of business everywhere – we don’t want a death at our concerts.”
Pino Sagliocco, Live Nation Spain
Mark Lawrence, Association for Electronic Music (US)
Sponsors want something... they don’t just want to give you their money. This was the crux of the workshop, which offered delegates the following tips on how to get brands to invest in an event:
The event obviously has to attract an audience that the brand wants to be involved with. That does not mean that it’s just about the audience at the actual event. Communication doesn’t start with the opening of doors; brands don’t spend hundreds of millions of dollars just to be the star for a few days. They want to be involved in the event’s communication for months in advance, and after the event as well. And they want to be involved in the actual event in creative ways. It’s less about branding a stage these days. Oliver-Voigt described logos on stage as “so nineties”.
Data collection is another important factor to satisfy sponsors because it offers insight into the audience: potential customers. The most important factor is knowing what the sponsor is looking for. Everybody will have a different agenda: brewers, tobacco companies, etc.
Evaluating a sponsorship package and subsequently asking for the right price is a tough job. To facilitate the process, it’s important that everybody works together: artist, promoter, venue, brand.
Bringing in a sponsor is one thing, but having them return and maybe even spend more money in the following year is what it’s really about. It’s an unhealthy stance to think: I’m taking the money now and I don’t care what happens next.
“If you’re getting into sponsorship, make sure that you can deliver what you promise to deliver”, was another tip the panel had to offer. It also recommended that you should “help brands navigate the highly complicated music business with its intricate net of rights etc.”
Addressing festivals in particular the following bullet points were offered:
- think like a brand
- integrate brands into the festival lifestyle experience
- consider level entry points
- offer data capture
- share data insights
- help with artist integration
- use third parties content curators and amplifiers to help
- encourage support of emerging artists
- evolve festivals into the mainstream marketing mix
Co-chair Wahrén started with the elephant in the room: rising artist fees, which are still an issue. Serbia’s Exit Festival has a pretty straight-forward strategy, since it doesn’t have the money to compete with other festivals, it only works with artists who want to play there, Milivojev explained.
Stuart Galbraith offered the UK perspective confirming that there had been a huge escalation in headliner fees. “You either have to cut your middle bill or lose your lower bill completely”, he said. Which was why mid-size festivals with a 10,000-20,000 attendance were on the rise. One might just end up paying less for the middle bill than for one headliner if doing such a boutique event.
Bent commented that a balance had to be found between what acts needed and the fact that cheaper tickets would attract more people, thereby helping build the artist. Attal added that he stopped chasing headliners, because one couldn’t raise the ticket prices again and again.
The fact that festivals were booking artists earlier and earlier in a highly competitive market led to agents being given deadlines by everyone, said Bent. Additionally, the growth in the American market means that it isn’t necessarily attractive for acts to tour Europe anymore. “We’ll see some thinning”, said Attal encouragingly, referring to the US festival scene.
In the face of the current refugee crisis, the discussion also moved to the immigration policies of the different countries represented on the panel. András said that Sziget was happy to distance itself from the position of the Hungarian government. The promoters generally preferred to distance themselves from politics, as politicians were opportunists that would embrace or shun a festival depending on the publicity it got them. “We’re not having that”, Milivojev added.
The tragic events that hit the European live entertainment scene last year were addressed as well. Vulcu believes that Paris will bring to the west what has been a reality in the east forever. Galbraith pointed out the dip in sales, not just in Paris, which was still only recovering, but also in London’s West End or New York’s Broadway.
“There is very little you can do, whether it’s a festival or a concert. It’s more of a societal issue rather than an organizational one”, he said.
The general stance of the entire panel was that the live sector had a duty to keep going. “It’s important that we don’t join in with the culture of fear. As an industry it is important that we are seen continuing doing what we do.”
Charles Attal, C3 Presents, (US)
Natasha Bent, United Talent Agency (UK)
András Berta, Sziget Festival (HU)
Stuart Galbraith, Kilimanjaro Live (UK)
Jim King, AEG Live (UK)
Russell Warby, WME (UK)
Tim Worton of AEG Ogden was the moderator for the latest instalment in ILMC’s annual Market Focus series, which this year focused on the buoyant live entertainment market in Australia. Worton was joined by Byron Bay Bluesfest’s Peter Noble, Frontier Touring and Chugg Entertainment founder Michael Chugg, Ticketek MD Cameron Hoy, Frontier Touring’s Michael Harrison, Ticketmaster Australia and New Zealand chairwoman Maria O’Connor and Glen Rainsbury of Etihad Stadium.
Australia has experienced close to 25 years of uninterrupted economic growth, said Harrison, and the health of the live sector reflects that, although Worton did admit that the market is “a bit soft now, but only because it’s been strong for so long.”
Why so soft? “A lot of acts are now coming in a lot more frequently,” said Harrison, leading to oversaturation in the minds of sparsely populated Australia’s 23 million people (O’Connor described the country as “seven islands divided by land”).
While the festival sector remains strong, many festivals – even those who looked to be doing well – have failed recently, said Noble, as their margins were just too small. “Costs caught up with them and so when the ticket-buying market dropped just a little bit they were dinosaurs,” he continued, adding that many were paying far too much for venues, suppliers and headliners.
“There are the same fucking headliners every year,” added Chugg, “and every year the prices went up. Some of the prices paid for headliners were ridiculous – you wouldn’t even consider it in England or America.”
Discussion then touched upon discounted tickets (“It’s terrible,” said an ever-sweary Chugg. “People are waiting for tickets to come down in price now before they buy them. It’s just fucked”), and premium-priced VIP packages (“When they were first introduced they were perceived as having a lot of value,” reckoned Harrison, “but many of them are being done quite badly now”) before moving onto presales – specifically the ever-increasing number of them.
“Are there too many now?” asked Worton. “It’s a great way of taking the temperature of the market,” said Rainsbury. “But it’s a problem if by the time you get to the general sale date you only have 10% of your inventory left…”
Noble then spoke on the importance of Bluesfest’s beachside location to its success. “There’s tropical rainforest, a beach and 12 hours of music,” he said. “It doesn’t get better than that. Although there’ve been a few too many shark attacks recently… but never when Bluesfest is on!”. Harrison added: “Australia is spoilt for choice in unique settings.”
Eventually the debate reverted, as these things often do, to a discussion of the secondary ticketing market, with the panel (and enthusiastic members of the audience) largely divided into two camps: Those who said ticket resale has been going on forever, and that people who want to sell tickets should be able to do so via a safe, trusted marketplace a la GetMeIn! or StubHub; and those who believe ticket touting is always wrong.
O’Connor compared the growth of ticket resale sites to the rise of Napster and P2P download services in the recorded music market, stating: “It’s like people downloading music 10 years ago. We can either pretend it’s not happening, or we can accept it and try to control it.”
Hoy commented that technology will eventually make it a non-issue – “You can make a ticket that just cannot be resold,” he said – while O’Connor raised the interesting point that “some of those [resale] brokers are some of your biggest customers! They’re part of the food chain.” (“I’m not sure I want that customer,” replied Harrison.)
“We clearly mark all our tickets to say, ‘Don’t buy them from anywhere else,’” added Chugg. “But they still fucking do.”
Michael Chugg, Michael Chugg Entertainment (AU)
Michael Harrison, Frontier Touring (AU)
Cameron Hoy, Ticketek (AU)
Peter Noble, Bluesfest (AU)
Maria O'Connor, Ticketmaster Australia
Glen Rainsbury, Etihad Stadium (AU)
The chairs tackled the question of how to reduce the damage festivals and live events cause for the environment. According to Badiali, it was important to “work together as suppliers, as events and venues, as touring and production companies, and also work with equipment manufacturers, researchers, engineers and policy makers, to figure out where we want to be in five years, or even in 20 years, and how we get there.”
“Understand where you are in the first place”, O’Neill added. “If you don’t understand where [and what] you’re wasting, you won’t be able to solve it. And you might waste efforts and time.”
Thus, measuring the use of energy throughout the year was very important.Julie’s Bicycle and a couple of UK festivals did some research on generator use, finding out that at many festivals generators were being used inefficiently. That way, a festival might find out that it could do with far less generators or far smaller ones, thereby saving money.
Festivals that offer event-goers a unique experience, that engage with the audience, have far less problems with the people trashing the place. Roskilde’s Clean Out Loud initiative served as an example to highlight this: attendees need to apply to enter the campsite, thereby vouching to keep the space clean.
O’Neill is also working with Arcadia Spectacular. The spider-like structure that has become a staple at Glastonbury Festival, is exemplary in many ways: how to build a unique structure from literal trash and how to reduce the carbon footprint of effects, proving that the production did not have to be boring just because it is environmentally friendly.
Other initiatives highlighted were deposits for waste bag, as well as incentivising festival attendees to collect and return their trash at the end of the event. Refillable water bottles and banning the sale of plastic bottles on site were other examples of keeping the site clean.
According to O’Neill, the audience causes a huge carbon footprint but wasn’t directly under the festival’s control. You either incentivise people or you punish them. “The latter would be achieved through high parking prices for example, the former through car-pooling initiatives.
Partnerships with train companies and free public transport included in the festival ticket, for example, helped as well.”
The final panel of Friday considered how the sprawling mass of data being generated by sources like Spotify and YouTube can be used by the live business to better understand consumers, as well as find ways to open commercial opportunities.
In a brief presentation, Chris Cooke of CMU outlined the state of the recorded music market and noted that streaming will become the main revenue source for labels in the next 18 months. This is brimming with potential for the live sector and an opportunity to think about how and where this data can help their businesses. He also pointed out that most of the streaming services are losing money and will be looking for ancillary ways to make money, and ticketing is the obvious next step (as illustrated by Pandora’s recent acquisition of Ticketfly).
As it stands, labels and managers are getting most access to streaming data and agents and promoters need to be more closely involved in these discussions if they are to really see the upside.
A running theme was how different audience demographics discover music in different ways. Some see discovering new artists (via recordings and gigs) as a badge of honour while others don’t. “For some, discovery is a turn on,” said Cooke. “For the mainstream audience, they want passive discovery. Radio is the classic passive discovery medium.”
Roman Trystram (of CAA) suggested something of a sea change is impacting on the industry where everyone is having to work together more and use that to collectively work smarter. “Where I am seeing the most growth is artist, manager and promoters working together to make the tour stand out,” he said. “You can’t just announce a show like you used to do. Gone are the days when you book it and hope it does what it does.”
Olly Hoppe (Wizard Promotions) offered perhaps the most interesting case study of the session, explaining how eighties German hard-rock band Böhse Onkelz were able to bring their audience online for the first time and use that to predict how big demand would be for their reunion shows.
“We needed to establish what relevance the band still had with the target audience,” he said. They used teaser outdoor posters to get fans to register on the band’s site but still had not confirmed they were even playing shows. Some 550,000 people had registered before any news of concerts was made. “So we were quite confident about putting a show on sale!” On the day before the concert announcement was made they put up fake posters saying there was going to be different things like a karaoke night and a live DVD to put people off the scent and in doing so created a lot of buzz.
They then capitalsied on that traction by announcing the shows and sold 200,000 tickets in an hour. “We were able to convert a very analogue audience to start a conversation and get things to base our calculations [for audience demand for tickets] on,” he explained.
Richard Moffat (Way Over There, Australia) was sitting in the audience but explained how he used Spotify playlists to drive demand for festivals. “For the first time you have an easy way to tell your customers exactly what you are giving them,” he said of how playlists can make it clear to the audience what the festival will be like. He also gets fans to suggest fantasy line-ups for the festival, and rewards them with merchandise or tickets when they hit certain follower numbers.
“That didn’t exist five years ago and they’d just be filling in questionnaires. The only people who do questionnaires are the sort of people who fill in questionnaires,” he said. “They don’t tell you much about the real people who go to your shows.”
Jo Young (Live Nation), who chaired the session, ended on a note of reservation by explaining how the promoter is often the last to get streaming data. Instead they have to rely on the ticket data as their main data source instead. “We also look at the distance people travel, just to see how super the super-fans are,” she said.
Slowly the industry is starting to understand the mutual benefits of sharing data as streaming can boost demand for a tour and then that tour can later drive fans back to streaming their favourite acts’ music. For now, however, it feels that only tentative steps are being made here and that data’s full potential is still some way from being realised.
Chris Cooke, CMU (UK)
Sam Lee, Deezer (UK)
Olly Hoppe, Wizard Promotions (DE)
Chloe Julien, Bandsquare (US)
Roman Trystram, CAA (UK)