Digital Disruption

It’s daunting to keep up with the world of analytics and social media when you’re busy with the more traditional nuts and bolts of putting on a show – like, uhh, finding animal blood for some heavy metal theatrics.

Good thing there are others to handle it.

“There’s so much to keep up with out there. It’s not easy,” said Jamie Loeb, VP of marketing for Nederlander. “To do that myself, for the Nederlander marketing team to do it ourselves, holy shit, it’s not going to happen.”

Put simply, “it” is advanced, targeted marketing. What used to be paper fliers, radio spots and the occasional exorbitantly priced TV ad is now not so easily defined but increasingly social.

“There are two statistics that irritate the shit out of me,” Loeb said. “First, that 50 percent of people don’t go to a show because they didn’t know about it.” Most of the rest heard about it by word of mouth. “Yes, but where exactly did you hear about it? ‘Ohh, I don’t know. …’ they say.

Photo: Barry Brecheisen

“This [targeted social marketing] is bringing that number down and helping us find out exactly where and how fans are hearing about shows.”

In fact, according to the panelists, you’re wasting your time and money by starting with anything besides digital.

But that’s old news. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are the no-brainers, especially when used to their potential. It gets much more complicated and “we’re just starting to scratch the surface,” according to Mike “Goon” McGinley.

Platforms like McGinley’s CitizenNet harvest data from fans’ social media profiles – data that can help sell tickets.

“If you don’t have tools like these in the future, you’re going to have a real hard time competing,” McGinley said.

A lot is there for the taking just by digging in, according to Facebook’s Ashley Bradbury.

“It’s a matter of using Facebook smartly,” she said in response to complaints that Facebook event pages sometimes don’t reach every single intended target.

She says money is being left on the table by not using Facebook effectively, such as using tools to directly target fans who have previously purchased tickets by a particular artist. She also mentioned Facebook’s Preferred Marketing Developer program (PMD), which can create a marketing strategy specifically for an event, artist, venue, or anything.

Goldenvoice’s Leo Nitzberg sees a future with individual fans having a direct impact on shows, and promoters and venues being able to contact fans individually during a concert.

“I can see direct messaging a fan that, ‘Hey, that beer line is getting long and you could save 15 minutes by going to the line around the corner. Also the beer is 15 percent off if you go right now,'” he said.

If it all sounds so complicated and exhausting, it’s important to “Simply do stuff,” said LoveLive’s Richard Cohen, who creates custom content including video.

“There’s not a silver bullet where one approach will work for everything every time.”

The panelists do understand that there is a balancing act and that eyes glaze over when talking about advanced analytics.

Songkick’s Ian Hogarth said he was talking tech to someone from the popular Underworld Camden metal club, who then seemed distracted. It turns out he was preoccupied with something a little more raw than app integration.

“So this guy has got to somehow juggle figuring out how to use the web more effectively to drive ticket sales while sourcing animal blood for a show,” Hogarth said. “You have to be sympathetic to them.”

But it’s a matter of being left behind, too. Technology doesn’t go backward.

“You guys in the audience are the smartest people in the building just by attending this panel,” said moderator Vince Bannon of Getty Images. “All those people outside are going to be bankrupt and out of business in 10 years.”

And, when in doubt, McGinley says, just hire a kid who already knows what’s going on. “If they’re 25, they’re too old,” he said, laughing.