Rethink Marketing: Mustard Media’s Rob Masterson On Selling Tickets In Uncertain Times

The main stage at Strawberries & Creem Festival 2021.
Joseph Okpako/WireImage
– The main stage at Strawberries & Creem Festival 2021.
The event in Cambridge, England is one of Mustard Media’s clients.

Mustard Media from Manchester, England are marketing specialists with a “promoter’s mindset,” according to co-founder Rob Masterson. As such the company helped clients sell £35 million ($47 million) worth of tickets over the 12 months leading up to August 2021. Pollstar checked in with Masterson to learn know more.

The revenues were generated through the sale of more than 620,000 tickets, sold across 17 live music events, and 17 food and beverage, family, and Christmas events, as Masterson told Pollstar. Clients included Parklife, Strawberries and Creem, The Warehouse Project, Homobloc, One Out Festival, Mint Festival, Labyrinth, Naked City, British Country Music Festival, Hidden Nightclub, Manchester Pride, and more.
One of the biggest family events in terms of ticket sales was Dino Kingdom, an outdoor family adventure trail, which sold over 150,000 tickets across multiple locations. 
Aside from restrictions on social gatherings, coronavirus also affected customer confidence, resulting in slower ticket sales, at least in some segments. As Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the UK Music Managers Forum pointed out when speaking to Pollstar recently, “those with older audiences are finding it really difficult to shift tickets for mid-level shows.”
Mustard Media's founders.
– Mustard Media’s founders.
From left: Rob Masterson, Ed Norris, Oli Hackett.

All of the above needs to be factored in when marketing events, Masterson said, the 20-strong team at Mustard Media had to “hugely” rethink its approach. “Judging when to put tickets on sale has been a big part of selling tickets in the last 18 months. Consumer confidence and media sentiment regarding the pandemic massively affected overall ticket sales. Picking the moments when customer confidence is high to go out such as when the government announced it’s roadmap including when festivals would re-open was crucial to selling tickets last year. 

“In addition it’s been crucial to bookings to make sure that flexible and fair cancellation policies alongside any COVID arrangements have been front and centre when driving ticket sales,” he explained.
With this approach Masterson expects to help clients sell 1.2 million tickets in the next 12 months, with 50 events and festivals, covering three continents and 13 countries scheduled to go ahead.
The founders of Mustard Media also own an events arm, which organises AMP Lost and Found Festival (pictured), among others.
– The founders of Mustard Media also own an events arm, which organises AMP Lost and Found Festival (pictured), among others.
“We have looked to build a promoter’s mindset into Mustard Media’s approach,” said Masterson.

Aside from the clients already mentioned, Mustard Media works with Elrow, Afro Nation (Portugal, Ghana & Puerto Rico), Camp Bestival (UK), as well as Portuguese events BPM Festival, Rolling Loud and EDC. The company also co-founded Annie Mac Presents: Lost and Found Festival in Malta.

Mustard Media tried to keep the business going by launching free webinars in April, which brought together experts and thought leaders. Dubbed “Business Keeps on Dancing”, speakers included reps of Facebook, Parklife Festival, and entertainment brand Bongo’s Bingo, who shared their insights with some 4,000 event owners around the world.
“Despite the challenges this year, it’s been a busy one for us, and one that we’re really proud of,” said Masterson, who concluded, ‘We’re confident that next Summer will be even bigger, we’ve already seen huge successes with the events we’ve been working on this year and we’re excited about what 2022 has in store.”
About Mustard Media:
The company was founded by friends Rob Masterson, Ed Norris and Oli Hackett, who met while studying at university in Manchester. 
In 2008, they started a club night – Drop the Mustard – where they made a name for themselves hosting regular events across the city. After the success of these events and festivals, promoters from around the world started to ask for help, and Mustard Media was born in 2013.
Over the last eight years, they have provided marketing solutions to festivals and events spanning 18 countries as far away as Australia, working alongside tourism boards, award winning festivals, premier league sports clubs, and large-scale family events.