How To Boost Ticket Sales Post COVID With Eventbrite’s John Riccardi

Scene from the ‘Popscene’ indie party at San Francisco’s ‘Rickshaw Stop’. Independent artists in particular will be looking for new audiences to sell tickets to.

John Riccardi is senior manager of music strategy at Eventbrite. He’s been a promoter for much of his career, going all the way back to university. He has realized multiple festivals independently, but has also worked for the majors, including Live Nation and AEG. By the time he joined Eventbrite five-and-a-half years ago, Riccardi had amassed a lot of ticketing experience, but he remains a promoter at heart. “I know what it means to put my own money in play. And lose it sometimes,” he said, when Pollstar reached out via Zoom to talk about Boost, Eventbrite’s new marketing tool for anyone looking to sell tickets to new audiences.

John Riccardi, senior manager of music strategy at Eventbrite.

The tool automates the process of placing ads for events on Facebook and Instagram, and of launching email campaigns, which are still among the most popular methods to promote content, especially for independent venues, promoters, and artists,” Riccardi said.

Having those tools integrated into Eventbrite means that artists, promoters, venues – whoever sells tickets – don’t have to use each individual platform’s own ad manager, which can become quite complicated, particularly when running multiple campaigns at once. The basic premise remains the same: reaching new fans based on their similarities with already existing fans in terms of interests and purchasing habits.

The real benefit is the time saved. Once a new customer buys a ticket, they don’t need to be advertized to anymore. They’ve become part of the existing fanbase, which is scanned by the Boost algorithm to find what Riccardi described as “additional look alike possibilities” – people the ticket seller doesn’t yet have a relationship with.

Updating campaigns is one of the most time consuming tasks of any marketing department. “Boosts will do that for you automatically. It’s not just creating these ad campaigns, what it’s really doing is optimizing them so you’re constantly reaching the most relevant people for the duration of your campaign,” Riccardi explained, adding, “if you have multiple events, you don’t have to create a separate campaign for each individual event. You can create one campaign for all of your events at the same time. As events take place and go off of your calendar, and new events come on, Boost will automatically integrate them, and instead of individual campaigns, it’ll just be one campaign for you to manage.”

By constantly updating its database according to people who are buying tickets vs. people who are not buying tickets, the algorithm gets smarter as the campaign runs. In the end, only genuinely interested people should be targeted by an ad, ensuring a good return on the ad spend.

While Boost can be used by any individual or company, irrespective of size, it’s particularly interesting for independents artists and companies with small teams or no team at all. “If you’re a touring musician, if you’re a small venue, you don’t have all day to go in and manipulate all these different ads. The original Eventbrite intention has always been to help the little guy, to help independent people, because we need independent art. And we need independent musicians and venues because these are the spaces where culture is created. These are the people who are creating what’s going to be important tomorrow. How do we make it easy for them so they can focus on what’s important?,” said Riccardi.

According to Eventbrite’s own data, users of Boost sell 16% more tickets than users of just Eventbrite. That’s across all event genres. When looking at music events only, the number goes up to 28% more sales on average. Pollstar wasn’t given any more detail around those numbers apart from the fact that last year 662.000 event creators (across all event genres) used Eventbrite.

Coming out of the pandemic, everybody is looking for ways to make up for lost revenue. If feels like every artist out there is getting ready to tour again, which makes it even more important to market to an audience that only has so much money and time to spend on events. What is more, according to Riccardi, “building avails are very crowded and cluttered. Some of the artists we talked to are having a hard time booking their tours. They want to go out and play for three months this summer, but the network of dates that they can play is spotty. Promoters, venues, artists, who probably don’t have a lot of money after not making any for two years, can use something that’s cheap and affordable and will help them reach a bigger audience.”

Boost imagery 2
Eventbrite Boost. Illustration.

The basic tier of Boost is available for free. It includes the ability to send out 2,000 emails per day, and to publish on and sell right out of Facebook (but no automated ads). The starter tier costs $15 per month and adds Instagram growth ads to the mix. Users of this tier can also run multi-event ads and send up to 6,000 emails per day. Once a certain momentum is reached, users can opt for the Plus tier, which costs $50 per month. It includes all of the above, and adds the “automated Facebook and Instagram ads” feature as well as “smart audience targeting.”

According to Riccardi, Boost continues the spirit in which Eventbrite was founded in 2006, when small and less established venues had trouble getting ticketing contracts. The company wanted to give anyone with an event, a location and an audience to ability to sell tickets. “You should be able to play whether it’s in your bedroom o living room, some new warehouse or a coffee shop that’s just opened up. You should be able to play and you should be able to ticket it. The technology is there and we’re giving you the technology,” Riccardi concluded.

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