How Will AI Change Live for Booking, Marketing, Operations & Risk Management (Pollstar Live! Panel Recap)

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Megan K. Smith, O’Melveny & Myers LLP


Brian Ahern, WME
Mike Mauer, SaveLive / Sparrow
Jason Thomas, Tappit
Ed Ulbrich, Metaphysic

The rise of artificial intelligence has been so rapid — its ubiquity in the consciousness of society at-large came with frightening suddenness — that all of its dangers and pitfalls and benefits have been conflate. It’s important to remember AI means a lot of different things, all with different drawbacks and rewards.

“What we were seeing during the (writers and actors) strikes was a conflation of all facets of AI into this one AI borg that’s coming to get us all,” Ed Ulbrich of Metaphysic AI said. “So a lot of what we have to do is educate about what we do and how we make the content and there’s a lot fear.”

But the fact is, as he said “the genie is out of the bottle” and artists and their teams (and venues and theirs and promoters and theirs) have come up with a plan for how to both harness the power and protect themselves from the dangers.

“Youv’e got to start with a strategy,” Tappit’s Jason Thomas said. “You have to use the data to your advantage to get an edge. … Organizations just have very little information about their customer base. Festivals and venues only know the names of 25 percent of their customers.”

And that sort of analysis is something AI handles very well. WME’s Brain Ahern said agents have been trying to secure the data promoters and venues have about ticketbuyers “ever since I was an assistant coming out of the mail room.”

“Having access to data would mean selling to fans in a more efficient manner. We can sell more tickets and merch in the long run. but there are a lot of gatekeepers of the data preventing us from doing what we need to do,” he said.

While listening behavior and ticket buying behavior is a good indicator of future propensity to buy tickets — indeed those were the only data points anyone had for years — Mike Mauer of Save Live/Sparrow said those tried and true data points just scratch the surface

“AI is really good at discovering trends and doimng analysis in places we didn’t know existed. In concert promotion space, there’s 200 markers indicating if someone is highly likely to be a ticket buyer. We can discover correlations we haven’t seen before,” he said, causing every agent in the room’s ears to perk up.

So that’s the good news.

The bad news is the U.S. hasn’t really figured out the protection component. Can someone copyright their AI-generated likeness or their own biometric information? It’s a still-to-be-litigated question and while we wait for the court cases, the administrative hearings and the legislation — “we are light-years behind China and the EU,” Megan K. Smith said — artist teams have to be vigilant, not just for misuses of a likeness, but of their voice.

And the time to do it is…well, probably yesterday, but now is good, too.

“This industry has always suffered from short-termism and lack of future proofing,” Thomas said. “You’re either gonna embrace AI as an opportunity or you’re going to be in trouble.”