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Data Driven Touring & Tour Marketing

Moderator” Bruce Houghton | Skyline Artists Agency
Blair Martin | Pandora
Jon Romero | Vector Management
Shane Tobin | Spotify
Zeeshan Zaidi | Ticketmaster

Picking up where they left off a year ago at Pollstar Live!, a panel of managers, digital service providers, ticketing and technology experts explored the current possibilities of leveraging data and technology to book concerts and tours more successfully.

Pandora’s Blair Martin and Spotify’s Shane Tobin kicked things off by going into a few of their respective offerings that can help artists promote their shows. Pandora has spent the last year integrating Ticketfly and re-launched its artist marketing platform, which includes both featured tracks and artist audio messages, which can be geo-targeted to make sure they only reach people in a certain catchment area.

Spotify has spent the last year building a dashboard giving artists insights into their audiences as well as representing concerts more prominently, partly through partnerships with Songkick and Ticketmaster, to inform listeners about gigs in their area. Spotify also sends out a weekly email recommending shows based on what the recipients are listening to.

Listener data is the bread and butter for these services. Liking, skipping and fast-forwarding songs all indicate the relationship between artists and listeners, which enables the artists and their team to provide the right content.

“It’s the first time we actually know what fans are doing. It helps artists and managers find qualified leads,” said manager Jon Romero, who feels both Spotify and Pandora give him “amazing data.”

Ticketmaster offers real-time reporting on sales, geographic and demographic information for managers and agents to see how their on-sales are doing. Another product is called verified fan. “One of the problems that still needs to be solved is artists getting tickets in the hands of fans at the price they want,” Zeeshan Zaidi, the SVP/general manager of Ticketmaster’s concert and touring division OnTour, said.

This will come in handy for artists that want to sell a ticket for less, even if they could charge more, to further build a good relationship with their fans. Ticketmaster, like Songkick, has ways of finding out who the biggest fans are. These fans can be contacted with special offers, exclusive pre-sales etc.

Romero was glad that most of the digital services employed artist service teams. “That just shows the industry is looking to really leverage the data in a fruitful way, and not just keep it for themselves to make more advertising dollars. They’re trying to open the pie a little bit more.”

Martin added that this had to do with the fact that “we all want a packed show at a fair price with real fans in the venues.”
According to moderator Bruce Houghton, this marked a paradigm shift. “The old industry didn’t realize that it had always been about the relationship between the artist and the fan.”

Added Romero: “It’s not always just about selling another ticket or album. It’s also about visibility.” Ticketmaster, for example, enables fans to buy tickets wherever they’re at be it Facebook or BandsInTown. This is done through a proper integration, not just a link to Ticket-master’s sites. As partners, these third-party platforms have an interest in spreading the word and encouraging sales, thereby increasing overall visibility.

“Gone are the days of strip ads. Now we can get right to the fan base,” Romero summed it up.

“As a promoter you can see how many fans a band has in 50 miles of Virginia, how many fans does this band that sounds like this band have within 50 miles of Virgina, how man heavy metal fans does that include,” Houghton added.

“We can slice and dice the data in a lot of different ways,” Martin explained. And the more personalized the offerings can therefore become, the bigger the ROI, generally speaking.

Martin also explained why most of the promotional tools for artists on Pandora or Spotify are for free: “They don’t pay for Twitter to communicate with their fans, why should they pay for these services?”

Of course, digital services also benefit from giving artists a free hand when it comes to engaging with their fans, because it will in turn draw listeners, or to put it in Tobin’s words: “If we’re a better partner in all aspects, helping connect with
fans, it also makes the service live longer.”

– Gideon Gottfried