A panel of promoters, agents, managers and representatives of some of the most used digital services shared some insight into how the myriad of listener data can be used to book tours and sell tickets. 

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Data Driven Touring

Host Bruce Houghton (Skyline Music Agency) welcomed Adam Foley (Red Light Management), David King (YouTube For Artists), Rich Palmese (Ticketmaster), Shamal Ranasinghe (Pandora), Allen Scott (Another Planet Entertainment) and Shane Tobin (Spotify) on the panel.

The data Spotify is sharing with artist, managers and promoters includes demographic and geo-targeted information. “We also break it down by casual listeners vs. super-active listeners,” Tobin explained. Since many Spotify users pay for an ad-free service, “we cannot just throw ads at our users. We’re writing emails to the most passionate fans, which drives ticket sales.”

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YouTube has a massive footprint of user-generated content. Its content ID system can identify any video containing an artist’s music, which in turn offers insights into the viral activity surrounding it.

“We added a location view, so promoters can see what happens in their city,” said King. YouTube’s ad network takes users’ watch history into account, which is why tours can be advertised in a targeted way. “Beyond those placements we find that lot’s of artists put out videos saying they’re going on tour, which then ends up in their fans subscription feeds.”

Pandora’s radio service is powered by a massive data set, the music genome project. Each song on the service is analyzed by more than 400 attributes, which allows for a highly personalized listening experience. Artists can log into Pandora’s artist marketing platform (AMP) to get insights into much of the same data the other services collect. Artists can create audio messages and send them directly to their fans to make them aware of upcoming shows, “the most powerful way to promote events,” according to Ranasinghe.

“People don’t consider artist messages to be ads.” Ticketmaster’s data pool comprises more than 450 million ticket transactions and data of over 100 million registered users. The company has a couple of tools designed to help artists, managers and promoters gain key insights that help them market to their audience. Ticketmaster One, for example, compiles sales trends, how many tickets were sold at each point in a tour’s life cycle, shows the demographics of ticket buyers and breaks down purchases.

According to Palmese, this helps promoters to make educated decisions. Foley provided a real-world example in the form of Odesza, one of the artists he manages. Foley basically uses everything that the rest of the panel provides: geo-targeted audio ads spoken by the band members, pointing out where they’re going to play, while Ticketmaster provided real-time information of how a show was trending.

“Odesza had their presale, Pandora had their presale, the promoter had their presale. It allows us to sell tickets faster,” the manager said. When he saw that the tour was selling out everywhere except for one particular market, “we changed some of the metrics of the ads serviced on Pandora and boom: it started to sell.”

Scott offered the promoter’s view: “We’re looking into how to reach as many people as possible. [Thanks to] all of the guys up here, [the targeting] is getting much more precise, in terms of who’s being messaged.” This also saves a lot of marketing money that could then be shared with the artist, Houghton added.

While all of the services – Facebook wasn’t represented on the panel – are already looking into a lot of data, there’s still room for improvement in terms of how that data can be used specifically to sell tickets. While no one went into specifics, Houghton said that a lot was to be expected in the coming two years.

One example of where things could be headed could be seen at one of Spotify’s hack days: an automatic tour router. “We take a look at the dates you’ve already booked and the listening habits of your fanbase, to find cities you may not be hitting but have an extremely passionate fanbase in,” said Tobin.