A Ticket Scalping Benefit for Bands

 

Country-singer Kacey Musgraves was preparing for a sold-out show at the 1,800 seat Van Buren in Phoenix on February 13th, 2019 when she took home four trophies including Album of the Year at the 61st Grammy Awards on February 10th. Phoenix fans were lucky to find out that her management had already placed a second show on sale at the 5,000 capacity Comerica Theater in August.

 

I was certain that Musgraves new mass-market status was going to push demand, and consequently the price of tickets up. It appeared that I was not the only one.  The show sold great out of the gate and within weeks very few primary tickets were left. Fans were forced to purchase from the resale market. As usual, these prices were higher than the ticket’s face value – at least up until showtime.

 

Between 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm on show day a flood of tickets went on sale. Many at half the face value. Tickets are sometimes released closer to show time, but usually, these are from the act’s camp and sold on the primary market. Instead, these below-face value tickets were found on the resale markets. This got me thinking about the ticket brokering game, how it impacts the concert ecosystem, and if there is an added benefit to the practice.

 

Most of the press surrounding ticket scalpers or brokers is negative and rightfully so. They buy blocks of tickets at face value then jack up the prices. This results in less opportunity for true fans to enjoy their favorite artist. However, at its core, ticket brokering is pretty much the same as trading stocks. You buy a piece of a company at a reasonable price in hopes that their valuation will rise so you can sell the stock and earn money for your prediction. The same is true in ticket scalping. Individuals or companies buy up blocks of tickets based on the assumption that demand for a particular artist will increase. These entities then raise the price and make a profit on their analysis.

 

But what happens when these predictions are off and the broker is stuck with a block of tickets they can’t sell at face value? In the stock market, that individual can just hold onto the stock in hopes of a better-priced future. However, in the world of rock-and-roll concerts are time-sensitive. The ticket scalper’s opportunity to recoup his or her investment is gone forever once the lights hit. The only course of action is to sell at a loss and hope they make some of their money back.

 

This can be a HUGE benefit for the artist. In most scalping instances tickets are purchased at the agreed-upon ticket scaling rate between the venue, promoter, and artist’s management team. Yes, brokers buy up blocks of tickets, but they are typically doing so at face value, so the artist receives some benefit.  For one, they are more likely to have a sold-out show and for a band building their brand on the road. Sold-out shows help them appeal to promoters and talent buyers that represent larger spaces and better opportunities. As I mentioned in a previous post, buyers and promoters are constantly assessing the risk involved in booking an act and sold-out sales metrics help alleviate that concern. Second, and perhaps more important. The band and their team earn a larger paycheck. This helps them stay on the road.  Pay the crew, put on better concerts, market new events, and release new music.

 

I am not condoning ticket scalping. Especially in a day and age where bots can exasperate the process and cut off true fans within seconds. Just remember, scalping has been a part of the concert industry for decades. We all hate paying more than the face value of the ticket we receive. However, there are plenty of times where savvy fans get into shows at exceptional rates without impacting the Artist’s bottom line. There is some benefit to that.

 

 

 

Promoter and Buyers Explained

 

I am a talent buyer in the casino industry.  Yet, some people tend to call me a promoter and while both share similar responsibilities. There are some differences between the two as well as one very important concept both share.  Watch the video to learn more about talent buyers and promoters from entertainment consultant Jeremy Larochelle.

 

 

 

Take the Picture for Better Fan Engagement

 

It is a misconception that a concert is all about the artist on stage. While they are a key component to the success of the venue, they are not as important as the customer. The customer is the person who buys the ticket… the food… the drinks… the merchandise…the VIP packages… and whom the sponsors want to get in front of. Without them, the venue wouldn’t exist and the artist would be out of a gig.

 

Fortunately, appeasing your customers can be rather simple. Give them a great concert experience and they will stay longer, spend more, and hopefully return to see you again. One of the ways to enhance their experience is to make it about them. You can do this a number of ways. Treat them right and with kindness at every step of the way. Surprise them with upgrades and constantly thank them for their business.

 

Another way both venues and entertainers can make the experience about the customer is by taking a picture.

 

During your next performance, announce to the crowd that you want to get a group picture with everyone. Then, grab a selfie with the crowd behind you. The goal is to get as many of your fans in the frame as possible. After that, announce that you will upload the shot to your Instagram feed and encourage them to check it out and tag their concert-going buddies and friends who missed the show.

 

This simple action will enact a number of psychological triggers on your audience. They will feel a sense of belonging, community, and pride. The posts will likely start social engagement with people who also attended the show, further solidifying their pack bond. All positive stimuli that will likely lead to positive actions such as return trips to your next performance. However, the psychological triggers don’t stop there.

 

When your fans share this image on their social feeds psychological triggers such as Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) kick in for their friends who didn’t attend the show.  If anyone watched the FYRE Festival documentaries, this negative trigger contributed to the social-success of that epic festival failure. Those who missed out are given an unintended edited view of what the show was really like. They do not see the long lines to use the restroom. The parking fiasco. That $20 beer. Rather, they see pictures of their friends having a great time followed by likes and comments that reinforce those stimuli.

 

This strategy works for venue ownership as well. Encouraging fans to share their concert pictures by tagging your brand or through a unique hashtag so your marketing team can re-post offers a huge return with little spend. Not only do these pictures give your brand a positive stimuli response and induce FOMO behavior, but they also act like customer reviews providing a decision reinforcement vehicle for people looking to purchase a ticket to your next show.

 

If you run a concert venue, your fans are your biggest asset. Without them, nothing would be possible. Part of your core strategy should be to find economical ways to WOW them at every turn. While the concept of simply taking a picture seems like a no-brainer, many do not take advantage of this opportunity to connect. I hope this post provides social and psychological evidence as to why you should snap a selfie with the crowd.

 

 

 

 

The Derivative Benefit of Record Studios Past

 

 

As I watched the 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of fame Induction Ceremony on HBO, I couldn’t help but admire how tight many of the bands inducted were despite their long absences from the stage. Most notably were The Cars. Whom had not performed together since 2011. The group burned through some of their most iconic hits including Moving In Stereo, Just What I Needed, and My Best Friend’s Girl nailing the tiny progressions, hooks, harmonies, and changes in each that are forever etched in our minds.

 

And it got me thinking.

 

Thinking about how our foray into the modern “home studio” has killed a very important derivative benefit that blest many bands such as The Cars, Lauryn Hill, The Moody Blues, and Bon Jovi during their upbringing in the “offline” world of music consumption. The benefit of being forced to craft a song into a hit by playing through its pieces over and over again.

 

We all know the primary responsibility of the recording studio – to record. However, pre-Pro Tools. The studio was a place where you and your bandmates went to develop your songs with the help of a producer. Unlike today, where you can kind of get the right notes down and then let the engineers copy, paste, and autotune them into perfection. The studio of yesterday required you to play your parts over and over again until you got the perfect take. Sure, there were crutches, but they were costly and generally took more time than the musician just working his or her instrument until they got it right.

 

This process surely helped make great hits – just ask The Cars. However, it also forced the musicians to commit these hooks, riffs, rhythms, and notes to their subconscious must like Danielson did under Mr. Miyagi’s tutelage with his “wax-on/ wax-off technique.” Then, when the recording was done. These bands hit the road for 200 plus dates a year playing those same riffs over and over, further committing them to a part of the brain that few people will ever tap into.

 

The end result is seventy plus year-old rockers who can still hit the stage after nearly a decade of not playing together and give me Just What I Needed – a collection of iconic tunes that sound just like I first heard them in a Pontiac Trans Am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respect the Pre-Gig Window

 

 

Musicians and entertainers are a unique breed of individuals… an enigma if you will? Many times, that outgoing personality we see on-stage is not the same person behind it. In fact, from my experience, I find that most entertainers are more introverted than extroverted. They are reserved and highly emotional individuals partly because the product they present is based on emotional attachment.

 

This is why it is imperative that managers, stagehands, venue representatives, marketing personnel, etc. respect the pre-performance time of the artist. I am speaking about the hour directly before they hit the stage. During this time, that introvert is preparing to “come out of their shell,” and for your venue to succeed. You want them to complete that transition. Over the years, I have seen personnel mismanage acts large and small at this point because they do not understand this aspect of the entertainer psyche. I have watched security give them hard times as they approached the stage about their credentials (even with me leading them). Managers argue with musicians about bar tabs before they hit the lights and tech’s fight with DJs about their set-up minutes before showtime.  In all of these situations, the show suffered. Why? Because, in each instance, these events did not allow the artist to get out of their introverted state – a state you do NOT want them to be in when they are entertaining your audience.

 

I understand that any event is made up of numerous personnel with various personalities, job demands, and views of their position within the concert eco-system.  Regardless, in the end. The show is ALL about appeasing the audience and the person they are most connected to at that point is the entertainer. They are the direct link between your success and the audience and for the next forty, sixty, or ninety plus minutes the most important person on the property.  Here are some pieces of advice to help you set them (and your venue) up for success.

 

Give them their space. Make sure the act has a spot where they can “get away” if they need to. It doesn’t need to be a green room. A small corner of the lounge or section of the patio will work. Many times, you will see artists “hide-out” behind the stage.  This is usually a sign to leave them alone.

 

Hold off on your reprimands. Was the artist late? Did they not dress properly? Did they load-in through the wrong door? Did their last show bomb?  NOW is NOT the time to address this with them. You will have plenty of time to discuss these items later on. If you want a great show, you can’t send them on stage worried or thinking about how they already failed. Give them feedback after the show, or better yet. The next day.

 

Make them feel tech-secured. Make sure your technicians touch base with the artist and ask them if they have any questions, comments, or concerns about a 1/2 hour before showtime. Then, actively listen to their demands. NOW is NOT the time to fight with them about mic placement or to start a rift regarding in-ear monitors. Rather, NOW is the time to make them feel like you have their back for the next 45-plus minutes.

 

Treat them like rock stars. Even if you hate their music or dislike the entertainer as a person because he stole your girlfriend. Smile and tell them to have a great show as they head towards the stage. If you have a history of their performance. Tell them about something they did at the last show that you thoroughly enjoyed. Just don’t tell them your mom or grandma likes their music and don’t oversell your enthusiasm.

 

Remember the Berklee Recording Rule. While studying briefly at Berklee College of Music, I spent many hours in recording sessions with my roommate who was in the final year of the program. I heard variations of the following phrase.

“It is your job to support the artist and stay out of their way.” 

I learned that this meant that you supported the artist’s physical and mental space above all else. You rolled with every punch.  You didn’t force the drummer to move his snare for better mic placement. You worked around it. If the pianist runs all of his keys through the same amp, you find a way to work within his set-up and don’t force him to change it. If the singer feels comfortable in the dark with candles – you shut the lights off, even if you can’t see a damn thing.

 

What Berklee’s recording and engineering lesson teaches us is that ultimately, your goal is to send an artist on stage feeling confident, respected, and in-demand. This will help pull them out of their introverted headspace, let their artistry shine, and focus on connecting with their fans. The end result is a better show with a greater opportunity for success.