Mass Behavior and Social Cues in Live Concert Venues

 

 

Formal Theories of Mass Behavior teaches us that when faced with a decision, the consumer will pull from external stimuli to test their initial hypothesis of what they anticipate the outcome to be. For instance, if you think a glass will break when you drop it. You can let it fall to the ground and see what happens. Then, classify this information for future situations regarding the fragile nature of glass products.

 

The problem arises when the consumer cannot test their initial hypothesis directly and efficiently. In a very timely example, it is cost and time prohibitive for the average voter to determine if candidate “A” will do well for them when in office. To truly gauge the outcome, the voter would need to dive deep into the candidate’s past behavior and history addressing various political issues through historical analysis, observing the party in action, and/or speaking with them directly. All items that require a great deal of decision investment to accomplish.

 

To counteract this problem, the consumer takes part in a social engagement where they ask someone – preferably someone they deem has knowledge of whom will be the best candidate and then they weigh those opinions against their initial hypothesis. If these judgments fall into alignment, the consumer’s decision is re-affirmed and they move forward with their initial opinion. This information is then retained in their decision-psyche to be pulled from in similar future situations. Just like our glass-breaking test.

 

However, if the external stimuli disagree with the consumer’s initial hypothesis. They will likely seek out additional opinions to “break the tie.” This back and forth can follow multiple cycles until the consumer makes a final judgement to abandon their initial decision or stick to their guns.

 

So, what in the heck does this have to do with live entertainment? In a previous post, I discussed a phenomenon I call the “adoption point.” This is when the crowd grows to a comfortable size, which reaffirms the prospect’s decision to “join the pack.” It is rooted in our primal instincts, which happen to form the foundation analyzed by McPhee’s Formal Theories text. A time when the young wolf analyzes what he thinks will happen to him if he goes it alone versus joining the rest of his howling buddies. The larger the pack… the more he feels secure in their collective decision to stick together.

 

This is something I see on a regular basis in the concert world.  One of our venues is an open design where onlookers can stand outside the perimeter of the space and watch the band interact with the crowd.  Constant observations have demonstrated to me that when the onlooker hears the entertainment and stops to investigate. They are less likely to enter the space if they do not see a crowd dancing or otherwise enjoying the music. In addition, monitoring this situation has revealed a direct correlation between the time it takes the prospect to enter the room and the number of persons on the dance floor.  If it is zero, the onlooker is extremely unlikely to enter. In a venue with a capacity of 250, if there are 125 plus on the floor. The prospect will very likely enter the space with their waiting time reduced per every ten or so persons in the venue. It is this author’s hypothesis that this correlation can be defined by McPhee’s analysis.  The prospect arrives at the entrance to the venue with an idea of how they will likely feel about their night out. They weigh these thoughts against the enjoyment they see – more specifically how the other patrons appear to be reacting to the environment. The prospect’s decision to join the group is compounded with each body (one unit of positive stimuli) they see.

 

Of course, there are numerous variables at play in these situations. Style of music, time of night, day of week, look of the crowd, other choices available to the prospect, etc. However, in my opinion, McPhee’s analysis could provide additional evidence as to why dance floors seem to go from “famine to feast” in the blink of an eye.  That being the consumer watching from afar is weighing their internal opinions about the quality of music and if they will enjoy it against the reaffirming stimuli of the group. Since it is easy for them to categorize the size of the crowd against the perceived quality of the act, this decision will become shorter and shorter as the dance floor reaches capacity.

 

Venue managers can use this behavior to both increase the turnout as well as ancillary income such as drink sales. Here are a few ideas.

 

Getting and keeping bodies on the floor:

  • When the band goes on break, do not turn down the music and dim the stage lights. Keep it up and keep it lively.  If the budget permits, hire a DJ to spin during the band breaks. And if you only hire DJs, there should never be a break.
  • Reverse host psychology. Most venues I see typically only hire bottle girls… why do we not use bottle guys as well? Males will appeal to your prime female demographic, which will draw your male demographic at a compounded rate.
  • Hire appealing and personable non-serving hosts with the sole purpose of driving the dance floor. Theories of Mass Behavior show us the business science of having a larger group equates to profitability growing at a compound rate. Really weigh the costs of paying a host against the forecasted returns of a room at regular capacity.
  • You have to do it consistently. You want to condition the group of reaffirms (the people your prospects will look to) to come back on a regular basis. You do this by not making them guess. Give them the same quality entertainment every night. Don’t switch genres or styles once you start to see a following.

 

Once you have a crowd:

  • If you already have a strong crowd or operate a ticketed event that is at capacity such as an amphitheater. You can use social stimuli reinforcement to get people to purchase more drinks, food, and schwag. As anyone of legal drinking age who has been to a concert knows, when the guy next to you sits down with a beer. You suddenly want a beer. The more people sitting down with alcohol in your vicinity, the greater your thirst becomes.
  • Statistics are your friend. Collecting data has never been easier. If you sell food and beer, you should be recording those sales. Make sure sales can be categorized by time stamp as well. Now, make sure you are collecting door data through ticket sales or head counts. Those numbers should be time stamped as well. Look for patterns, seek out the lulls, and initiate “blitz” promos where you reduce costs for an hour or so. This will get beers in people’s hands and as more patrons enter after the promotion dies. They will see a positive stimulus and be more prone to buying beers to “join the pack.”

 

The goal here is to start using a new Key Performance Indicator (KPI) in your business analysis. Since I am from rock n’ roll, I like to call this measure The Bodies on the Floor KPI (in an ode to Drowning Pool).  If you analyze this social reinforcement statistic against your other indicators, you will likely find some secret data that could equate to better profitability for your brand.

 

 

The Strategic Importance of Brand Parity in Venue Management

 

Brand parity is an important component to marketing strategy. At its core, brand parity is aligning your product with the anticipated demands of the consumer by making sure you have the same attributes as rivals in your market. In his paper “Measuring Perceived Brand Parity.” James A. Muncy, from Valdosta State University, defines it as, “the overall perception held by the consumer that the differences between the major brand alternatives in a product category are small.” That statement is important from a marketing perspective because it reminds us that strategically aligning your offerings with what is expected in the marketplace can mitigate potential competitive advantages of your rivals. In venue management, this can be witnessed quite well in heavy “club” markets such as Vegas, Sao Paulo, Montreal, and Berlin where consumers have come to expect items such as VIP/ bottle service, security, scantily clad cocktail servers, top-of-the-line sound systems, impressive light shows and marquee DJs on deck. Club owners are happy to oblige because they know to compete they must “keep up with the Joneses,” or as marketers state – establish brand parity.

 

This brings us to the other side of brand parity strategy in venue management – if your pockets are deep enough. You can use it to oust competition by creating barriers to entry. This can be witnessed in Las Vegas where resident DJ’s (look at the list below from electronic.vegas) cost tens of thousands of dollars in performance fees alone with many easily cresting the $100,000 mark.

 

3LAU – Omnia Nightclub
A-Trak – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Above & Beyond – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Adrian Lux – Encore Beach Club
Alison Wonderland – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Alesso – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Afrojack
 – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Armin van Buuren – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Arty – Drai’s Nightclub, Drai’s Beach Club
Audien – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Axwell – Light Nightclub, Daylight Beach Club
Baauer – Light Nightclub, Daylight Beach Club
Benny Benassi – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Bingo Players – Hakkasan, Wet Republic
Borgeous – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Borgore – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub, Tao
Brillz – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
BRKLYN – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Burns – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Calvin Harris – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Carnage – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Cash Cash – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Cedric Gervais – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Chuckie – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Clockwork – Light Nightclub, Daylight Beach Club
Dada Life – Hakkasan, Wet Republic
Danny Avila – Hakkasan, Wet Republic
Dash Berlin – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
David Guetta – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Deadmau5 – XS, Encore Beach Club
Deniz Koyu – Encore Beach Club, Surrender
Deorro – Encore Beach Club
Dillon Francis – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
 – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Diplo – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
DJ Irie – Light, Daylight
DJ Mustard – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
DJ Shift – Drai’s Nightclub, Drai’s Beach Club
DJ Snake – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Duke Dumont – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Dyro – Light Nightclub, Daylight Beach Club
Dzeko & Torres – Hakkasan, Wet Republic
EC Twins – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
EDX – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Eric Prydz – Drai’s Nightclub, Drai’s Beach Club
Eva Shaw – Hakkasan, Wet Republic
FAED – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Fedde Le Grand – Encore Beach Club, XS
Ferry Corsten – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Fergie (DJ) – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Flosstradamus – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
French Montana – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Galantis – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Gareth Emery – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Getter – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Ghastly – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
gLAdiator – Drai’s Nightclub, Drai’s Beach Club
Grandtheft – Surrender
GTA – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Hardwell – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Heroes x Villains – XS
Hook N Sling – Light Nightclub, Daylight Beach Club
Illenium – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Ingrosso – Light Nightclub, Daylight Beach Club
Irie – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Jauz – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Julian Jordan – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Kaskade – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Kennedy Jones – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Krewella
 – Omnia
LA Leakers – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Laidback Luke – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Lil Jon – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Lost Kings – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Markus Schulz – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Martin Solveig – Surrender
Madeon – Encore Beach Club
Major Lazer – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
MAKJ – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Marshmello – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Martin Garrix – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Matoma – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Morgan Page – Surrender, Encore Beach Club
Nervo – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
NGHTMRE – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Nicky Romero – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Ookay – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Paper Diamond – Surrender
Party Favor – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Paul Oakenfold – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Porter Robinson
 – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Puff Daddy – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Quintino – Drai’s Nightclub, Drai’s Beach Club
Robin Schulz – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
RL Grime – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Ruckus – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Sander van Doorn – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Skrillex – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Slander – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Stafford Brothers – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Steve Angello – XS, Encore Beach Club
Steve Aoki – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Sultan & Ned Shepard – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano – Hakkasan, Wet Republic
The Chainsmokers – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Tiesto – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Timmy Trumpet – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Travis Scott – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Tritonal – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Tommy Trash – XS, Encore Beach Club
Ty Dolla $ign – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Vice – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Vinai – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Virgil Abloh – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
WeAreTreo – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Wolfgang Gartner
 – XS
Yellow Claw – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Zedd – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic

 

This impressive list demonstrates that if one wanted to start a club on the strip in Las Vegas, they would be extremely hard-pressed to do so as the environment demanded by consumers in this area would force them to meet the venue design, ambiance, and reportedly $1 million Calvin Harris makes each night at Hakkasan. Quite simply, they would need to adopt the brand parity of a market put in place by conglomerates backed by casino money. And if they choose not to, they would be lost in the advertising noise of a collective market working against them.

 

Obviously, other attributes come into play when launching a venue. You could position yourself in a tighter niche in the EDM world such as trance. You could reduce costs and charge consumers less than the $30-$50 charged by the major-branded clubs. You could even move off of the strip and cater to the locals. However, that is not the point of this post. The lesson here is. When planning, launching and running an entertainment venue, one must forego the blanket advice of many armchair marketers to simply differentiate the brand. Rather, you need to pinpoint what attributes you should (and can afford to) fall in line with to meet the customer expectations your competition has put in place. Only then, should you look for ways to differentiate.

 

 

 

It’s Not Polite To Point – Drum Cover

 

 

Well, here it is.  I have been working on this track for a few weeks. It is from a GREAT play-along Series called Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Play-Along. This was from Volume Two.  I highly suggest you pick-up this play-along. 

 

 

 

 

 

Personally, I feel pushing a big band is the toughest gig a drummer can do.  Reading, timing, color, and setting up the hits for around seven minutes is a real workout. It is even harder on an entry-level Roland Td-11… I’m not gonna’ lie…but quite doable when you use some technology tricks, feel out the kit, and work within its limitations.

 

   

What’s Your Baseline?

 

Have you ever had someone tell you something is a “good investment?”  It could have been a salesperson trying to sell you a new piece of machinery; a broker presenting a new stock;  a business partner serving up a new opportunity, or that new condo your spouse found.

 

But, how do you “really” know it is a good investment?

 

While the complexity of the answer is dependent on the level of investment, your risk tolerance, and other external factors. The solution boils down to two fundamentals. Your forecast of that return and the baseline from which you are making your analysis.

 

Today, I want to focus on the baseline as I plan to tackle the concept of forecasting in detail in subsequent posts.

 

Time and money are not infinite. This is economics 101. If you choose to spend either on one item. You take the same amount away from something else. E.g. if you have $1 in your pocket and purchase a soda for $1. You cannot purchase that $1 bag of chips as well. In this simple form, it seems ridiculous that someone couldn’t comprehend that concept, but you would be surprised how things change when it comes to long-term investments such as stocks, machinery, or large-capital projects.

 

Part of the problem is that potential investors do not have a go-to baseline to gauge the true value for the use of their money. Something that isn’t arbitrary. For instance, you can’t assess the success of one project against something else for which the returns must also be estimated, such as a stock or even another plan you are considering. Simply, you need something with a consistent history of positive returns from which to analyze your investment.

 

Personally, I gauge all potential investments against the 20-year T-bond. While nothing is risk-free, this financial vehicle is issued and backed by the faith of the US Government making it an ideal baseline for your analysis.  This is why many investment advisors follow a diversified portfolio that includes a chunk of these assets.

 

Using my suggestion, you would forecast the return on your investment. For instance, if you plan to buy a piece of machinery that will last twenty years and increase your business by 3%. You would weigh that against what you would get if you placed your funds in a 20-year T-bond. If that bond’s coupon rate is 4%, you may want to investigate that investment, your forecasts, and your decision a bit further.

 

A few notes of caution here. If you crunch the numbers and the bond turns out to be a better investment. Try to avoid engaging in confirmation bias – “the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.” Don’t re-do your numbers until your potential investment looks better on paper than your baseline. Second, depending on the current state of the bond market. You may want to use the yield instead of the coupon in your analysis as this metric takes into account the future value of the bond you are considering. Finally, keep in mind the gut instinct. If you trust your math and truly feel that the investment will be a wise choice. Go for it. However, give it a night’s rest before you sign the check.

 

Your baseline does not have to be a bond. It just has to be quantifiable, historic, and relatively risk-free. For example, if you are considering hiring musical entertainment for your venue. You could analyze your bar and food sales for six to twelve months before you bring in the talent and then weigh your current numbers against those historic metrics.

 

In a future post, I plan to discuss how you forecast possible returns. However, for today. Remember that to measure anything. You need a device from which to gauge the opportunity. You need a baseline.

 

 

Introducing Jeremy’s Drum Den

 

 

I am proud to announce my new YouTube playlist Jeremy’s Drum Den where I offer my insights on crafting studio-quality drum sounds in small spaces using electronic drums, digital audio workstations, and the latest drum software and plug-ins.

 

Follow me as I explore new drumming technologies and learn on-the-fly with the groove by my side.

 

 

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.