Meetings - Saturday
The Emerging Markets: Heroes and villains
The Venues' Venue: Fortresses of solitude
Workshop: Touring and taxation
Corporatisation: The masters of the universe
Workshop: The ten commandments of production heaven
Touring Exhibitions: Exploring new worlds
Workshop: Safeguarding the music venue
Ticketing: Presales and resales
Festival Income: Fields of green
Workshop: Location data and iBeacon
Industry Out-takes: 'It'll be alright on the night'
Chairs: Bariş Başaran (Pozitif Live) & Michal Kascak (Pohoda Festival)
Panellists: Semyon Galperin (Tele-Club), Tobbe Lorentz (The Agency Group), Ivan Milivojev (EXIT Festival), Tony Nagamaiah (Malaysia Major Events), Joshua Perry (Anova Music)
The session opened with a run through of a 27-question sector survey on the impact of consolidation in the live sector. In developed markets, 50% of respondents saw monopolisation as having some benefits, such as helping raise the bar of professionalism, while 25% of those in emerging markets felt the same.
Tobbe Lorentz of Agency Group Scandinavia did not see this as driving out small players completely. “There is definitely enough room for independents,” he said. “It is down to if they do a good job. A lot of it comes down to the relationship you have with a promoter.”
Ivan Milivojev of EXIT Festival said his event is often approached with takeover offers but they reject them. “Do people try to buy my festival?” he said. “All the time. It’s good to speak to them but we are still independent.”
Others were not so positive about these market trends. Semyon Galperin of Tele-Club in Russia was far from enthusiastic about Live Nation opening two years ago in his home country. “I would say their presence in Russia was destructive,” he said. “They do not promote at all. They just sell [in] bands.” He illustrated the problems here by talking about a Limp Bizkit show in Russia where there were multiple middlemen between Live Nation and the promoter. “It ended up that the stage in the arena was facing the wrong direction!” he joked. “If it started off that Fred Durst needed an umbrella, after it went through everyone it comes out that he wants a tomato.” Too many filters and gates meant the end messages were getting garbled.
The majority of the panel was dominated by geo-political and censorship issues. BarişBaşaran of Pozitif Live in Turkey warned against the rise of the far right in Europe and the wider impact this could have. “I feel entertainment will be the first in line to be chopped if things get more serious,” he said, noting acts are boycotting Israel and Russia over ideological differences. “It feels like things are starting to get really nasty.”
Galperin explained how shows were being cancelled in Russia for a number of reasons. Key among these were acts who dared to voice support or sympathy for the Ukraine. Another reason is the government wishing to paint Western acts as agents of immorality, explaining how a Marilyn Manson show was pulled because of religious extremists phoning in a bomb threat. “This is silently supported by the government,” he added.
On this morality issue, Malaysia was seen as a booming market but one with serious hurdles. “Can Marliyn Manson play in Malaysia? No,” said Tony Nagamaiah of Malaysia Major Events, a division of the country’s tourism department. “Miley Cyrus? No. Lady Gaga? No.”
He said One Direction could play as they fitted the family entertainment model but a show by Beyoncé was cancelled as she would not change how she dressed on stage. Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez have, however, agreed to tone down their shows in the country – but this all has to be agreed in contracts beforehand.
Israel is also wrapped in controversy but Joshua Perry of Anova Music said protests are not an issue like they are in Russian or Malaysia. “Israel is a democracy and a liberal place,” he said. “Acts can come to Israel and criticise the government or be pro-Palestine. The government can’t cancel a show.”
Galperin ended by talking about state-sponsored homophobia in Russia, where it is illegal to be seen to talk positively about homosexuality. “Madonna and Lady Gaga were both sued in court as they said things about homosexuality on stage.” They were acquitted but it may stop them coming back to the country and others could follow suit until the political situation in the country changes.
See more photos of this session here.
Chair: Marie Lindqvist (Stockholm Globe Arenas)
Panellists: Ilan Faktor (Masada Arena), Steen Jørgensen (Vega Copenhagen), Robert Fitzpatrick (Odyssey Arena)
The session opened with Guy Dunstan, chairman of the UK’s National Arenas Association, presenting the results of his organisation’s annual survey of its members, while IQ’s Gordon Masson followed with stats from the annual European Festival Report, and Victoria Matthews from the European Arenas Association reported the headlines of that trade body’s annual health check.
Despite a number of anomalies, the three documents highlighted increasing ticket prices and similar growth in venue usage for the likes of live music and family shows.
Giving a voice to the smaller venues sector, Jørgensen, whose Vega club in Copenhagen has a 1,600-capacity, voiced a concern that would be repeated across a number of panels throughout the ILMC weekend – the season for indoor venues throughout Europe getting shorter and shorter, year upon year.
Fitzpatrick said that the growing concern of a lack of headline acts was also having an impact on the arenas market, with fewer acts stepping up from the likes of the Vega-sized clubs to the 5,000-plus rooms. “It’s no accident that a lot of venues are investing in curtaining systems so that they can have a flexible capacity,” he said.
Highlighting concerns over competition that were noted in each of the arena surveys conducted over the past couple of months, Lindqvist asked how this concern manifested itself. “The two big indoor venues in Ireland are now realising that we have to shut our doors between June and September because the bigger acts can do festivals or stadiums instead in those months,” replied Fitzpatrick. “The problem is that three-month period is now encroaching into May and October, so it’s no longer the case that we can rely on the bands coming through to fill the calendar as we used to.”
That wasn’t the case with all the panellists though. “I feel safe when it comes to competition,” laughed Faktor, “because we have a unique outdoor venue on the Dead Sea that doesn’t have any real direct competition.”
Underlining just how fierce the rivalry is becoming in the bricks and mortar world, Lindqvist said her venue’s virtual monopoly in Stockholm had been smashed in the past two years with the opening of two new arenas in the city.
Jørgensensaid that the imminent launch of a new arena in Copenhagen, although good news for the city, had potential issues. “We need to try to keep the focus of the decision makers who are going to be very distracted by the new arena,” he said. “Also, the new arena might be good for Copenhagen in terms of seeing more big shows, but it means there is more competition for the arenas across the bridge in Sweden.”
The need for new content to combat competition would appear to be a main priority for most venues, big and small, with Fitzpatrick reporting the success of his arena’s military tattoo, which has quickly expanded from one night to three, while comic-themed events and Game of Thrones gatherings had also proved fruitful. “We cannot be precious about what we bring in,” he added, noting that the current occupier of Odyssey Arena was a mother and baby pregnancy fair.
Jørgensenoutlined similar searches for new content at Vega. “Our concerts take place over six months of the year, so we try to rent the venue out for corporate and other events and we’re also trying to grow our audience with crossover stuff such as poetry or classical music. We also have 50s parties because our building is from the 50s and still has original features and furniture.”
The scale of events at Faktor’s Masada venue allows it to host a 70,000 capacity opera festival, while it also recently hosted a large EDM event. “We’re mostly about music – we don’t have many family events because of the expense involved. But our experience involves hotels, having a meal beforehand and partying after.”
Nuria Goytre from the EAA said a number of member festivals were experiencing success with digital gaming events, where people come along dressed as their favourite gaming characters, while she revealed that some German and Swiss arenas were bringing YouTube stars into their buildings, which was having great success with their young fans. Meanwhile, a delegate from Oslo spoke of a recent 72-hour event where people brought their own gaming equipment, sleeping bags, etc, and played games against each other for three days solid.
Brian Kabatznick from AEG noted, “One interesting genre that is not really in Europe yet is country music. This year we’re taking our Country to Country show to Stockholm, Dublin and Oslo. We’ve sold 40,000 tickets this very ILMC weekend for shows at The O2 arena in London, so we as a company, are hoping that we can expand that brand and genre around Europe.”
Fitzpatrick also highlighted his venue’s desire to capitalise on the ice side of its business, which revolves around its resident ice hockey team. “Around Christmas we opened up to public skating and that was very popular and gives us another way to monetise hockey season.” And he also believes that country is on the rise. “There are maybe a dozen acts that can sell arenas, but who are not currently on the tour circuit in Europe.”
And with venues looking to book up their calendars, management is taking bigger strides into promoting their own events. “We don’t want to take the bread out of promoters’ mouths, but we will look at taking a risk on certain things – we had a science lesson world record, for instance, and the promoters would not be interested in something like that,” said Fitzpatrick.
Faktor, on the other hand, promotes the majority of shows at Masada. “It all comes down to tourism for us, so we get a lot of support when we come up with a good idea. We start taking money from people when they get on the bus to come to the venue. But we also work with travel companies on packages like charter flights.”
Other revenue earners such as Up On The O2 were highlighted, while Lindqvist said a similar idea had been introduced in Stockholm where gondolas ascend the roof of her venue to give people a different view of the city.
And highlighting some of the capital investment that venues are undertaking that they will not see any earnings from, Fitzpatrick revealed a £1million project to install Wi-Fi at the Odyssey, while Lindqvist reported that The O2 arena recently spent £600,000 to upgrade its Wi-Fi connectivity for visitors.
Hosts: Dr Dick Molenaar (All Arts Tax Advisers) and Dr Harald Grams (Grams Und Partner)
Molenaar introduced the workshop by exploring some of the changes and latest news on taxation and deductions, in particular the Article 17 tax treaty. He considered various challenges that have arisen from the context and history of working in the live music business, and noted recent developments regarding the taxation of entertainers and sports persons.
Together with Grams, Molenaar detailed the latest news on tax deductions to an attentive audience, detailing specifics like the special tax treatment for artists performing in different countries. The hosts discussed and suggested solutions to minimise the tax burden, and delved into such areas as the possibility to exclude subsidised artists, especially in theatre.
They also touched upon moves for a proposal to set a global minimum income under which taxation should not be applicable. They told delegates that discussions are ongoing with various ministry of finance representatives in an attempt to help artists make a decent income, as well as to make it easier for people in showbiz to pay their taxes in the same way for all the countries they visit internationally, without having to wade through reams of paperwork.
Chair: Ben Challis (Glastonbury Festival)
Panellists: Rainer Appel (CTS Eventim), Chris Carey (Media Insight Consulting), Barry Dickins (ITB), Wayne Forte (Entourage Talent Associates), Tom Miserendino (AEG Europe), Pete Wilson (3A Entertainment)
Chris Carey of Media Insight Consulting opened the session by going through growth figures in live music revenue. “Having spent some years at record companies,” he joked, “it’s nice to see lines going up.”
The UK was up 111% between 2004 and 2013 while the US was up 82% between 2004 and 2013. He asked, rhetorically, if this was a result of corporatisation. He drew on a sporting analogy and explained how the live industry needs to invest in talent at the bottom end and build them up over the years to become headliners. “Do you build footballers or wait until they are good and buy them?”
Wayne Forte of Entourage Talent Associates was critical of the rampant culture of acquisitions in live. He cited SFX buying up promoters who own venues as symptomatic of this. “They wanted real estate,” he said. “When you have real estate, you have control.”
He also talked about Live Nation’s aggressive growth, buying up venues and then buying up artists like Madonna and Jay Z. “They were losing money but they wanted to dominate the market,” he argued. “When you dominate the market you can charge what you want.”
Barry Dickins of ITB was less pessimistic. “Being involved with Live Nation and AEG, I have nothing but admiration,” he explained. “They brought in professionalism. It is the music business but there was never any business [element]. AEG, Live Nation and Eventim had people who understood the business. It showed us how to run a business.
He added, however, the pursuit of profit alone is bad for artists and the business overall. “Being an agent is not necessarily about getting the most money. When I tell a client they shouldn’t tour, they should listen. But unfortunately sometimes they don’t!”
Tom Miserendino of AEG Europe was more defensive. “Corporatisation is a 15-letter word that people treat as a four-letter word,” he quipped.
Dickins argued that corporate structures are only useful to a point and the live industry still runs on personal connections. “It’s a people business,” he suggested. “You have to hit it off with people.”
He talked of the importance of the ‘toilet circuit’ and said, as it would be unprofitable for the biggest players to compete here, independents can flourish. “It’s really important we keep those guys in business.”
Looking to the future, Pete Wilson of 3A Entertainment sounded a note of caution. “Corporatisation is great for the corporate companies,” he said. “They sew up the tickets and venues, they buy up promoters. But there is going to be a time when you don’t need promoters. Promoters at the moment are just banks.”
Carey ended by giving some forecasts for the sector that were cautiously optimistic. “The market will be up in 10 years but not as much as it has been in the last 10 years,” he said.
Dickins concluded by saying, “The corporates will grow but there will always be individual promoters. If the business doesn’t evolve, we are all fucked.”
Hosts: Bryan Grant (Britannia Row) Carl A H Martin (cahm.uk)
After the IPM on Thursday 5 March, where production issues such as the effects of fatigue on crew were discussed, the ILMC workshop on the rules for production heaven started off with the aim of taking the topic to a broader audience.
Hoping to spread the word about production sector concerns to agents and promoters, Grant and Martin, set out to establish crossover communications between the different parts of the industry to ensure that safety, above all else, is observed at all times.
Some of the points raised during the hour-long workshop session included: shorter work hours for rigging employees to avoid excessive fatigue levels; hiring trustworthy staff who tell no lies; avoiding the temptation to skimp on production budgets; trying not to hire dodgy workers; always working with an updated production rider; and continuously delivering on promises.
Messrs Grant and Martin also reported some of the topics discussed at the inaugural International Safety Alliance Symposium, held in Turkey in late February, which highlighted the issues on safety in the entertainment industry and live events. The hosts drew delegate attention to the Event Safety Guide, which, as a bible for event production employees, will now hopefully be adopted internationally, establishing clear best practice guidelines for everyone to refer to, working under the universal mantra that “gravity works everywhere”.
Chair: Steve Machin (dotTickets)
Presenters: Serge Grimaux (Intellitix), Sanj Surati (Holition), Dave Walmsley and Andy Spence (NetMonkeys), Dan O’Neill (Centtrip), Jean-Olivier Dalphond (PixMob), Mike Ryan (Victor), Mariano Robles (Airbeem), Andrew Barker and Sarah Purdy (Taylor Construction Plant), Vitaveska Lanfranchi (K-Now)
This year’s tech panel took on a new look as a ‘speed-dating’ format was introduced, giving presenters four minutes to pitch their products and services. The popularity of the session saw it move to a bigger room in the ILMC hotel and despite that extra space, once again it was standing room only for delegates anxious to keep tabs on the latest innovations targeting the live entertainment market.
Chair Machin started proceedings by providing delegates with an update on dotTickets, which as a concept was born three years previously at ILMC. Having now secured the .tickets internet domain name, Machin and his team are working toward going live in a few months time, with the .tickets suffix designed to instil trust among the ticket buying public and banish fraudulent ticket websites.
The series of company presentations began with Grimaux showing a short film about Intellitix, which has now been at 40 events across 10 countries and has processed $50million of cashless spending transactions. “Managing the growth has been the major challenge with Intellitix and also convincing people that what I say is true,” said Grimaux.
Surati explained how his background in a band opened his eyes to a growing appetite for social engagement through the Internet. He used video footage to showcase some of the events and products Holition has worked on and although he stated that virtual reality will be a big thing in 2015, he predicted that VR gigs in people’s living rooms is probably two years away.
Walmsley and Spence outlined NetMonkeys’ new Made for Music software suite, which has been designed to “end the chaos for people managing the gig booking and promoting process.” The programme allows different departments to build layer on layer, using the same platform interface and can save many man hours by automatically integrating the likes of data reports from ticket agencies.
Using mobile phone apps, K-Now can also improve crowd management and safety. Lanfranchi spoke of three K-Now products: Social Sense, which is a platform that allows the live analysis of social media; Staff Sense, which allows real-time reporting by staff and allows organisers to know where staff are on-site: and You Sense, which is a mobile app for crowd management and can incorporate such breakthrough technology as geo fencing services.
O’Neill from Centtrip gave a concise pitch on the company’s low-cost foreign currency exchange Mastercard product, which promises savings from 2.5-4% compared to other cards and can be of huge financial benefit to the likes of touring productions.
With such high profile clients as Arctic Monkeys, Sensation and the Superbowl, PixMob’s programmable LED wristbands have already made spectacular headlines, including using 80,000 Superbowl guests as a human video screen. But Dalphond unveiled the next step in the evolution – PixMob Connect – which can also allow event organisers to gain valuable data as people sign up to the service, plus tracking technology to analyse where those people go and what they do.
Ryan spoke about the increasing demand for air charter services, in part driven by EDM artists flying between shows. And he used the forum of ILMC to launch Victor’s new app, which Machin referred to as “Uber for private jets.”
ILMC app developer Airbeem showcased a number of its successful apps for festivals and artists and highlighted its data-driven targeted promotions that can be used to generate new revenue streams through mobile phones.
On the production side of things, TCP’s Barker and Purdy brought along an Ecolite lighting system, powered by a Hydrogen fuel cell, which despite the fact it had been running throughout the Tech session, had gone completely unnoticed by delegates. With zero noise pollution, zero carbon emmissions and zero particulates, the Ecolite generated a lot of interest and with running costs also about 50% less than normal generators, the future for the Ecolite seems bright.
Chair: Christoph Scholtz (Semmel Concerts)
Panellists: Manu Braff (Fire-Starter), Rob Kirk (Grande Exhibitions), Maren Krumdieck (Natural History Museum), Noel McHale (MCD), Vincent Sager (Opus One)
While the majority of ILMC is involved with live music, one panel looked in detail at the rising power of the touring exhibitions market – where museums and galleries put some of their collections on the road to generate new income.
London was cited as the birthplace of the touring exhibition when, in 1850, the V&A lent some of its objects to Somerset House. Admittedly, that was just down the road but the international circuit for exhibitions has shot up dramatically in recent years.
Maren Krumdieck of the Natural History Museum in London said, “It is for profit – but it is about extending the reach of the museum. The money from exhibitions feeds back into research in the museum.”
The first big trend this century was in family exhibitions but that has now evolved into touring exhibitions. “It is time-consuming and expensive to set-up,” said Vincent Sager of Opus One, “but we see it as part of our future.”
Manu Braff of Fire-Starter in Belgium noted how it has a very different dynamic to live music and so anyone wanting to operate here has to enter with a different mindset. “It is about the effort you have to put in to keeping something running for a long time – which is very different from an act playing one night,” he said. “It’s about spreading a big marketing budget over nine months. Unless you are very lucky, you are not going to sell 40% of your tickets before it opens.”
Venues are keen to avail of the opportunities here as some exhibitions can help draw in crowds during the quiet months of the year, but it was agreed that few live venues actually go this route because such exhibitions tend to work better in museum spaces.
What can happen, however, is vacant buildings in cities can be put to use here with examples being given of La Bourse (the old stock exchange in Brussels) and an abandoned church in Florence finding new life as destination venues.
Major exhibitions around the likes of Van Gogh and the Titanic have done well, but one category is outperforming everyone else – dinosaurs. “They are the Rolling Stones of the touring exhibition world,” quipped Christoph Scholz of Semmel Concerts.
Noel McHale of MCD in Ireland said the biggest challenge was competing with other museums and galleries in the local area that are free. Exhibitions have to be of the highest quality to persuade people to pay to come in. He added that research is only part of the decision-making process as to what to put on. “A lot of it is gut feeling and discussing it with the marketing team,” he admitted. “70% of it is gut feeling that it will work.”
Hosts: Mark Davyd (Music Venues Trust), Fabien Miclet (Liveurope)
Davyd spoke of the downward spiral during the past few years, in the UK, and more specifically London, where an increasing number of venues have closed their doors, with little hope of salvation. He explained that years of neglect have led to this, with venues left in precarious conditions, thanks to poor facilities, reduced touring activity and dwindling audience numbers. As a result, the survival of small venues (under 300capacity) is in danger.
Those were the pessimistic conclusions of a report conducted by the Music Venues Trust and the ICMP, entitled ‘Understanding Small Music Venues’. To combat this dilemma, the MVT has launched its Grassroots Investor programme – a two-phased strategic intervention that it hopes will win widespread support to protect the long-term prospects for the sector.
Another interesting initiative to help small venues, not only in the UK but also throughout Europe, was outlined by Miclet. He explained that Liveurope is a live music platform for new European talent, with the objective of increasing the programming of emerging European acts. However, it also supports venues by providing opportunities for artists to tour the circuit. Thirteen venues in Europe have already signed up, providing a great platform for those buildings to promote emerging talent and help them break through into new territories around Europe.
Chair: John Langford (SEC Ltd)
Panellists: Andrew Parsons (Ticketmaster UK), Peter Briffett (YPlan), Neo Sala (Doctor Music), Nuala Donnelly (O2), Todd Sims (AXS)
Chairman John Langford told a packed session that the heading of this year’s ticketing discussion was somewhat compromised by the fact that none of the major secondary ticketing platforms wanted to participate in the panel. However, the absence of the ‘legitimate’ resale companies (although, at least one was represented in the room) did not detract from a lively debate about the state of the ticketing business – helped along by Langford’s promise of a bottle of whisky for the best question from the audience.
Noting that it “makes sense” for major promoters to have an active role in ticketing, Parsons observed that the remit of ticketing entities has fundamentally changed. “Once upon a time, we had reactive sales systems, but now we provide marketing power too. We can help sell out a show before any adverts are ever placed,” said Parsons. Sims agreed, adding, “We are a consumer engagement platform and that increasingly is involving in-venue opportunities.”
O2’s Donnelly noted that while data capture has been a hot topic for a number of years now, there was still confusion about how to use that data. “Basically, if you’re not using data to personalise the experience for the fan, then you are missing a trick,” she said.
Explaining how his company had established one of Spain’s biggest ticketing platforms, before selling it to Ticketmaster, Sala shared his belief that the use of mobile technology is set to soar in coming years. “At the moment, 40% of our sales are by mobile, but in the next five years this will maybe reach 80%,” he stated.
Nonetheless, YPlan’s Briffett was critical at the slow pace of evolution in the ticketing business. “Companies are doing well, but consumers are not,” he blasted. “There has been no innovation in ticketing for the past 10 years, since the sales platform went online.”
Parsons dismissed claims that Ticketmaster was shying away from introducing the likes of dynamic pricing models, revealing, “Our Platinum system allows us to dynamically price tickets based on the demand in the market. It certainly is not a perfect world, but we get a lot of what we do right.”
Backing up his Ticketmaster rival, Sims from AXS said, “An algorithm cannot figure in career considerations: we did a $37 ticket for a Katy Perry tour. That was obviously underpriced but it was important for the long-term career of the artist.”
The ticketing service providers also spoke about their ongoing battle to beat the bots and deter the touts, citing paperless ticketing, which effectively uses the purchaser’s credit card as the ticket, among other strategies.
Picking up on the thorny issue of booking fees, artist manager Adam Parsons told the panel that he had a $34 ticket on sale for an artist at a venue in New York, which ended up costing fans $47 after Ticketmaster’s fees. “That’s a huge percentage and it’s going to hurt my show,” he said. Sympathetic to his plight, Sala said that new technology should hopefully start bringing booking fees down.
Highlighting the phenomenal success of O2’s Priority campaign, Donnelly revealed the telecoms provider’s first presale venture sold just 130 tickets from a database of about 19million people. Now in its tenth year, however, Priority has 1.5m people who regularly buy tickets through the service. “O2 makes no money from it – it’s pure investment on our part,” she said.
Promoter Stuart Galbraith from Kilimanjaro Live is one of the most recent beneficiaries of the Priority marketing campaigns and applauded O2’s major role in helping sell out three Wembley Stadium shows for Ed Sheeran. “We sold the first Ed show purely on presale and without O2 we probably would have stuck at 80,000 tickets, but as it is we’ve sold 240,000 tickets and we could have put on another Wembley show as well.”
Parsons noted that the success of presales may be a reason for consumer frustrations. “Part of the negativity we get is because we do so well on presale that there is nothing left for the on-sale and that generates criticism.” And Sims concluded, “The consumer experience is very lumpy, but if we can use data to ensure that fans who missed out on the latest tour are first in line for the next tour, then that will definitely help improve the experience for all.”
Chair: Hugh Phillimore (Cornbury Festival)
Panellists: Dan Berkowitz (CID Entertainment), Serge Grimaux (Intellitix), Adam Goodyer (Concert Live Ltd), Gary Pitt (Get In Bed)
Getting consumers to spend more at festivals is something that everyone in the chain wants, but technology is now able to happily help whip this along. The smaller festivals are now more open to the potential that technology can unlock for this with the panel chair, Hugh Philllimore of Cornbury Festival, opening by saying, “We were approached last year [to use RFID] but as I am a bit of a technophobe I was a bit scared. But now I am ready to be seduced.”
Serge Grimaux of Intellitix said there was a 15-20% uplift in spend when festivals switch to cashless payment solutions, noting that for some festivals this can total $10m in extra revenue. As such, it is something no one can afford to overlook. He said that his company will underwrite the infrastructure costs, meaning there is no investment barrier for smaller events. “I genuinely generate more cash for the event,” he asserted. “I give them data. I give them audience profiling.”
Adam Goodyer of Concert Live explained how his company pivoted from offering live CD burning at shows to getting into analytics, something digital technologies are properly harnessing and tracking now. “When you collect data and manipulate it you see patterns for what makes people buy things,” he said. “Don’t push people things they don’t want. Push them things they do want. Which is why my Facebook feed is full of porn and guns which is clearly relevant to me and my family!”
Dan Berkowitz of CID Entertainment outlined how VIP packages are dramatically changing the landscape and earning potential of festivals – and why there is a push towards experiential packages. At Bonnaroo his company offers the Roll Like A Rock Star package where people stay in a tour bus, have golf carts to drive them around, have three meals a day prepared by a dedicated chef, free bars and viewing areas at five stages. It costs $3,500 per head all in and they have now built up the business to the point where 250 people a year sign up for this.
On a more affordable level, he pointed to the $60 shuttle pass offered by Coachella where 30,000 people a day across 24 locations use this to get onto the site. “It’s become part of the fabric of the show now,” he says.
Research and talking to the audience are key and will help make the experience better, ensuring repeat business. Gary Pitt of Get In Bed says he regularly goes out to the camping sites to ask people what they can do to make it a better experience. “Do something that’s going to make a difference to someone in the field,” is what he tells brands. Either solve a problem for them or make the experience nicer – citing a phone-charging service as the best example of this in action.
Post-event research is also critical. “The more you know about that person and how they have come to the event, the more valuable that is to a brand,” he said of how this sector has matured. “Brands are expecting proper marketing and ad campaigns to come from a festival or they will walk away.”
Hosts: Dan Brown (AXS) and James Cobb (Crowd Connected)
One of the final sessions on Saturday had the future firmly in its sights, with Brown and Cobb providing an overview of iBeacons and what the live industry stands to gain from them. “It’s really all about money,” said Cobb, forecasting a sector that will explode in the coming years, driving at-event spending and reducing consumer churn as customers start to feel more valued.
There are, however, limits to how far venues and festivals should go in tracking customer movement. They cited one example of a festival that went beyond tracking smartphones to using facial recognition software on CCTV, which was generally agreed to be a step too far. “If it feels creepy,” Brown said, “don’t do it.”
The biggest challenge for festivals is moving away from GPS as a tracking system as it is not always sufficiently accurate or energy efficient. The next stage of evolution is iBeacons, which can tell where people are to within 30 meters on a festival site. It requires an infrastructure investment but this is low-cost – currently costing as little as £10 per beacon.
“Real-time location insight enables better decision making during shows,” said Cobb in terms of how it can be used in crowd management, showing crowd build-ups and bottlenecks in real-time. This live data can affect safety and compliance as well as predict arrival rates of audiences and give advance warnings of high crowd density.
The technology can monitor where people are waiting and for how long, meaning organisers can understand queue time better. They explained how, at The O2, the concessions stands near the stairs get jammed. But because the venue is a circle and there are stands all around, prompts can be sent to consumers to explain what outlets are round the corner that may be quicker. Within this, it can also send consumers an offer to a bar that is underused to incentivise them and also ensure there are not lost sales due to excessive queue times.
“We know where the customer is and marry that to the technology we have to improve the customer experience,” said Brown. “Simple messaging to the consumer is so powerful.”
In practice, if a customer comes to a venue three times in a certain period, the beacon can identify them and text them an invite to the VIP bar. They still have to buy a drink, so it costs the venue nothing, but helps the customer feel valued. “The volume of data you get,” noted Brown, “is mind-blowing.”
Chairs: Michael Chugg (Chugg Entertainment) and Dave Chumbley (Primary Talent)
Panellists: Paul Crockford (Paul Crockford Management), Jessica Koravos (Really Useful Group), Jef Hanlon (Jef Hanlon Promotions), Neil O’Brien (Neil O'Brien Entertainment)
Saturday’s conference programme ended with a hilarious exposé of some of the most bizarre ‘fuck-ups’ experienced by people working in the live music industry, with chairs Chuggi and Chumbley also recounting a handful of their most entertaining war stories to a packed auditorium.
Tales included Crockford witnessing a knife fight between Rome and Sicily based crews – and the moment a crowd watched a band member’s wife being “looked after” under the stage, as her husband played keyboards directly above.
Koravos spoke of the aftermath of Michael Jackson’s death when she was part of the AEG team that had to field calls from creditors such as the taxi driver in Las Vegas who had been permanently on call for the superstar for the past six years – and the facility in Arizona that claimed to have a contract to cryogenically freeze Jackson and were therefore demanding that his body be delivered to them.
Hanlon recalled the incident where Diana Ross had decided to fly in for shows at London’s Palladium on Concorde, leaving the flight case with her dresses stranded in New York as it was too large to fit on the supersonic plane.
Chuggi admitted to a faux pas with a gig in Melbourne, where the stage was built in the wrong place, meaning 15,000 people were behind it. And to compound their misery, someone forgot to book any shuttle buses, meaning the audience had to walk the 10 miles back into the city following the show.
Midas Promotions promoter Michael Hosking detailed the lead up to a wrestling event in Bahrain when searching for a wrestling ring, his Indian accountant said he had one. When show day approached and he asked where the ring was, the accountant led him into his office and picked up a bell – “See, ring ring…”
Noting that even the best made plans sometimes backfire, Koravos spoke about the time when the New York Times arrived to interview the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar just as things unravelled and news broke that the promoter was pulling the tour.
Phil Rodriguez of Move Concerts shared his story of a flight with UB40 and their crew, when a heated card game resulted in a drunk roadie fighting to rip open the aircraft door above the Andes.
Winding down Saturday’s conference itinerary with such a fun-packed panel was a major hit with delegates and it looks as if ILMC has found a new mainstay session to repeat for many years to come.