Some Simple Concepts For Better Engaging With Fans At Shows

from the ditch-ticketmaster dept

We recently wrote about the live music market, noting that lots of people seemed to agree that the massive additional fees and surcharges seemed to be a huge problem — and most of those fees seem to come from Ticketmaster. So it’s interesting to see that some are finally looking at ways to get around the old way of handling tickets. Shane Richmond at The Telegraph recently discussed his experience going to see The Pixies in London, where the band used some rather straightforward and simple tools to make the concert-going experience a hell of a lot more enjoyable:

As soon as I got the email I went to the Pixies’ website and bought tickets. The tickets — not a receipt but the tickets themselves — were emailed minutes later in PDF form. I printed them off on the day of the gig and they were scanned at the venue by an iPhone-wielding staff member.

Apparently, this was all done via a new Topspin app. In this case, The Pixies had apparently used Topspin to put together an email list — starting from scratch and got it up to over 100,000 pretty quickly — and then sent a single email out announcing the show, selling the tickets directly. You can see the iPhone scanning operation below:

At Hypebot (the link above) Rogers noted: “100% of fans acquired via Topspin, all marketing direct-to-fan via Topspin, every ticket sold via Topspin, and every person entering the venue after being checked in by the Topspin iPhone application.” While that’s nice buzz for Topspin, certainly other tools could be used to do the same thing (or something similar). The really interesting part is the lack of Ticketmaster.

But, perhaps even more interesting is some of the other aspects of how the band then took a few very simple steps to make the concert going experience even more enjoyable. Going back to Richmond’s post:

Anyway, a couple of weeks before the show I got an email from the Pixies:

“If you’re reading this email, it means we’ll see you at TROXY London for two shows in June. We’re looking forward to it. What songs do you want us to play? Reply and tell us.”

Just before the show they emailed again thanking everyone who sent requests and saying that they had a setlist they thought we would like. Now for all I know, some guy who works for the Pixies might have dealt with all the emails and the band themselves may never have looked at them but it doesn’t much matter. The engagement — even if it was an illusion — helped to build my excitement about the gig.

A few weeks after the gig, the band emailed again, this time sending me a link to a download of two songs from the gig I went to. So I now have a very nice souvenir of the show too.

Now, I’m sure that some will respond to this with a “so what?” There’s no whiz-bangery going on here to make all this happen. This is all pretty straight-forward and simple. And, that’s part of the point. None of this needs to really be “new,” it just needs to be done well, and that means focusing on the stuff people like, such as making things convenient and making people feel like they belong, and minimizing the stuff people hate, such as excess fees and surcharges and feeling like an afterthought rather than a valued part of the community, and you can really do an amazing job connecting with fans (and, oh yes, giving them a reason to buy).

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Companies: ticketmaster, topspin

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Comments on “Some Simple Concepts For Better Engaging With Fans At Shows”

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john smith says:

Yes, I totally agree about Ticketmaster, I bought tickets for the Help for Heroes charaty concert at Twickenham yesterday from the only place they were on sale, ticketmaster and they charged me £5.40 each for each ticket and £2.00 for postage. 1st class post, not registered is 41p. this complany is ripping off the fans. I would love it if we could buy tickets for Gigs in UK without being forced to use Ticketmaster

britmic (profile) says:


I used to work at ticketmaster uk in the mid ’90s and I’m surprised it’s taken this long for them to begin to be usurped – shows the strength of their relationship managers with venues I guess.

Anyway. I always remember that cancelled tickets were a huge profit maker for ticketmaster, cancelled tickets were great. Why? Because not only did ticketmaster keep the original booking fee and re-sell the tickets with a new booking fee – there was a cancellation fee on some events too!

There was also a huge mark-up on expedited delivery, counting on the fact that fans are impatient to get the tickets into their hands.

The world of digital abundance will force Ticketmaster to become competitive – but not until it’s relationship managers fail to get good ticket allocations.

I guess, good seats are the scarcity here (unless we’re talking general admission)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ticketmaster

“shows the strength of their relationship managers with venues I guess.”

The managers and venues ARE TicketBastard/LiveNation. This is the vertical integration that created antitrust concerns for the governments. The deal was given approval anyway.
I am super glad to hear there are alternatives but I imagine things like this will only work where the venue is not owned by TicketBastard/LiveNation.

out_of_the_blue says:

Middlemen resellers are the problem,

and now largely unnecessary. I’d call this more anti-Ticketmaster than pro-band, but it’s certainly the way to go. Not all that long ago traveling entertainers did their own PR and sales; apparently after records came in, that was turned over by “artists” to people promising ease and relief from the mysterious technical and legal aspects who then of course skimmed the profits. A small example of relying on outside experts for what should be done in-house.

Yet I don’t think it all wise to encourage being tricked (nor for a band to do so!):
“Now for all I know, some guy who works for the Pixies might have dealt with all the emails and the band themselves may never have looked at them but it doesn’t much matter. The engagement — even if it was an illusion — helped to build my excitement about the gig.”
I’ll just hope that “go on, trick me” is thoughtless gushing.

Simon Chamberlain (profile) says:

I was at that gig, and I agree 100% with Mike’s post (one of my first thoughts was ‘I bet Techdirt would appreciate this’…).

It was great: no booking fees (so £30 meant £30, not closer to £40). A small venue, by Pixies standards (because they were marketing it direct to fans, rather than using mass advertising). An interesting setlist, because it was influenced by hardcore fans requesting more obscure songs. The email marketing was nice – it might have been better to offer a whole gig for download (even if they charged something for it) rather than ‘just’ a couple of songs, but at least they’re trying something.

I really hope to see more artists use this approach.

Oh, and Songkick – mentioned in the Telegraph article – is brilliant, and it’s how I found about the gig too.

One thing: “the tickets were emailed within minutes” – this is pretty standard for UK gigs these days, I don’t know about anywhere else. Many vendors give the option of emailing and printing tickets rather than mailing hardcopies.

River (profile) says:

I lie near a very big LN venue. And to buy a 25. lawn seat costs 40. by the time “fees” are added.

There’s a 9. convenience fee, at box office OR online. And a 6. parking fee per ticket, regardless of whether you drive, take a bus, walk or carpool.

I passed on a lot of concerts this year, shows I would normally go see (Maroon 5, John Mayer/Train, Crosby Stills & Nash, Rush, Aerosmith, etc.)because my 25. seat was now 40.

And not only did they miss out on my ticket money, they lost out on the 6.00 Pepsi, the 13. beer, the 5.00 hot dog.. and the 40. shirt.

LN was so desperate to sell tickets they offered a no service fee June.. and the shows i did go to, I bought during June so I didn’t pay an extra 15. per ticket.

And the concerts I went to, with artists that sell out? Had maybe half capacity. They didn’t advertise the no service fee tix. And in this kind of economy, people couldn’t afford those hefty fees on top of already outrageous prices. 50. for a lawnseat? I’m looking at YOU, Aerosmith!

jjones444 (profile) says:

Show your fans appreciation.

I’m always excited to see musicians and actors interact with the crowd or with their audience at shows. I mean, the crowd is the reason they’re there in the first place and the reason they are employed. I also like when they offer discounted tickets if you buy several at a time, like when airlines offer no booking fees. It’s the best!

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