Secondary Ticketing Needs to Change

As an advocate of the future of Live Music as both a consumer and provider I would like to express my frustration in secondary ticketing. In May of 2014 I remember sitting down at my computer to purchase a ticket to my favorite band, Zac Brown Band at Fenway Park. It was an hour after the tickets went on sale that I went to select “purchase” but soon realized I was an hour too late. 70,000 tickets had been sold within thirty minutes. A ticket that went from a reasonable price of $60 with a decent view, quickly jumped to $170.

The secondary ticket market in 2012 was about a $3 billion to $5 billion business, growing at a rate somewhere between 12 percent and 24 percent. As of 2013, only a few states prohibited reselling tickets or made it unreasonable to do so. The practice is prohibited in Kentucky and Michigan, although Kentucky doesn’t establish any penalties for a violation. Massachusetts limits the markup to $2 but allows a broker to add a service charge to recoup the expense of buying the ticket. Rhode Island and North Carolina both limit the amount charged above face value to $3. New Jersey has a more generous policy that enables brokers to charge up to 150 percent of the ticket’s face value. In Hawaii, Indiana, and Maryland it is currently illegal to resell a ticket for a boxing match at more than its face value (according to the Maryland Code, this law only applies if you are an event “promoter”). Indiana also prohibits the resale of tickets to any sparring or other unarmed combat match for more than face value, while Maryland limits it to boxing, wrestling, and kickboxing. Although, selling a ticket for any other type of event is legal in those three states.

Radiohead have announced a partnership with ethical ticketing company Ticket Trust. The issue of secondary ticketing has become a hot topic, with noise being heard far and near, a number of bands have stepped into the fray. Radiohead’s management issued a statement blasting the practice of secondary ticketing. “Secondary ticketing is wrong on so many levels… the band’s enjoyment of their own shows has been marred by the knowledge that a great many of their fans have been obliged to pay well over face value for their tickets”.

With new ethical ticketing companies such as Ticket Trust there is no reason why artist shouldn’t be protecting themselves. If there is money to be had, then the artist is deserving of it. And as an artist supported by fans of all different economic standing,  one would hope to be represented as an artist that doesn’t rip off their fans. Music is to be enjoyed and accessible to all, not survival of the fittest or… the richest.

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Primus, & Using Willy Wonka to Spice Up Sales

Photo taken from IMDB

Photo taken from IMDB

This one goes out to all my friends that actually appreciated the original version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, as well as my friends that acknowledge crazy bass lines from the experimental, perplexing, and enigmatic rock group known to many crazy people as Primus.  It’s great to see a band pay homage to great film, but they also did it with some serious bank account victories in mind.

If you watched Willy Wonka, you’d know that the story’s premise entails a chocolate maker, arguably diagnosable for schizophrenia, slipping five golden tickets respectively for five lifetime chocolate supplies into his brand of candy bars sold worldwide.  If you haven’t watched Willy Wonka to know of this yet, please educate yourself and watch it so this article doesn’t sound like absolute gibberish.

Primus ties all of this together with their new release, Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble, which hit stores today.  The reason I gave a summary of the premise to Willy Wonka is Primus decided to, not only pay homage to it with their album title, but employ this concept of golden tickets into their record release.  Yes, there are “golden CD’s” inside random Primus CDs sold at the moment.  If a fan was to purchase a CD and get one of these golden treats, they would be entitled to a lifetime of free Primus concert tickets.  That’s right, a golden CD means you can watch Primus until your eyes or ears give out while your brain kicks the bucket from all the psychadelics you’ve been taking to enjoy the music.

On top of all of this, Primus is now selling Wonka-Primus-hybrid themed chocolate bars at each of their performances.  Titles and flavors of the chocolate bars are designed to pay homage to former Primus releases.  This, combined with the golden CDs, the theme of their album, and the theme of this album cycle’s live shows and presentations, call for one hell of a movie reference that can seriously make headlines.

Now, I’m not sure whether these ideas came from Les Claypool’s… uh, unique school of thinking, or Primus’ management.  Regardless, this whole album setup is a marketing genius move that not only boosts their record sales, but it adds a special element entirely to the Primus experience and discography.  This is a moment that fans will not forget, and certainly something that encourages you to get engaged and maybe look up a recent Wonka-themed Primus show on the internet.  Personally, I’m not a die-hard Primus fan, but I’m 100% behind creativity that marries both artistic expression and marketing success.  This way, the artist is happy with what they created and the management is happy that they don’t have to go bankrupt.  You get a party that can move onto the next big idea with confidence and us fans love that.

Of course, not all bands are all over the place like Primus.  It’s not easy to be this crazy, but that’s what the band specializes in.  They found their niche.  Not everyone has to make a Willy Wonka themed experience.  They just need to engage us fans in a way that suits their band’s style and school of thinking.  You’ll have happy fans and a happy bank account to make happier decisions in the future.  Plenty of happy overload.  Personally, I love it when my favorite bands do this.  So this is my way of saying, I want more.  When can the bands I look up to begin to think outside the box?

@NishadGeorge

Does Coldplay still have their “Magic”?  

Coldplay released their new single, ‘Magic’ in March, 2014.  Although the track, ‘Magic’ leads with an almost electronic groove, it sounds like vintage Coldplay. Being a Coldplay fan, I was hoping for an album, which sounded more like his previous albums, ‘Parachutes’, ‘A rush of Blood to the head’ or ‘Viva La Vida’ than songs, which are inclined towards the electronic side.

With their new album releasing on 19th May, 2014, Coldplay decided to do a 6-date trek around different countries during the summer. They came up with an interesting marketing strategy to engage their fans in this era of networking and social media with game using #hashtags. They decided to collaborate with libraries worldwide and in between the pages of books about ghost stories were kept copies of lyrics from their new album ‘ghost stories’. There were handwritten lyrics by Chris Martin of nine different songs from the album.

They encouraged their fans by giving hints to look for the lyrics and post the pictures on social media by using #lyricshunt and tweeting @coldplay. In fact, one set included a “Golden Ticket” for a free trip to see Coldplay at Royal Albert Hall on July 1. Very unique and interesting strategies to not only market themselves but keep the fans engaged by offering add-ons.

Nevertheless, looking forward to their new album. Check out the trailer here for Ghost Stories.

 

“Un Lago de Conciertos” . . . or the final ReAdaptation !

We finally made it! Even though the showcase we had in mind at the beginning of the semester was of a different nature, we managed to have a lovely stage on the water and two great performances by two artists of Disrupción RecordsThe official presentation the Marketing Team discussed some time ago, was definitely gonna take place in a venue far less attractive than the outdoors of the Museo de Ciencias Naturales Príncipe Felipe. Obviously, not everything were advantages, but the overall experience was a big success.

Un lago de conciertos

Berklee College of Music’s Valencia Campus has reached an agreement with the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias to produce Un Lago de Conciertos: a cycle of eight free performances by Berklee students taking place almost every Friday during May and June, closing up on the 4th of July. Jazz, folk, electronic music and many other different styles will make the outdoors of the Museum even more attractive, combining the sites of the pools, good weather and music. Brilliant initiative which had to happen, being Berklee located where it is!

The first concert was to take place on the same day our event was scheduled, so it seamed as a great opportunity to join forces and take advantage of the situation. Obviously, a show being promoted by an entity such as CAC would reach many more people than if we were promoting it. So – even though we were limited in several ways, marketing wise – it was a huge opportunity as everything was planned by locals who actually know the audience’s habits and the best time to program it.

Un Lago de Conciertos

Miranda Inzunza was able to catch everyones attention with her sweet voice during the sunset, and Avila Santo made the beginning of the weekend perfect while everyone enjoyed there first drink on a Friday afternoon.

Avila

I believe we’re all looking forward to continue this experience, as yesterday we began to see the results of the previous weeks.

On the other hand, Instagram gave me a nice surprise the other day! A friend from school posted a photo on Instagram of our artist Stephen McHale performing with Andrea Fraenzel. I think last time I saw Pablo was around 2005… So it’s nice to see lost friends enjoy the amazing creativity of new friends like Stephen or Andrea.

photo6

Artist Strategy: “Story Time”

Strategy

What separates Deadmau5 from Dyro, or Rihanna from Rox? Why do we recognize certain names – certain brands – so well and others maybe not so much? It’s safe to say that talent wise, these artists are comparable; their production or vocal chops alone aren’t enough to propel them to the front of the minds of music consumers. So what is it? What makes Joel and Robyn different and what leads listeners to go to them first for a music fix? If it’s not all about the final product, then why do we as independent artists tend to lock ourselves away in dark bedrooms, littered with discarded bags of Doritos, painstakingly self-producing an EP that embodies months or even years of deliberation and practice, only to post it online to a tepid-at-best response from friends and family? What can we do differently?

We can strategize, of course!

Artists are quick to consider independent and major label business practices decidedly incompatible – but there’s a lot to be learned from the success of the stars and it doesn’t mean lip-syncing or dressing up in a space suit [unless you’re into that].

elkins-spacesuit-flash

Intro To Consumer Choice 

The kind academic community of marketing scholars offers an analysis of consumer decision-making that we can apply to the music business. It’s a series of educated guesses regarding why buyers buy what they buy. They have identified a “need,” either functional [serving a practical issue] or psychological [satisfying a perceived desire], as the origin of purchase decisions. These needs include anything from hunger to clothing, sleep to self-actualization and the majority of which can be satisfied quite easily and simply. That is hardly ever the case; what’s known as a ‘want’ complicates the equation and it is that ‘want’ position that music competes for. Since, statistically speaking, the reclusive approach to professional artistry doesn’t tend to achieve that position, it takes strategy.

cd-jpg_002702

The main problem lies in artists’ product-centric vs. buyer-centric approaches towards strategy. Ever since Henry Ford’s mantra of ‘any color, so long as it’s black’ dissolved into a sea of possibilities and customizable options, consumers have had the final say. Competition between businesses [or in our case, between artists] encouraged the development of ‘different’, of ‘unique’. The pool of options grew and grew and correlated with a growing importance of consumer choice considerations. Consumers are more empowered than ever. As a result, a savvy business [and a savvy artist] looks just as much to what consumers want as to why they want it.

Strategists that understand this are able to do some very interesting and effective things. For now, I’ll discuss a creative approach to pro-consumer strategy that’s been quite successful for those who have pulled it off.

So, relax. It’s story time.

Trent Reznor

In 2007, Trent Reznor began an incredible promotional campaign for the Nine Inch Nails album, Zero. To begin, he circulated a concert t-shirt [seen below] with a hidden URL included in the shirt’s lettering; his clever fans quickly found the website – “iamtryingtobelieve.com”.

Iamtryingtobelievetourshirt

The dilapidated looking site, which portrays a world in which the government sedates and controls the population by invading the water supply with a psychoactive drug called “Parepin”, initiated an extensive network of “eerie voice mail, Web sites, Morse code clues hidden in MP3s and messages buried deep within music videos” all leading up to the release of the band’s record. The promotion brought together fans, created an entirely alternative reality, garnered a massive amount of “earned media”, and made Year Zero one of the most memorable experiences a Nine Inch Nails fan could have.

Application

8329358378_04cb5daa86_b

If there’s to take away from Reznor’s creativity, it’s a lesson in creating value through telling a story. As an independent artist, one may not be in a position to stage an extravagant movement, she can work to engage her fans and involve them in what he or she does whether it be consistently live streaming rehearsals or sharing updates on recording projects. There needs to be something to carry the music – a story, a mindset, a video [ahem… Psy/Baauer] – and augmenting the hard work of a self-produced EP with something more tangible can be the difference between two choices. It can be the difference between Deadmau5 and Dyro.

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1554530/nine-inch-nails-year-zero-preview.jhtml

http://www.ninwiki.com/I_Am_Trying_To_Believe

Why Twitter is Necessary in Today’s Music Industry

Twitter

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… a completely irrelevant thought that sounds like a diary entry!  Yes, that’s Twitter to the common eye.  Believe me, for the longest time I thought that Twitter was the one of the lamest things to ever hit the music industry.  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  Why?

Well for one, I always thought that Facebook was a more varied version of it.  Why should you be limited to 140 characters to post, not have thumbnail displayed photo previews, why not have extra pages like downloads or band pages, and why not just freakin’ have some privacy?  I mean, what ever happened to the mysterious rock star?  The icon that was either so DIY or so busy that the only time you could see them and hear them talk was that magical hour and a half on stage?  That was a rock and roll icon to me.  They were a mystery until you had to go out to their live show.

Unfortunately, I got slapped in the face with reality when I found out that this is 2012, and the Backstreet Boys are way past the Backstreet Men phase, making me one old bastard for the times.  It came time that I had to embrace this fancy new technology of the youth, and I fumbled for a while until I figured out it’s pure gold in today’s industry

You could say I have no clue what the @#$% I'm doing.

You could say I have no clue what the @#$% I’m doing.

1)  Twitter maintains your relevance in every day.  We live in a generation of instant-gratification.  If you can’t appease your blood thirsty shirt-ripping music-pillaging hounds of fans, you can sure bet they’re going to go and feast on the next target they see since you’re clearly not putting out.  Before you know it, your fans forget about who you are just because you’re not updating them on a day to day basis.  You’d be surprised how true it is.

2) You can create a short statement swift to the point that’ll be immediately received by all.  While 140 characters seems constricting, it actually aids you, the reader, or your fans.  How often will your fans stop what they’re doing to read that giant Shakespearean essay you posted on Facebook?  Most likely, they’ll just skip through it; in fact they probably won’t even see it.  Twitter guarantees your tweets will appear in the streams of your followers (Unless they’re following an insane amount of tweeters), whereas Facebook posts actually have never reached more than an average of 15% of their fans.

Don't worry, we're not "liking" your photo of breakfast because we hate you, we just don't give a shit about you enough to show up in our feed.

Don’t worry, it’s not that we’re not “liking” your photo of breakfast because we hate you, we just don’t give a shit about you enough to have you show up in our feed.

3)  Searching buzzes on Twitter is more effective than using Google.  Please re-read that so you don’t assume I just said Twitter is better than Google for information.  I said searching for buzzes: do you know how many people tweet about the silliest things you can’t find on Google?  When Facebook was down, Google wasn’t telling me anything.  But all I had to do was search “Facebook” on Twitter; and I’ll tell you, Twitter exploded about it.  It’s not that Google fails or anything of the sort, it’s just that the way the search engine is configured, Twitter sifts through much less  and more relevant information to produce its Tweet results as opposed to Google.

4) In addition to #3, you can create the buzz yourself.  Trends and re-tweets are very helpful in that the fans do some of the promotion for you.  Let’s say you’ve got 900 followers, and one of them re-tweets your post to their 300 separate followers.  You’ve opened your chances of getting seen from 1/3 more of your own followers, and from one fan.  It’s extremely helpful, not to mention if your fan base is loyal enough, you can even trend your product locally for everyone to see on their home page.  Remember, this is ALL free.

So, to wrap this up, I found that Twitter isn’t the enemy.  It’s helped me keep up very closely with the DIY bands that I really like without having to go through an intense effort to get updates from them.  At the same time, it’s helped me stay in contact with a lot of people.  Of course there’s people on Twitter that tweet 100% bull-shit or re-tweet philosophy because they think they’re the next Confucious to their 2 followers.  Stuff like that exists on every platform: there’s really no escaping that one person eventually, but hey, you can always un-follow them.  Personal Twitters can be great when you want to establish that artist-to-fan relationship.

Oh dang!  Eric had eggs for breakfast again! BIG @#!$#ING SURPRISE.

Oh dang! Eric had eggs for breakfast again! BIG @#!$#ING SURPRISE.

So start now: You don’t even need to start tweeting or anything of the sort.  It’s just very helpful to get your domain set so that you can use it any time in the future.  Just remember that it just could be that helpful edge you get down the road.  And hey, as far as that mysterious rockstar thing goes, most professional Twitters of the big stars aren’t even running their Twitters: it’s usually just a social media promotions guy taking control of it.

If you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve always signed off with my name, so don’t think this is some advertising, it’s just habitual.  Til next time

– @NishadGeorge

An Album of Sheet Music: Beck’s Latest Collaboration

“Art begins in imitation and ends in innovation.”- Mason Cooley

Back in the day, people used to buy music.  Waaaay back.  Sheet music.  If I told you that an artist sold 54 million copies of a single song in 1937, would you believe me?  Well, this is a real thing, and it puts the notion of success and popularity into perspective.

There was a time when music was conceived, then notated, then interpreteted, then performed, and if it was really worth it, then recorded.  Bing Crosby wrote a song called “Sweet Leilani” in  ‘37, and everyone heard it.  Because half the nation owned it on paper.  They bought it, they went home and learned it, and when it was ready, they shared it.

The word ‘share’ has a different definition in this century.  It implies a certain dichotomy between autonomy and community; that an individual has made or discovered something that he feels compelled to ‘share’ with the world, or strangers, or his friends.  Back then, it happened in a living room.  Not impulsively, but after consideration, dedication and finally presentation.

Beck has done something pretty cool.  Instead of releasing an album, he went back to the basics.  This summer, his newest music became available.  As sheet music.  No interpretation, no recordings, no cheating.  This summer, it was announced that Beck’s new project Song Reader would be released in December 2012, featuring twenty songs as sheet music only, with full-color art for each song, in a hardcover carrying case.  On www.songreader.net you can find the tunes performed by normal people, real musicians, and Mac Miller.  YouTube is full of them, too.

beck image

The genius here is way more than a gimmicky retro homage to get people to create and be inspired.  He has somehow given birth to a viral situation that will only generate more material and interpretation.  It is a different kind of innovation; he is appealing to the new crop of consumers.  In his ‘Loser’ heyday, people actually bought CDs.  Now, he has still done most of the work, but he has invited the community to record the tunes themselves, which is appealing to this new user generated generation.

On the days of sheet music and it’s purpose of generating performance, Beck said, “That time is long gone, but the idea of it makes one wonder where that impulse went. As for these songs, they’re here to be brought to life—or at least to remind us that, not so long ago, a song was only a piece of paper until it was played by someone. Anyone. Even you.”

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THINKBAND 8: Meet Charlie Parra, the guitar (and social media) wizard.

There’s a lot of unsigned guitar enthusiasts out there with millions of Youtube views, but just a few get the following in say, less than 3 years:

  • Endorsement of one of the most important guitar makers: Kramer Guitars (yes, the guitar brand that Eddie Van Halen used in his early recordings).
  • Endorsement of Laney Amplifiers.
  • Endorsement of EMG pickups (Metallica’s choice)
  • Sign to a major label and start a world tour with one of Canada’s most promising bands: Kobra and the Lotus (discovered by Gene Simmons).
  • Get sold out gigs in USA, Canada and Europe.

This is the story of Charlie Parra, a peruvian guitar player that did all of the above on his own, without a manager but with clear goals.

His strategy was based in engaging his music through social media on a regular basis. Also, his competitive advantage was the skill to play a cover song of almost every style (from Lady Gaga to classical to Peruvian cumbia) but transforming it into metal shredding. Then his solo album was released and was available in almost every music streaming service, iTunes and promo videos for every song with huge success.

Creation, performance, distribution and marketing strategies. All done by a guy that picked up the guitar for the first time because his school psychologist told him that it would help his “lack of concentration issues”.

THINKBAND 7: CONQUER YOUR AUDIENCE.

Why are vikings so cool in the metal scene? The answer might be in Carl Jung’s collective unconscious theory in which he proposed that there’s a common language between every human being throughout the times and places in the world. This language is formed by primitive symbols that go beyond reason, he called them archetypes.
One of these archetypes is the warrior; “a person who shows great vigour, courage or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.”

Amon Amarth is regarded as THE viking metal band despite that many bands included the “viking” thematic many years before them (Bathory, Enslaved and even Manowar). They are one of the most successful metal bands right now with a never ending tour agenda around the world. But it’s not the fact that they were the first ones or not to come with the concept; it’s what they’ve done with it, for example look at the brand experience they set up in their live performances (or battles):

Although there has been quite a few musicians that had developed their brand image and experience in a sensational way more than 40 years ago (Pink Floyd, for example), the challenge comes nowadays that there is too much music to listen and too little time to hear them all. In that sense, Amon Amarth is a really great example of what BRAND EQUITY can do for you. This kind of performance makes their fans to enter into a true catharsis and release emotions in a positive way, giving the band a unique added value that it’s then transformed in record and ticket sales to their loyal fans around the world. They are Amon Amarth fans beyond reason.

To all professional musicians out there: practicing/composing/learning music all day is a GREAT idea. But have you thought about giving your music a concept? Can you describe your music in one UNIQUE word that nobody else could really have or at least its not generic like “soulful”, “inspired”, “aggressive”, “deep” or, to say the least “post-experimental”. None of these terms will really help you. You need to think about this in order to effectively approach to your audience.

Thinkband 5: A story to sell.

In ancient times when a plebeian tried to approach the king to ask for something he had to make an offering. This offerings could be slaves, state of the art weapons, land, or just gold. Despite that the plebeian had the opportunity to talk with the king, nothing was taken for granted, it was just a right to talk to the majesty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although it’d be interesting to have some lands for my own negotiation purposes, I’d prefer to talk about a similar story that might interest you as possible band managers: two weeks ago a couple of colleagues and me went to a venue we targeted to show the managers/owners a new startup band that we are promoting called Puerto Argento. We felt more than confident since this band has three conservatory members with undoubtedly quality in terms of musicianship, performance and charisma. I had a well prepared speech to talk about how good they are, the possible negotiation to set up the show, the benefits for the venue and even some small talk to break the ice. What could go wrong?

After waiting for 20 minutes we finally approached to this guy and start talking about business, I spent a few minutes introducing myself and my colleagues, describing the band and talking about how this band could be beneficial for both sides. Although he was paying attention and making eye contact, some problems appeared just when I was starting to describe the band’s musical style. His cellphone rings 3 times in a row, he answers them all, one of the waiters rush to give him a document and two people interrupt my speech with effusive smiles and handshakes. At the end of the conversation he had no idea how the band looked and sounded like, therefore no negotiation could be done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One week later we had our first EPK ready for Puerto Argento so we grabbed an iPad and approached to a similar venue and showed it to the owner. In just seconds he turned off the cellphone ring, called their 2 waitress and said “hey guys, check this out”, then 30 seconds later he whispers to himself “look at the singer, she has a beautiful voice”. He shown immediate interest in booking the band gave me his business card for the follow up coordinations. Now we are closing the deal with really good benefits for this promising band in the long term.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the EPK we used as today’s plebeians: